Author Archives: Leslie Machado
From the land of Wayne Newton and Brittney Spears comes news of an interesting lawsuit implicating the Nevada anti-SLAPP statute. Techdirt.com explains that the lawsuit, Opinion Corporation d/b/a PissedConsumer.com v. Nevada Corporate Headquarters, came after Nevada Corporate Headquarters twice sued Opinion Corporation, which runs the website PissedConsumer.com (which, as its name suggests, allows consumers to complain about companies). According to the complaint, Nevada Corporate Headquarters’ first lawsuit was dismissed because of 47 U.S.C. § 230. (Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects websites against libel suits for otherwise defamatory comments/statements made on the website, as long as the website … [ CONTINUE READING
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I have previously explained that Yasser Abbas’s appeal from the district court’s decision, granting the defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, will likely force the DC Circuit to decide whether the DC anti-SLAPP statute applies in federal court (“the Erie issue”) because, unlike the Sherrod appeal (which also involved timeliness issues) and the Farah appeal (in which the motion to dismiss was also granted under Rule 12(b)(6)), the Abbas complaint was dismissed only under the DC anti-SLAPP statute and there are no other potentially dispositive issues (e.g., timeliness). As such, the threshold question of whether the statute applies in federal court might be outcome … [ CONTINUE READING
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DC Court of Appeals Holds that Denial of Motion to Quash Under DC Anti-SLAPP Statute Is Immediately Appealable
Yesterday, in its first decision interpreting the DC Anti-SLAPP statute, the DC Court of Appeals (DC’s highest court) held that: - the denial of a special motion to quash under the statute is immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine; and - a party making a motion under the DC anti-SLAPP statute does not need to disprove, in the first instance, that it was not commercially motivated. (For background on the Burke v. Doe case, see here).
Another DC federal court judge recently held that the DC anti-SLAPP statute applies in federal court, and applied it to dismiss a libel and related torts action. This decision, in Forras v. Rauf, means that four DC federal district court judges have held that the DC anti-SLAPP statute applies in federal court, while one has held that it does not.
Unless something unexpected happens, the Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group appeal will force the DC Circuit to expressly decide whether the DC anti-SLAPP statute applies in federal court (the so-called “Erie” issue). (For background on the defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, see this post; for a summary of Abbas’ opposition, the District of Columbia’s amicus brief and the defendants’ reply brief, see this post; for an analysis of the District Court’s decision, see this post).
When we last wrote about Michael Mann’s libel suit against National Review, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and two individual defendants, the DC Superior Court had denied anti-SLAPP motions filed by all defendants. Since that date, there have been several notable developments in the case, including an appeal to the DC Court of Appeals, a return to the DC Superior Court, and another upcoming appeal. Here is what you might have missed:
The DC Circuit’s decision in Farah v. Esquire Magazine turned out to be a dud from an anti-SLAPP perspective. The court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Farah’s Complaint, but did so under Rule 12(b)(6), thus mooting any consideration of arguments made under the DC anti-SLAPP act. The opinion is not a great surprise. In its brief to the DC Circuit, Esquire suggested that, because the Complaint was also dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6), the district court’s decision could be affirmed on this alternative basis. And the questions at oral argument (link here) did not focus on the anti-SLAPP act. Nevertheless, … [ CONTINUE READING
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There is an interesting anti-SLAPP case that has now reached the DC Court of Appeals. Here is the background. Susan Burke is a DC lawyer, best known for representing plaintiffs in suits against the U.S. military or federal government contractors. In January 2012, an editor allegedly edited Ms. Burke’s Wikipedia entry to suggest that a DC federal judge had criticized a case she brought against the company then named Blackwater. In fact, Ms. Burke was not involved in the case referenced by the Wikipedia editor, and was instead counsel in a separate case involving the same defendant.
On September 27, the DC federal court applied the DC anti-SLAPP statute and dismissed the libel suit brought by Yasser Abbas, the son of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority. In so doing, Judge Sullivan became the third DC federal court judge to expressly hold that the DC anti-SLAPP statute can be invoked in federal court, joining Judge Walton in Boley v. Atlantic Monthly Group, Inc. and Judge Collyer in Farah v. Esquire Magazine, Inc. (Of course, in 3M v. Boulter, Judge Wilkins held that it does not apply in federal court).
I previously blogged about the libel suit brought by Sheldon Adelson against the National Jewish Democratic Council and others, alleging that an article they published, which reported that Adelson had personally approved of prostitution in his casinos, and urged then-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to reject his “dirty money,” was false and defamatory. The defendants initially moved to dismiss the suit under Rule 12(b)(6) and the DC anti-SLAPP act. At the Court’s request, the parties then briefed whether the suit would survive under Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute. On September 30, the Court dismissed the suit, holding that it failed to state a claim … [ CONTINUE READING
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