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Developer Shy's Suit Against Homeowner Thrown Out on Anti-SLAPP Grounds

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, September 26, 2008, at 03:15PM
SB Grand Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Defendant Jessica Jordan is a homeowner in SB Grand, a building developed by Barry Shy.

Developer Barry Shy's attempt to clear his name via the courts was dealt a major blow this week as Superior Court Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos granted an anti-SLAPP motion filed by attorneys for Jessica Jordan, a homeowner in the Shy-developed SB Grand.

The ruling strikes the complaints Shy had filed against Jordan and leaves the developer responsible for the defendant's legal fees and court costs.

A SLAPP suit, or "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation," is a suit intended to punish someone for engaging in free speech. California has particularly tough laws against SLAPP suits, providing mechanisms for defendants to get a judge to quickly rule on the potential merits of the case.

Shy's suit against Jordan alleged defamation and loss of business as a result of items published on Jordan's website, truedowntown.com.

Palazuelos' ruling determined that the case against Jordan met both of the criteria to be struck down under California's Anti-SLAPP laws. First, the court ruled that "all three causes of action alleged in the complaint 'arise from' [Jordan's] exercise of free speech about a public issue in a place open to the public." Palazuelos then ruled that Shy did not provide provide sufficient evidence that the case had merit and could be successful.

Jordan was represented by Jamey Leonard of the non-profit First Ammendment Project. Asked for a statement on the decision, Leonard emailed this to blogdowntown:

The First Amendment Project was proud to defend Jessica Jordan's exercise of free speech, and she has our heartfelt congratulations. Judge Palazuelos' ruling should serve as a reminder to all Californians that they cannot be silenced by even the most powerful of opponents. Free Speech is the cornerstone of our democratic society, and while it is up to our courts to protect this right, the true burden is on our citizens to bravely speak their minds, no matter who stands against them.

Jordan is currently out of the country doing film work, but emailed blogdowntown this morning to provide information on the ruling.

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