Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones…

Chris Beeman and Ash Mohindru recently obtained a judgment in favor of the defense at the conclusion of a four week trial in Alameda County Superior Court. The case involved allegations of defamation and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. Plaintiff was an HOA property management company and its owner, who alleged that statements made by the defendant damaged their reputations and caused the loss of a valuable contract. The statements were generally critiques of the property management company’s work performance, and our defense was that the communications were constitutionally privileged and substantially true. Plaintiff asked the Court to award $5,000,000 in damages.

At trial, the operative cross-complaint was ultimately depleted by way of several consecutive, successful dispositive motions. On the eve of trial, it was discovered that the Property Manager’s corporate status was suspended, and a motion to dismiss was granted as to that entity. The statute of limitations barred many of the alleged defamatory statements and a motion in limine on that issue was granted, which substantially narrowed the massive universe of potential, actionable statements.

Thereafter, trial commenced on the claims by the owner against the remaining defendant. At the close of the plaintiff’s case in chief, two motions for judgment were filed and, ultimately, granted in favor of our client. The Court found that the statements were constitutionally privileged because they were regarding a matter of public interest and made without malice.