Price v. Operating Eng’rs Local Union No. 3, 195 Cal. App. 4th 962 (2011)

During the course of a strike, members of the union placed copies of a flyer on the doors and cars of the neighbors of the employer’s vice president and general manager Jim Price that said: “Neighbors, beware of this man: Jim Price”; “protect your family, safeguard your property”; and “complain to [his apartment complex] about the sort of person they’ve let in your community.” The flyer listed Price’s business cell phone number and his apartment number and encouraged Price’s neighbors to complain to him directly. Another flyer stated: “Resident Jim Price tried to take away workers’ pension benefits”; “threatened workers with arrest for publicizing their fight for workplace justice”; and “threatened to use armed guards against the workers to shut down their strike.” In response to Price’s lawsuit against the union for defamation and violation of Civil Code §§ 51.7 and 52.1, the union moved to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute (Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16). The trial court denied the motion on the ground that the union’s disparaging statements about Price involved an issue of private as opposed to public interest. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. See also Fox v. Vice, 563 U.S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 2205 (2011) (when a lawsuit involves both frivolous and non-frivolous claims, a court may grant reasonable fees to the defendant, but only for fees the defendant incurred as a result of the frivolous claims).