Facebook’s general counsel’s email to the press concerning the company’s filing a malicious prosecution suit against Argentieri was not protected by the absolute litigation privilege under Civ. Code 47(b) because the press lacked a substantial interest in and had no substantial connection to the litigation. Also, the email to the press was not a step necessary or useful to the litigation process. However, the email was privileged under Civ. Code 47(d) as a fair and true report to a publication about a judicial proceeding. Even if the email departed from the exact language of Facebook’s complaint, it accurately summarized the gist of that complaint, and that is all that is required to invoke the fair and true report privilege. The fact that the complaint was later found to be legally insufficient is irrelevant for purposes of the privilege. Also the statute’s exception for communications in violation of Rule of Professional Conduct 5-120 did not apply since there was no showing that the public report of the complaint’s filing had any likelihood of materially prejudicing the adjudicatory proceeding.
California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5 (Needham, J.); February 15, 2017; 2017 WL 605313