Another Judge Refuses To Apply Anti-SLAPP Statute In Federal Court Diversity Case

For those hoping that, after the DC Court of Appeals’ Mann decision, DC federal district judges would again apply the DC anti-SLAPP statute in a diversity suit, as multiple judges had done before the DC Circuit’s Abbas decision, they are going to have to wait longer. A second DC federal district judge has now concluded that – despite Mann – the DC anti-SLAPP statute cannot apply in a DC federal court diversity case.

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Superior Court Dismisses Anti-SLAPP Complaint Aimed at Arbitration

Last year, I blogged about the Wilkenfeld v. Steward Partners complaint filed in DC Superior Court, where Ari Wilkenfeld was asking the court to stop an arbitration from proceeding against him, because he believed the defamation claim therein was a SLAPP. I thought that Wilkenfeld would have a difficult time asking a Superior Court judge to use the DC anti-SLAPP statute to stop an arbitration. I was correct.

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Robo-Team Complaint Dismissed For Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

Last November, I blogged about Robo-Team NA, Inc. v. Endeavor Robotics, where Robo-Team alleged that a competitor (Endeavor) spread a false rumor that the Chinese government controlled Robo-Team, and used it to steal military technology from the United States. Robo-Team sued Endeavor and its lobbying firm (Sachem) for defamation, tortious interference with contactual and other business relationships, civil conspiracy, and unfair competition. Both defendants filed anti-SLAPP special motions to dismiss (along with “traditional” motions to dismiss).

I thought a decision might offer a glimpse into whether the DC anti-SLAPP statute was applicable in a federal court diversity case and/or the commercial exception. Unfortunately that’s not the case. In an opinion issued last week, the Court holds that it lacks personal jurisdiction over both defendants, so it grants their motions to dismiss. Consequently, the Court doesn’t reach the anti-SLAPP special motions to dismiss.

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When Does a Party “Prevail” Under the DC Anti-SLAPP Statute

When I last wrote about the Jacobson v. Clack case, Jacobson had voluntarily dismissed the suit (two days after a hearing on the defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, but before the Superior Court ruled on the motion). I wondered if the defendants would move to recover their fees. Well, wonder no more.

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Investigative Report At Center of Alleged SLAPP

An interesting case is playing out in DC Superior Court. The plaintiffs allege, in a 103-page, 535-paragraph complaint, that they were defamed and cast in a false light in a 541-page report that was commissioned by the American Psychological Association, and prepared by the international law firm Sidley & Austin and its partner, David Hoffman, all of whom are defendants in the case.

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Scientist Drops Suit After Anti-SLAPP Hearing

There have been several notable developments in the scientist v. scientist case since our last post.

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“All We Need Is Just a Little Patience”

In 1987, I heard Welcome to the Jungle, and its distinctive opening guitar riff, and it was unlike anything I had ever heard before. One year later, GNR released Patience, a quiet song that opened with Axl whistling melodically into a mike. One of the lines in that song was “all we need is just a little patience.” I thought about that line recently when I saw that the parties in the Deripaska v. Associated Press appeal had jointly stipulated to the dismissal of their appeal with prejudice. The dismissal means we’re going to have to wait a bit longer to find out if the DC Circuit’s Abbas ruling remains good law following the DC Court of Appeals’ Mann ruling.

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When Scientists Sue

Mark Jacobson, who alleges that he is a “renowned scientist,” along with three co-authors, publishes a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. The Jacobson paper posits that a large-scale US transition to renewable energy could, by 2050, eliminate the need for other energy sources. Six months later, a group of other scientists and scholars, led by Christopher Clack, submit a paper to PNAS in which they question some of the assumptions, methodologies and conclusions in the Jacobson article.

Jacobson reviews the draft Clack paper and allegedly identifies numerous false and misleading statements, which he catalogues in a document. The Jacobson critique is submitted to PNAS, and ultimately to the Clack authors. They, in turn, slightly modify their paper, but largely adhere to their original criticisms. The Clack paper is published by PNAS on June 19, 2017. At the same time, the NAS publishes a 1300-word letter from Jacobson in which he responds to the Clack paper.

So the scientists then duel in the court of public opinion, quarrelling about their respective papers, assumptions and positions, and letting the marketplace of ideas sort through all of it, correct? Ha ha. Don’t be silly. You know what happens next. 

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Two More Anti-SLAPP Motions Filed in DC Federal Court Cases

We are one step closer to a decision from the DC Circuit on whether its Abbas ruling remains good law following the DC Court of Appeals’ Mann decision. The plaintiff in the Deripaska v. Associated Press case has appealed the Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of his suit. In response, the Associated Press filed a notice of cross-appeal, presumably to argue that the district court erred in concluding that it was bound to follow Abbas.

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Another Superior Court Judge Dismisses SLAPP Suit

In the quintessential SLAPP suit, a large, well-heeled plaintiff (typically a corporation) sues an individual for something he/she said, which offends the plaintiff. The goal is to punish the speaker for the speech, so that he or she is silenced, and a message is sent to others to stay quiet, or risk the same fate. A reporter recently argued that he was the victim of a SLAPP; the court granted his special motion to dismiss.

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