Law School Case Brief
Tamkin v. CBS Broad., Inc. - 193 Cal. App. 4th 133, 122 Cal. Rptr. 3d 264 (2011)
An act is in furtherance of the right of free speech if the act helps to advance that right or assists in the exercise of that right. The creation of a television show is an exercise of free speech.
Plaintiffs Scott Tamkin, et.al., a husband and wife, sued defendants CBS Broadcasting, Inc. et. al., a broadcaster and a television writer, for defamation and false light invasion of privacy. Plaintiffs' complaint arose from defendants' conduct with respect to the writing and dissemination of a screenplay for an episode of a popular television show, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CSI). The trial court denied defendants' special motion to strike pursuant to the anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) statute.
Whether defendants’ acts were in furtherance of the exercise of their right of free speech.
The court concluded that defendants' conduct arose from protected activities because defendants' acts were in furtherance of the exercise of their right of free speech in connection with an issue of public interest. The court rejected plaintiffs' argument that defendants were not entitled to the protection of the anti-SLAPP statute because it was not necessary for the writer to use real names as placeholders for guest characters when she could have created fictional names instead. Plaintiffs did not meet their burden of showing a probability that they would prevail on their defamation causes of action because they could not show that a reasonable person would have understood that the alleged defamatory statements referred to them. No reasonable person would have understood the fictional characters portrayed in the episode to be plaintiffs. Because all of the causes of action in the complaint were subject to being stricken under the anti-SLAPP statute, the anti-SLAPP motion should have been granted.
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