As the only nonprofit provider of free and low-cost public interest First Amendment legal services in the country, First Amendment Project is often a last line of defense for its clients. Still, some cases throw the need for FAP’s services into especially stark relief.
Several months ago, FAP received a call from a severely physically disabled woman in a government-run long-term care facility. She had no assets whatsoever and no one to whom she could turn. A year prior, she had alleged to government hospital and law enforcement personnel that a nursing assistant responsible for her care had sexually assaulted her. The nursing assistant was investigated and his employment terminated. Just before the statute of limitations ran out, the nursing assistant sued the woman for defamation.
FAP filed an anti-SLAPP motion on the woman’s behalf on the basis that her statements to law enforcement and hospital officials were absolutely privileged under California law.
Last week the Court agreed, granted the motion and dismissed the case.