Charney v. Standard General, LP, 10 Cal. App. 5th 149 (2017)

Dov Charney, the former president and CEO of American Apparel, Inc., was terminated following an investigation into allegations that he had engaged in various types of misconduct. Following Charney’s departure, Standard General effectively took over American Apparel through its control of company stock and the Board. After Charney’s employment was terminated, Standard General issued a press release that stated:

As we have stated previously, our objective is to help American Apparel grow and succeed. We supported the independent, third-party and very thorough investigation into the allegations against Mr. Charney, and respect the Board of Directors’ decision to terminate him based on the results of that investigation.

Charney sued, asserting that the press release contained false and defamatory information about him. In response to the complaint, Standard General filed an Anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court granted and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that Charney had failed to satisfy his burden of showing minimal merit to his claim that the press release was defamatory: “The statement cannot be proven false as it does not state that Charney engaged in criminal conduct or that his conduct violated certain standards, or even that there existed any particular conduct that caused his termination.”