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Slapped By An Anti-Slapp Motion

SLAPP and anti-SLAPP. It's enough to make your head spin.

SLAPP is Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Anti-SLAPP is ... well, you can figure that out. It's the opposite of being slapped.

Generally speaking, SLAPP lawsuits are those filed by someone who wants the defendant to drop a government challenge. Typically, it's a developer trying to shut down an environmental group that is opposing a housing project. Not always, but sometimes.

Anti-Slapp, then, is when a defendant thinks that a plaintiff is suing because the defendant tried to exercise its First Amendment rights.

With that, we're ready to delve into Northern California Carpenters v. Warmington. The City of Hercules removed contamination from an old oil refinery and turned it over to Warmington and other developers to build homes on 206 acres.

The City had earlier adopted a prevailing wage policy. Warmington and the other developers didn't think it applied to them, so they sought a coverage determination from the California Department of Industrial Relations.

In January. The Carpenters' lawsuit was filed in July alleging that Warmington and the other developers violated the City's prevailing wage policy.

So, the defendant developers reasoned that the Carpenters' lawsuit was -- you guessed it -- an anti-SLAPP suit. When the developers filed a motion thinking they were being punished for seeking the interpretation from the State, however, they ran into a hitch.

It was a recently added statute. The statute was designed to shut down the broad application that California courts have been applying to anti-SLAPP suits. Kind of like Prop 64.

But, it worked the opposite way that Warmington had intended. Warmington lost the motion, the appeal, and now will be defending the Carpenters' lawsuit.


Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, November 23, 2004

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