Soukup v. Stock, 118 Cal. App. 4th 1490, 15 Cal. Rptr. 3d 303 (2004)

Peggy Soukup, a former employee of the Law Offices of Herbert Hafif, sued Ronald C. Stock for abuse of process and malicious prosecution based upon Stock’s prosecution of an earlier lawsuit against Soukup on behalf of the Hafifs and their law firm. The underlying lawsuit, which involved Soukup’s alleged disclosure to a third party of confidential information that Soukup obtained during her employment with the Hafifs, was itself dismissed in response to Soukup’s filing a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure. Although the trial court denied Stock’s special motion to strike this subsequent lawsuit, the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the present action arose out of Stock’s exercise of his free expression rights on behalf of his clients, the Hafifs. Further, the Court held that Soukup had not established the probability of her prevailing in the instant lawsuit. Cf. The Traditional Cat Ass’n, Inc. v. Gilbreath, 118 Cal. App. 4th 392 (2004) (trial court should have granted anti-SLAPP motion to strike defamation claim based on statute of limitations defense).