World Fin. Group, Inc. v. HBW Ins. & Fin. Services, Inc., 172 Cal. App. 4th 1561 (2009)

WFG filed a complaint against its direct competitor, HBW, and six of its agents for alleged breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, unfair competition, interference with prospective economic advantage and unjust enrichment. In response, HBW filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as a SLAPP suit pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16. In its anti-SLAPP motion, HBW asserted that all of WFG’s claims were based on defendants’ speech and conduct in furtherance of the exercise of their right to free speech in connection with a public issue (i.e., “the pursuit of lawful employment pursuant to Bus. & Prof. Code § 16600” as well as “workforce mobility and free competition”). The trial court denied HBW’s anti-SLAPP motion, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that because the statements at issue were “merely incidental to WFG’s claims, they are insufficient to subject any cause of action, much less the entire complaint, to the anti-SLAPP law.” Compare Hansen v. Dep’t of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 171 Cal. App. 4th 1537 (2009) (former employee’s whistleblower lawsuit was properly stricken under anti-SLAPP statute).