Appellant David Herman filed a cross-complaint against respondents South of No North, LLC (SONN) and Daniel Starr, alleging defamation and related claims. Herman alleged that respondents caused a defamatory online article to be published about him, and that respondents told Herman’s employer and acquaintances that law enforcement agencies were investigating Herman for embezzling from respondents. Respondents filed a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16.
They asserted that because the online article stated that Starr had filed a police report regarding the allegations against Herman, Herman’s claims “arose from” a police report, which is protected activity under section 425.16. Respondents also contended that Herman’s claims did not have a probability of success, because filing a police report is privileged under Civil Code section 47. The trial court agreed and granted the motion.
The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that Herman did not allege that respondents filed a police report, nor did he allege any damages arising from the filing of a police report. To the contrary, Herman stated that he suspected no police report was ever filed, and that the online article and respondents’ statements to his employer and acquaintances were false. Because the filing of a police report constituted the sole basis for the special motion to strike, respondents failed to demonstrate that Herman’s claims “arose from” protected activity and the motion should have been denied.