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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Aber v. Comstock: Supervisor's Defamation Suit Against Employee Who Alleged Harassment Is Subject to Anti-SLAPP Motion to Strike

Just a quick note on this case, Aber v. Comstock (12/18/12, pub. 1/11/13) --- Cal.App.4th ---. Plaintiff Lisa Aber sued her employer and two of its employees based on an alleged sexual assault by the employees. One of the employee defendants, Michael Comstock, cross-complained against Aber, alleging claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Aber filed a special motion to strike the under the anti-SLAPP statute (Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16). The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the cross-complaint, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding: 
  1. The cross-complaint fell within the SLAPP statute because the assault allegations made to the police, the employer's HR department, and other third parties were "statements made in, or in connection with matters under review by, an official proceeding or body." Slip op. at 9-16. 
  2. Comstock failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits.  Slip op. at 16-25. 
The opinion is available here

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