Monday, June 24, 2019

Remand In Anti-SLAPP Case Brought Against Law Firm

The Georgia Supreme Court has remanded a case where plaintiffs had sued defendants for advertising for cases to bring against nursing homes

We conclude that the [law firm] defendants met their burden under OCGA § 9-11-11.1 to show that the plaintiffs’ claims are ones arising from acts that could reasonably be construed as acts in furtherance of the defendants’ right of free speech under the United States Constitution in connection with an issue of public interest or concern, thereby triggering the application of OCGA § 9-11-11.1. The burden then shifted to the plaintiffs to establish that there was a probability that they would prevail on their claims. However, in analyzing these claims, the parties did not argue, and the trial court did not properly apply, the new standards for anti-SLAPP motions explained in more detail below. In particular, the parties and the trial court overlooked certain preliminary questions, which also have not been adequately briefed here. We are reluctant to address these questions in the first instance without affording the trial court an opportunity to consider them with adequate briefing from the parties. Accordingly, we vacate the trial court’s denial of the defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, and we remand the case with direction to reconsider the anti-SLAPP motion under the proper standards.

(Mike Frisch)

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