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Flatley v. Mauro

California Supreme Court
139 P.3d 2 (2006)


Facts

Michael Flatley (plaintiff) owns the stock of corporations that present live performances by Irish dance troupes around the world. D. Dean Mauro (defendant) represented Tyna Robertson. On January 2, 2003, Mauro sent a letter to Flatley’s attorney demanding $1 million to settle a claim that Robertson was raped by Flatley. The letter stated that, if litigation was filed, Mauro would also disseminate press releases to various media sources. Flatley’s attorney called Mauro, and Mauro threatened to publicize the litigation everywhere one of Flatley’s dance troupes performed for the rest of Flatley’s life. Flatley did not settle the claim. On March 4, 2003, Robertson sued Flatley. Robertson and Mauro appeared on television, describing the alleged rape in detail. Two days later, on March 6, 2003, Flatley sued Mauro, alleging claims of civil extortion, defamation, and fraud. Mauro filed a motion under the anti-SLAPP statute, seeking to strike Flatley’s complaint. Flatley responded to the motion, arguing that Mauro’s conduct constituted criminal extortion and arguing that Flatley could demonstrate a probability of prevailing on the merits. The trial court denied the motion to strike, finding that Mauro’s conduct constituted criminal extortion. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the order. Mauro then petitioned the California Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Moreno, J.)

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Concurrence (Werdegar, J.)

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