Successfully Defended a Client Against Multiple Anti-SLAPP Motions in the Court of Appeal
On May 19, 2022, in three separate opinions, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District ruled that our client had not violated the anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“anti-SLAPP”) statute.
We filed three lawsuits against the City of Pasadena (“City”) on behalf of our client, a successful cannabis retailer with multiple store locations. Two of these lawsuits challenged the City’s issuance of conditional use permits (“CUP(s)”) to two applicants seeking to operate a cannabis store. The third lawsuit challenged the City’s determination that there had been no change of control for one of the applicants, which allowed the applicant to proceed in the application process. The applicants were named as real parties in interest in the lawsuits.
These applicants filed anti-SLAPP motions against our client in all three cases, which we successfully defended against in the superior court. The applicants appealed the superior court’s ruling, staying the trial court proceedings and any further discovery. The applicants argued, among other things, that our client’s challenge to the validity of the CUPs/certain City determinations was a challenge to the protected activity of submitting an application for the permit.
On May 19, 2022, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District ruled in favor of our client in three separate opinions. The court affirmed a superior court’s ruling that our client had not violated the anti-SLAPP statute. The Court of Appeal found that the superior court properly concluded that the claims asserted by our client did not arise from protected speech or petitioning activity. Importantly, the Court of Appeal explained that there is a difference between the wrong alleged and the remedy sought, and that it is the claim, not the remedy, to which an anti-SLAPP motion is properly directed.
This is an important ruling not only for our client but also for anyone seeking to challenge a city’s or agency’s decision or approval/denial of a permit. This successful outcome ends any further delays and allows our client to proceed with the three actions in the superior court.