Defamation and Wrongful Termination Claims Against the Los Angeles Times Were Properly Dismissed
Frederick Theodore Rall III, a political cartoonist and blogger, sued the Los Angeles Times after it published a “note to readers” and (later) a more detailed report questioning the accuracy of a blog post that Rall wrote for the Times. Rall then sued the Times for defamation and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The Times responded to the complaint by filing an anti-SLAPP motion on the ground that its actions involved “matters of public interest well within the scope of the anti-SLAPP statute” and that the Times had made a “constitutionally protected editorial decision to stop publishing [Rall’s] work.” The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, and the Court of Appeal (in an earlier opinion) affirmed.
The California Supreme Court granted review but then transferred the matter back to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc., 7 Cal. 5th 871 (2019). In this opinion, the Court of Appeal “reconsidered” its original opinion but “having done so, we again affirm the trial court’s orders.” See also Long Beach Unified School Dist. v. Margaret Williams, LLC, 2019 WL 7343474 (Cal. Ct. App. 2019) (school district’s cross complaint for indemnity against contractor arose from protected activity in the form of the contractor’s underlying action against the district, affirming dismissal under anti-SLAPP statute).