FAP Secures Victory for Environmental Non-Profit Organizations in SLAPP Suit

A San Diego County Superior Court Judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by real estate developers challenging a general plan update and zoning changes that, according to plaintiffs, significantly devalued their property investment. In a shotgun lawsuit, plaintiffs sued the County of San Diego, the Board of Supervisors, three environmental nonprofit organizations, and a few individuals with ties to both the nonprofit organizations and the County.

FAP represented the nonprofit organizations – The Protect Our Communities Foundation, Endangered Habitats League, and Endangered Habitats Conservancy, as well as the President of one of those organizations. The plaintiffs claimed that the nonprofit Defendants engaged in a “conspiracy” to litigate environmental actions and advocate for land use and energy alternatives, amounting to Intentional Interference with Prospective Business Advantage.

FAP filed a Special Motion to Strike (C.C.P. § 425.16) and successfully argued that plaintiffs’ claims arose out of legally protected activity, i.e., the right to engage in petitioning activity and to make statements in public forums in connection with an issue of public interest. The court also agreed with FAP that plaintiffs could not establish that they would prevail on the merits of their claims. As a result, FAPs clients were dismissed from the suit.