As featured in Daily Journal, The Recorder, Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable, on May 6, 2019, in a victory for Baker Marquart, the California Supreme Court reversed an opinion of the Second Appellate District, holding that California’s anti-SLAPP statute does not bar a trade libel lawsuit filed between two commercial businesses as argued in in libel case FilmOn.com, Inc. v. DoubleVerify, Inc. The Court ruled that libelous statements made about FilmOn’s business in confidential reports sold by DoubleVerify, Inc. to online advertisers do not constitute protected speech under the anti-SLAPP statute.
“The Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion restores some reason and balance to the application of the anti-SLAPP statute,” said Ryan G. Baker, who represents FilmOn. “As many commentators have observed, the anti-SLAPP ‘cure’ has started to become the disease. Based on an over-emphasis of the Legislature’s directive to interpret the anti-SLAPP statute ‘broadly,’ nebulous anti-SLAPP interpretations have permitted well-heeled litigants, such as DoubleVerify, to insulate themselves from liability by connecting the speech or conduct at issue to a matter of public interest in some attenuated way.”
Baker added, “The Court clarified that the ‘functional relationship’ between the speech or conduct at issue and issues of public interest must be considered to determine whether that statement sufficiently encourages participation in matters of public significance to warrant anti-SLAPP protection.”