In December 2006, Richard F. Fritts, acting on behalf of Executive Excellence, LLC and another firm (sellers) (defendants) contracted with Martin Brothers Investments, LLC and another firm (buyers) (plaintiffs) for the sale and purchase of two tracts of land, contingent on the buyers persuading local governments to rezone the property by April 1, 2007. The sellers rescinded the contracts when the deadline passed without action on the buyers' rezoning applications. In late April and mid-May 2007, the buyers or their agents told third parties that they intended to pursue rezoning and enforce the contracts, and that the tracts were actively involved in litigation that was intended to "teach [Fritts] a lesson," and which could take years to settle. The buyers sued the sellers and filed lis pendens notices at the end of May 2007. In October 2007, an agent for the buyers told third parties that the buyers could keep the tracts in litigation for the next five to ten years. The buyers later dropped their claims, without prejudice, but they did not remove the lis pendens. The sellers filed a counterclaim, alleging that the buyers slandered the sellers' title by wrongfully filing and maintaining lis pendens on the tracts, and by making false and malicious statements regarding the property dispute. The trial court dismissed the sellers' claim, and they appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals.