Healthsmart Pacific, Inc. v. Kabateck

Statements an attorney made to news media about a suit he filed on behalf of a client were protected speech under the Anti-SLAPP statute because the lawsuit and the attorney’s statements about it involved matters of public interest such as the allegation that the defendants in that suit had implanted phony spinal implants in thousands of patients.  Affirming an order granting an Anti-SLAPP motion, this decision holds that statements an attorney made to news media about a suit he filed on behalf of a client were protected speech under CCP 425.16(e)(4) because the lawsuit and the attorney’s statements about it involved matters of public interest such as the allegation that the defendants in that suit had implanted phony spinal implants in thousands of patients and had engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to bribe a legislator and pay kickbacks to doctors for patient referrals and for use of the phony implants.  The plaintiff failed to show a probability of success on the merits because the lawyer’s statements were privileged under Civ Code 47(d)’s fair report privilege.  The statements accurately reflected the allegations of the complaint that the lawyer had filed and the lawyer’s statements could not reasonably be interpreted to vouch for the truth of those allegations.  The decision refuses to follow Burrill v. Nair (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 357 insofar as it held that the report of the filing of a complaint on which no official action had been taken does not fall within the scope of the fair report privilege.

 California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 1 (Rothschild, P.J.); December 19, 2016 (modified & published January 10, 2017); 2016 WL 7667365

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