Company’s Remarks About Rival Held Shielded by Anti-SLAPP Law
Two California companies have been waging war against each other in several different Southern California courts over the past few years: Contemporary Services Corporation (“CSC”) and Staff Pro Inc. (“Staff Pro”). The latest battle was played out in the California Court of Appeal concerning whether an E-Mail that Staff Pro sent its customers concerning the status of the CSC-Staff Pro Inc. litigation was protected by the First Amendment and the proper subject of an anti-SLAPP motion. Staff Pro won this round. The Metropolitan News Enterprise reports:
A litigation update that a company sent to customers concerning its business competitor was not commercial speech excepted from anti-SLAPP protections, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held yesterday.
Agreeing with Orange Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Didier, Div. Three upheld the dismissal of a defamation suit by Contemporary Services Corporation, in Northridge, against its Huntington Beach-based rival Staff Pro. Both compete in the business of providing staffing and crowd control services for sports and entertainment events in California.
CSC and its president, Damon Zumwalt, sued Staff Pro and president Cory Meredith last January over negative remarks Meredith made to some of its customers about CSC. The allegedly defamatory statements pertained to litigation that CSC had commenced in 2001 alleging its rival engaged in unfair business practices, including predatory pricing.
In an e-mail update sent to numerous individuals connected with the 2001 case, which was filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Meredith said his “personal opinion” was that “everyone knows CSC uses the courts as a weapon against its competitors.”
You and read the decision in Contemporary Services Corporation v. Staff Pro Inc. (June 27, 2007 G037750) here.