Horvitz & Levy persuaded the Court of Appeal to affirm a trial court’s order denying defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, allowing our client to proceed on its defamation case against business competitors.
Plaintiff A&S Metal Recycling, Inc. and defendants are competitors in Los Angeles’s scrap metal recycling industry. After learning that defendants had allegedly created and disseminated an anonymous website accusing A&S Metal of engaging in environmental violations, A&S Metal sued, alleging defamation and defamation-related claims. Defendants moved to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute, arguing that A&S Metal’s claims arose from purportedly protected speech concerning matters of public interest. The trial court denied defendants’ motion, reasoning that, under the anti-SLAPP statute’s second prong, A&S Metal had established a probability of prevailing on its claims. A&S Metal retained Horvitz & Levy to respond to defendants’ appeal.
The Court of Appeal affirmed, agreeing with Horvitz & Levy’s argument that defendants’ speech was not protected under the anti-SLAPP statute’s first prong because the challenged speech did not implicate a “public issue” or “issue of public interest.” The court held that the speech concerned only A&S Metal’s specific business practices and did not contribute to any public debate or discussion on public issues such as the improper disposal of hazardous waste or the health of the Los Angeles River. In light of that conclusion, the Court of Appeal did not need to reach the trial court’s reasons for denying defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion.