Legal Memorandum: Malicious Prosecution Complaint in CA

Issue: What needs to be alleged in a California malicious-prosecution complaint to defeat an "anti-SLAPP" motion?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Malicious-prosecution complaint; "Anti-SLAPP" motion; Legal sufficiency and triability
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: 74 P.3d 737; 52 P.3d 685; 29 Cal. 4th 53; 23 Cal. 4th 429; 124 Cal. Rptr. 2d 507; 52 P.3d 703; 29 Cal. 4th 82
Cited Statutes: Cal. Civ. P. Code Ann. § 425.16(b)(2)
Date: 11/01/2005

An action for malicious prosecution is not exempted from the application of the anti-SLAPP statute.  Jarrow Formulas, Inc. v. LaMarche (2003) 31 Cal. 4th 728, 74 P.3d 737, 3 Cal. Rptr. 3d 636.  When a defendant brings an anti-SLAPP motion, it must establish that the plaintiff’s case arises from conduct falling within the statute. The plaintiff then must demonstrate a probability of prevailing on the claim.  Equilon Enters. v. Consumer Cause, Inc. (2002) 29 Cal. 4th 53, 67, 52 P.3d 685, 124 Cal. Rptr. 2d 507, 518. 

The court’s role is similar to the one it has on a summary judgment motion.  See Mattel, Inc. v. Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps (2d Dist. 2002) 99 Cal. App. 4th 1179, 1188, 121 Cal. Rptr. 2d 794, 800.  In deciding whether the plaintiff has met its burden, the trial court is to consider “the pleadings, and supporting and opposing affidavits stating the facts upon which the liability or defense is based.”  Cal. Civ. P. Code Ann. § 425.16(b)(2).  “[A] probability of prevailing is established if the plaintiff presents prima facie evidence which, if believed by the trier of fact, will result in a judgment for plaintiff.  If the plaintiff meets its burden, the motion must be denied.”  Mattel, Inc., 99 Cal. App. 4th at 1188-89, 121 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 800.

The statute “requires only ‘a minimum level of legal sufficiency and triability.'”  […]