Daily Journal story on trial resulting in new anti-SLAPP case law

Plaintiff prevails in case that made new anti-SLAPP law

by Justin Kloczko, Daily Journal Staff Writer

It was a fairly typical breach of fiduciary duty case in Los Angeles Superior Court that resulted in a $3.5 million jury verdict recently, but only after it made news case law regarding the anti-SLAPP statute used to knock down frivolous lawsuits seeking to chill speech.

In Baral v. Schnitt, the state high court resolved a long-running dispute among appellate courts about how to treat mixed causes of action that contained protected and unprotected activity.

At issue in the Baral case was a fraud audit report his attorney, Gerald Sauer of Sauer & Wagner LLP, wanted to come to light, but it was deemed SLAPP-able on remand by the the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

“Just because it was slapped and was not the basis for liability, it was still admissible as evidence to show why Baral did certain things,” said Sauer. “I didn’t believe the fraud report should have been cloaked in the litigation privilege.”

“The state Supreme Court needed to look in the trenches in terms of the impact of the ruling,” Sauer said. “This should have been part of the traditional motion to strike, and it should have been changed by the Legislature.”

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