SLAPP010 – Travolta and Yelp Anti-SLAPP Motions

California SLAPP Law Podcast

In this week’s podcast, we look at two unsuccessful anti-SLAPP motions that were decided this week, and examine where the attorneys went wrong.

Yelp continues to get into mischief. In Episode 4 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we discussed the case of Yelp v. McMillan Law Group, wherein Yelp is suing a law firm, claiming that it posted fake reviews, and that Yelp was damaged as a result. McMillan Law Group filed an anti-SLAPP motion, and we are awaiting the results.

Now, in the case of Demetriades v. Yelp, the tables have been turned, and the plaintiff is essentially suing Yelp for its fake reviews about itself. Yelp tries to promote the notion that its reviews are filtered and trustworthy, despite all evidence to the contrary. Demetriades, who has had several bogus reviews written about his restaurant, didn’t try to sue Yelp for those bogus reviews, but instead sued Yelp for claiming that reviews on the site are trustworthy. Yelp brought an anti-SLAPP motion, which was DENIED.

We also examined Douglas Gotterba v. John Travota, where Travolta’s former pilot from the 80’s has decided to publish a tell-all book about Travolta, that apparently alleges a homosexual lifestyle. When Travolta threatened to sue, claiming Gotterba was subject to a confidentiality agreement, Gotterba did exactly what you are supposed to do, and filed a declaratory relief action.

Basically, Gotterba is simply asking a court to determine if he is in fact subject to a confidentiality agreement. If so, he will slunk away into the night. If not, then he will be free to publish the book. Great solution, right?

Not according to Travolta’s attorneys. they claimed that Gotterba’s action was really just an attempt to get Travolta’s attorneys to stop sending warning letters to publishers. Since pre-litigation letters are privileged, they brought an anti-SLAPP motion against the declaratory relief action.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the letters may have triggered the action, but they are not the basis of the action. Motion DENIED.

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Aaron Morris, Attorney
Aaron Morris
Morris & Stone, LLP

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