Appeals Court Agrees: Attempt To Stifle Online Critic Gets Anti-SLAPPed Away

from the good-news dept

A couple years ago, we wrote about the Sedgwick v. Delsman case, in which a guy who was upset with Sedgwick (a company handling claims management services) created some anti-Sedgwick content online, including “Wanted” posters of its management. Sedgwick sued, pulling out a bunch of legal theories and the court knocked them all down, mostly relying on California’s anti-SLAPP law, since the original filing was clearly designed to silence Delsman. On top of that, the court also noted that even though Delsman was using photos of Sedgwick managers, it was clearly fair use. Lots of folks were surprised when Sedgwick appealed, but Eric Goldman lets us know that the 9th Circuit has upheld the lower court’s ruling that the case should be tossed on anti-SLAPP grounds:

The district court properly dismissed Sedgwick’s defamation and trade libel claims under California?s anti-SLAPP statute because defendant Delsman’s conduct was in furtherance of his free speech rights in connection with an issue of public interest, and Sedgwick did not meet its burden of establishing a probability of prevailing on its claims

As Goldman points out, this is another example of why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law. In other states, such a bogus lawsuit would have gone on much longer involving a much higher likelihood of speech being stifled.

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