Dible v. Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, Inc., 170 Cal. App. 4th 843 (2009)

Leah Dible, who was employed by the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics as a psychiatric counselor, was terminated after a jail inmate as to whom she had some level of responsibility committed suicide. Dible alleged that when she was terminated, she was told that her negligence had resulted in the inmate’s suicide and that statements to that effect were made to the Employment Development Department (“EDD”) in connection with her claim for unemployment benefits. In response to Dible’s defamation claim, defendants filed a demurrer and an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) motion. The trial court granted the motion, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that defendants’ statements to the EDD were “protected activity” within the meaning of the anti-SLAPP statute and that Dible could not establish a probability of success on her defamation claim because there was no alleged publication or republication to a third person as is required to establish such a claim. See also Miller v. City of Los Angeles, 169 Cal. App. 4th 1373 (2008) (employee’s claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation arose out of protected activity and were properly dismissed under the anti-SLAPP statute).