Plaintiff v. Filmmakers and Distributors
Sedgwick obtained a motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP statute on behalf of our clients, an Academy-award winning director and the producers and distributors of his film, in California state court. Our clients produced a documentary film about a sensationalized kidnapping incident in Britain from the 1970s. In 2009, the woman accused in the kidnapping agreed to be interviewed for our client’s film, which included interviews with others who refuted her version of the events. She sued for defamation, misappropriation of likeness, violation of privacy and infliction of emotional distress. Sedgwick filed a motion to strike those claims under California's anti-SLAPP statute, which protects against meritless suits arising from the exercise of the rights of free speech and petition. The motion was granted on the grounds that our clients' actions were in furtherance of their right of free speech on matters of public interest (including tabloid journalism, the Mormon faith and the plaintiff’s actions) and the plaintiff, a limited-purpose public figure, could not show a likelihood of prevailing on her claims because she could not prove our clients acted with actual malice (i.e., a reckless disregard for the truth).