Dec 15 2016

Courtroom Success 2016-32: Morrison Mahoney Partner Doyle Valley & Associate Jillian McGrath

Morrison Mahoney Partner Doyle Valley and Associate Jillian McGrath won judgment on their Special Motion to Dismiss pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute. The plaintiff sued our client, who was the attorney for the plaintiff’s ex-wife in a divorce proceeding, for slander. The plaintiff claimed that statements made by our client in an e-mail to the plaintiff’s divorce counsel (accusing plaintiff of extortion) were false, made with malice and were not subject to any privilege.

Doyle and Jill argued that any statements from our client to the plaintiff’s counsel were made while our client was engaged in valid petitioning activity (representing the ex-wife in a Complaint for Modification in the divorce action) and the plaintiff could not meet his burden to show that our client’s right to petition was devoid of any reasonable factual support or any arguable basis in law. Because the plaintiff’s claim was based solely on our client’s exercise of her right to petition, Doyle and Jill argued that it was barred by the anti-SLAPP statute. The judge agreed and, ruling from the bench, held that the statement in issue was directly related to ongoing litigation and was protected petitioning activity.

The court also agreed that the statement related to the Complaint for Modification and that the plaintiff was unable to show that the statement was devoid of any reasonable factual support or any arguable basis in law. Furthermore, the court noted that the statement was protected by the absolute litigation privilege. The plaintiff’s claims were dismissed and separate and final judgment will enter in our client's favor.

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