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Taus v. Loftus

Supreme Court of California

February 26, 2007, Filed



 [***779]  [**1188]   GEORGE, C. J.—Plaintiff in this action, Nicole Taus, was the unnamed subject of a “case study” set forth in a prominent scholarly article describing her apparent recovery of a long-repressed memory of childhood abuse. (The article referred to plaintiff as “Jane Doe.”) Defendants are the authors and publishers of two subsequent articles that, in questioning the basic premise advanced by the initial article, disclosed various aspects of plaintiff's family background and personal life but did not disclose her identity. (Like the initial article, defendants' articles referred to plaintiff as “Jane Doe.”)

 [**1189]  Shortly after [****4]  the later articles were published, plaintiff filed the present action against defendants, challenging defendants' activities in investigating, publishing, and thereafter publicly discussing  [***780]  their articles and investigation. The complaint asserted that defendants improperly had invaded plaintiff's privacy and committed other tortious conduct by investigating plaintiff's background and discovering and disclosing information concerning her private life without her consent.


 Defendants responded by filing special motions to strike the complaint pursuant to California's anti-SLAPP statute (Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16), 1 asserting that the complaint sought to impose liability upon them for actions that were undertaken in furtherance of their constitutional right of free speech. The trial court denied the motions in large part, concluding that the bulk of plaintiff's claims should be permitted to go forward. On appeal, the Court of Appeal held that most of the claims set forth in the complaint should be dismissed under the anti-SLAPP statute, but also concluded that the suit could proceed with regard to four aspects of defendants' conduct that were challenged [****5]  in the complaint.

Following the Court of Appeal's decision, only defendants sought review in this court. The petition for review contended that although the Court of Appeal was correct in dismissing the bulk of plaintiff's claims, the appellate court had erred in permitting any aspect of the action to go forward. We granted review to consider whether [****6]  the Court of Appeal correctly determined that plaintiff's suit could proceed as to the four points challenged by defendants.

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40 Cal. 4th 683 *; 151 P.3d 1185 **; 54 Cal. Rptr. 3d 775 ***; 2007 Cal. LEXIS 1896 ****; 2007 Cal. Daily Op. Service 2008; 2007 Daily Journal DAR 2512; 35 Media L. Rep. 1657

NICOLE TAUS, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. ELIZABETH LOFTUS et al., Defendants and Appellants.

Subsequent History: Reported at Taus (Nicole) v. Loftus (Elizabeth), 2007 Cal. LEXIS 2340 (Cal., Feb. 26, 2007)

Prior History:  [****1]  Superior Court of Solano County, No. FCS021557, James F. Moelk, Judge. Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Two, No. A104689.

Taus (Nicole) v. Loftus (Elizabeth), 2006 Cal. LEXIS 13512 (Cal., Nov. 1, 2006)

Disposition: The judgment rendered by the Court of Appeal is reversed in part and affirmed in part, and the matter is remanded to that court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. Defendants are awarded their costs on appeal.


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Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Strike, General Overview, Torts, Invasion of Privacy, Public Disclosure of Private Facts, Defenses, Elements, Defamation, Elements, Defenses, Privileges, Qualified Privileges, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Burden Shifting, Intrusions, Judicial Notice, Adjudicative Facts, Public Records