By Jenny Choi – Edited by Jens Frankenreiter
The Washington State Court of Appeals rendered a decision in a case involving the interpretation of Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute in the context of a lawsuit for defamation and tortious interference with business expectancy brought by the director of a performing arts theatre against a blogging ex-employee. The Court of Appeals reversed a trial court judgment which had dismissed the lawsuit under the anti-SLAPP statute.
The Washington State Court of Appeals held that the ex employee James Ryan’s blogging against Yvonne Johnson, the director of the theatre, was not for public concern and that Ryan was not entitled to assert the anti-SLAPP statute to dismiss Johnson’s claim. In so holding, the court narrowly interpreted the “public concern” requirement, and distinguished the Washington anti-SLAPP statute from California anti-SLAPP statute, which uses the phrase “public interest” rather than “public concern.” The anti-SLAPP statute allows a defendant to dismiss a plaintiff’s defamation claim and requires a plaintiff to pay $10,000 for damage if the defendant’s statement is “in connection with an issue of public concern.” RCW 4.24.525(d). (more…)