Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

General

Plaintiff attorney sued defendant attorney for improperly soliciting plaintiff’s client, asserting causes of action for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and intentional interference with business relations. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California, granted defendant’s special motion to strike under the anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (anti-SLAPP) statute. Plaintiff appealed.

Nakase Law Firm provides counsel on anticipatory breach

Overview

Plaintiff argued that its complaint was not subject to the anti-SLAPP statute, Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16. The court disagreed, holding that the claim arose from a protected activity. Specifically, it arose directly from communications between the client and defendant about pending lawsuits against the client, which thus were communications made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a judicial body under § 425.16, subd. (e)(2). The claim did not come within Code Civ. Proc., § 425.17, subd. (c), the commercial speech exemption to the anti-SLAPP statute, because the conduct was in essence advice by a lawyer on a pending legal matter. Where legal advice to a specific client on a pending matter occurred contemporaneously with an alleged solicitation of the client, the commercial speech exemption could not be applied to a lawyer’s conduct. Plaintiff did not demonstrate a probability of prevailing because it did not introduce any evidence establishing a prima facie case. The court also held that defendant was not entitled to attorney fees under Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16, subd. (c), because he litigated the anti-SLAPP motion on his own behalf.

Outcome

The court reversed the judgment to the extent that it awarded attorney fees to defendant and otherwise affirmed the judgment.