In 1997, Civ. Code 47(d) was amended to include among privileged communications not only a fair and true report in a public journal of a judicial or other official proceeding or anything said in one, but also a fair and true report to a public journal about those proceedings. The legislative history shows the amendment was intended as a bridge between the absolute litigation privilege and the fair and true report privilege, allowing privileged transmission of information about official proceedings to public journals. Here, the privilege is held to preclude a defamation and trade libel suit based on a press release that attorneys for plaintiffs in a False Claims Act suit issued shortly after the jury returned a verdict in plaintiffs’ favor and against the manufacturer that filed this follow-on suit. The terms “flawed” and “shoddy” were within the realm of fair comment on the jury verdicts which found the manufacturer’s pipe did not meet industry manufacturing and testing standards. The manufacturer did not point to any other material inaccuracies in the press release. Hence, the attorneys’ Anti-SLAPP motion should have been granted.
Fair report privilege bars defamation and trade libel claims based on a press release issued by plaintiffs’ attorneys accurately summarizing jury verdict and proceedings in a False Claims Act suit against the defamation plaintiff.