Charney v. Standard General, L.P.

Employer’s Anti-SLAPP motion was properly granted in response to terminated CEO’s defamation claim, since the allegedly defamatory press release stated only that a third party investigation of allegations against the CEO had been undertaken and that he was terminated as a result of that investigation.  A terminated CEO failed to establish he had a probability of succeeding on his defamation claim against his former employer.  The press release about his termination, which the CEO claimed defamed him, stated only that a third party investigation of allegations against the CEO had been undertaken and that he was terminated as a result of that investigation.  Whether or not the investigation was conducted by a truly independent third party, the statement that it had been could not be defamatory because it said nothing about the CEO.  Also, whether the investigator was truly independent and a third party were matters of opinion, not provable fact.  Since the press release did not identify any conduct for which the CEO was terminated, it also could not have defamed him by claiming he committed criminal conduct or violated any other applicable standards of conduct.  Consequently, the employer’s Anti-SLAPP motion was properly granted.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5 (Kumar, J., sitting by assignment); March 28, 2017; 2017 WL 1155698

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