Dean proposed to build a subdivision on what had been a golf course. Defendant opposed the development and through internet postings and other means successfully convinced the City not to amend its general plan to allow the subdivision. Held, Dean’s suit for defamation and interference with prospective economic advantage was the archetype of a SLAPP suit, targeting protected speech by the defendant to convince a governmental entity to take action and to address an issue of public interest. Defendants’ speech was not commercial speech as defendants sold no goods or services, did not try to convince others to buy anything, and did not espouse any commercial message. Moreover, not all commercial speech falls outside CCP 425.16’s protection–just false and misleading advertising. The commercial advertising exclusion in CCP 425.17(c) is similarly narrow. Plaintiff showed no probability of success on the merits as defendants’ speech was immunized by Civ. Code 47(b) as being in the course of legislative proceedings, and also by the Noerr-Pennington doctrine.
California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 4 (Ruvolo, P.J.); February 8, 2018 (published March 8, 2018); 2018 WL 1193512