From contributing blogger John S. Merculief II –
A California appellate court has affirmed a lower court’s ruling granting a woman’s anti-SLAPP motion against her daughter’s ex-husband regarding online postings the woman made about him.
The genesis of Darren Chaker’s lawsuit against Nicole Mateo and her mother, Wendy, was apparently a contentious custody battle in Texas courts regarding the former couple’s child. This battle appears to have helped prompt Wendy Mateo’s online comments, which in turn led to Chaker’s defamation suit.
In granting Wendy Mateo’s anti-SLAPP (“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”) motion to strike the defamation suit, the appellate court affirmed that she was merely exercising her First Amendment right to free speech in the matter.
- “This guy is … a deadbeat dad.”
- “He may be taking steroids so who knows what could happen.”
- “He uses people, is into illegal activities, etc.”
- Varied accusations of fraud, deceit, picking up street walkers, and homeless drug addicts
- Something called “Ripoff Report,” which describes itself as “a worldwide consumer reporting Web site and publication, by consumers, for consumers, to file and document complaints about companies or individuals.”
- A social networking site into which Chaker had inserted himself by posting a professional profile (the opinion styles him as working in “forensics”).
In finding the defendant’s statements were nonactionable opinions, the [prior] court relied in part on the fact they were posted on the Internet Craigslist “Rants and Raves” Web site and lacked “ ‘the formality and polish typically found in documents in which a reader would expect to find facts.’” Summit Bank v. Rogers, 206 Cal.App.4th 669, 696–701, 142 Cal.Rptr.3d 40 (2012).
The statute, as subsequently amended, provides in part:
- (b)(1) A cause of action against a person arising from any act of that person in furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike, unless the court determines that the plaintiff has established that there is a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim. …
- “ ‘(e) As used in this section, “act in furtherance of a person’s right of petition or free speech … in connection with a public issue” includes: … (3) any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest. …