Defamation Cross-Complaint Filed by Defendant to Sexual Harassment Suit Barred Under California Anti-SLAPP Statute

By January 14, 2013Articles

Aber v. Comstock (First Appellate District, January 11, 2013) the California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s granting of an Anti-SLAPP motion to strike the cross-complaint of a defendant who alleged he had been defamed and emotionally harmed by the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by co-worker Lisa Aber.

Plaintiff Lisa Aber sued her employer and two of its employees based on an alleged sexual harassment and assault by the employees. Defendant Michael Comstock, one of the employees, filed a cross-complaint against Aber, alleging claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Aber filed a special motion to strike the cross-complaint under the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) found at Code Civil Procedure Section § 425.16). The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the cross-complaint.

The court of appeal reasoned that Plaintiff Abers’ accusations of sexual misconduct against her coworker to a nurse, the police and her employer constituted protected speech and protected activity under CCP 425.16 and therefore could not serve as the basis of a defamation cross-complaint against her. To read more about the decision, click the link below.

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