Calif. finds HOA suit against opposition signs to be SLAPP

Some sense is finally being displayed by Cal. courts in support of the Constitution against the second local,  de facto  governments — HOAs.   Homeowners require protection to speak out, since HOA issues can be public issues.  Many states have an anti-SLAPP statutes.  

A SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) is a lawsuit brought primarily to chill a party’s constitutional right of petition or free speech. The anti-SLAPP statute was enacted to prevent and deter lawsuits that chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for the redress of grievances and provides “an efficient procedural mechanism to obtain an early and inexpensive dismissal of nonmeritorious claims” arising from the exercise of those constitutional rights. (Martinez v. Metabolife Intern., Inc. (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 181, 186.)

Section 425.16, subdivision (b)(1), states: “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 Constitution or the 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.”

The Signs Are Speech Protected by the First Amendment

The Signs Are Not Defamatory

The Signs are in a Public Forum and Concern a Matter of Public Interest

No Probability of Success on the Merits Nuisance

Slander of Title.  The Beach Club asserts that it has stated a cause of action for slander of title because the signs disparage and impair the marketability of its property.

HOLDING:  Beach Club action was SLAPP.

SANTA BARBARA BEACH CLUB, LLC, v. FREEMAN, No. B212972 (Cal. App. 2 Div. May 3, 2010).

Published in: on May 4, 2010 at 7:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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