In Do v. Hollins Law, P.C., 2013 WL 4013659 (N.D.Cal. 2013), a debt collection law firm filed an anti-SLAPP motion against the Plaintiff arising from the Plaintiff’s Rosenthal Act claim. Judge White denied the anti-SLAPP motion, finding that the law firm’s activities were not protected by the litigation privilege and the law firm was, in fact, subject to the Rosenthal Act. Judge White found no litigation privilege protection:
However, the California Court of Appeal has held that the litigation privilege does not apply to bar claims under the Rosenthal Act. See Komarova v. Nat’l Credit Acceptance, Inc., 175 Cal.App. 4th 324, 340 (2009). “Exceptions to the litigation privilege have been recognized under statutes that (1) are ‘more specific’ than the privilege, and (2) would be ‘significantly or wholly inoperable’ if the privilege applied.” Id. at 339 (quoting Action Apartment Ass’n, Inc. v. City of Santa Monica, 41 Cal.4th 1232, 1246 (2007)). The court in Komarova found both requirements were satisfied. The Rosenthal Act was more specific than Section 47(b). Also, the Rosenthal Act’s prohibitions of deliberate neglect of service, among other of the Act’s provisions, would be nullified by the litigation privilege. Id. at 340. Therefore, the court found that the Rosenthal Act would be significantly inoperable if it did not prevail over the litigation privilege where the two statutes conflict. Id. ¶ Here, the litigation privilege and the Rosenthal Act conflict as applied in this action and would nullify the provisions of the Rosenthal Act which are at issue. The Rosenthal Act prohibits using a false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of a debt and failing to meaningfully disclose that the call was being made by a debt collector in an attempt to collect a debt. These prohibitions would be nullified by the litigation priv-ilege, because the litigation privilege would render the Rosenthal Act significantly inoperable. See id. Therefore, the Court follows Komarova and holds that, on the facts of this case, the litigation privilege does not apply to bar Do’s claim under the Rosenthal Act. See also Oei, 486 F.Supp.2d at 1100–01.
Judge White found that the law firm was subject to the Rosenthal Act, which exempts only attorneys, and not their Firms.
As the Vo court noted, courts that have concluded that law firms are not debt collectors do not “cite[ ] or appear to have considered Carney.” Vo, 2013 WL 1091207, at *8. In Carney, two employees of a debt collection law firm falsely represented to a plaintiff that a bench warrant had issued for her arrest and that it would remain in effect until she paid the sum demanded by the law firm. See 206 Cal.App.3d at 1513. When the plaintiff sued the law firm, the secretary, the attorney, and the original creditor for Rosenthal Act violations, the court noted that Section 1788.2(c) specifically exempts attorneys from the Act’s cover-age. See id. at 1526. It then concluded that “the complaint shows on its face that defendant attorney was not a ‘debt collector’ within the meaning of the Act.” Id. ¶ The court in Vo did consider Carney and concluded that it was not “persuasive precedent,” because the Carney court did not “make clear whether the plaintiff brought a Rosenthal Act claim against the defendant law firm,” and “did not explicitly find that the term ‘attorney’ includes law firms, or even discuss the issue. Vo, 2013 WL 1091207, at *9. The Vo court then proceeded to construe Section 1788.2(c), and noted that the term “attorney” normally refers to a single individual, whereas the term “ ‘law firm’ refers to multiple individuals who practice law together.” Id., 2013 WL 1091207, at *10 (citing Blacks Law Dictionary (9th Ed.2010)). The court also noted that in related statutes and regulations, “ ‘lawyer’ and ‘law firm’ mean different things.” Id., 2013 WL 1091207, at *11. Finally, the court noted that the legislative history of a related statutory provision, which sub-jected attorneys to discipline by the State Bar of California, further supported a conclusion that the terms “attorney” and “law firm” are distinct. The Vo court noted that although the Legislature created an alternative regime to ensure that attorneys were not un-regulated, the Legislature did not create a “similar, alternative regulatory regime for ‘law firms.” Thus, the court concluded that “to exempt [law firms] would undermine the public policy articulated in Cal. Civ.Code § 1788.1(b): ‘to prohibit debt collectors from engaging in deceptive acts in the collection of consumer debts.’ ” Id., 2013 WL 1091207, at *11. ¶ The Court agrees with the Vo court’s construction of the exemption set forth in Section 1788.2(c), and it also finds its reasons for declining to follow Carney persuasive. Accordingly, this Court follows Vo as well the majority of the federal courts within California that have concluded that the Rosenthal Act does apply to law firms. Therefore, the Court concludes that Do has established a probability that he will prevail on his claim.