Mendoza v. Hamzeh
California Court of Appeal
155 Cal. Rptr. 3d 832 (2013)
Miguel Mendoza (plaintiff) was employed as the manager of a print and copy business owned by Guy Chow. Chow and Mendoza were engaged in a dispute over Mendoza’s management of the business. Reed Hamzeh (defendant), Chow’s attorney, sent Mendoza a demand letter stating that he had uncovered fraud and conversion and if Mendoza did not repay the damages Chow would sue Mendoza and report Mendoza to law-enforcement authorities, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Better Business Bureau, and customers and vendors. Mendoza sued Hamzeh for civil extortion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unfair business practices. Mendoza claimed that Hamzeh’s threats to report Mendoza to law-enforcement authorities and the IRS constituted extortion. Hamzeh filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that the demand letter constituted a protected litigation communication and Mendoza’s claims were barred by the litigation and common-interest privileges. Concluding that the demand letter was not covered by the anti-SLAPP statute, the court denied Hamzeh’s anti-SLAPP motion and awarded Mendoza legal fees.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Chaney, J.)
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