Court holds HOA elections are a matter of public interest

A California appellate court held that HOA elections are a matter of public interest and annual meetings are a public forum. Candidates are limited public figures with respect to the elections. Therefore, the anti-SLAPP law applied with respect to statements made by the candidates and their speech is protected.  A defamation lawsuit based on statements made by the candidates must survive a motion that the lawsuit was made to stifle public participation.

 

In Cabrera v. Alam the court held,

 

We reverse and remand with directions to grant the anti-SLAPP motion. Defendant carried his burden of showing the defamation claim was based on protected activity under section 425.16, subdivision (e)(3). We hold defendant’s statements were protected activity because they were made in a public forum at a homeowners association’s annual meeting and concerned an issue of public interest, namely, the qualifications of a candidate for office in the association. Plaintiff failed to carry her burden of showing a probability of prevailing on the merits of the defamation claim. Having thrust herself into the controversy surrounding the election of the association’s board of directors, she became a limited purpose public figure who was required to show defendant made the allegedly defamatory statements with malice. Plaintiff failed to produce any evidence showing defendant made the statements knowing them to be false or recklessly disregarding their falsity.

 

Another step toward the recognition of the reality that HOAs are indeed de facto governments and need to be recognized as state actors, and brought under the protections and prohibitions of the US Constitution.

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Published in: on July 28, 2011 at 7:28 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. So HOAs DO have governmental protection when they defame and/or harass you – but its just ‘Poor Volunteer Board’ with its hand in the cookie jar and its foot on your neck when they’re stealing your Constitutional Rights. And they are never, ever to be held accountable for their actions in the ‘Poor Volunteer Board’ disguise? Now I see.


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