A California appeals court has upheld a lower court’s ruling striking a complaint in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case under the state’s anti-SLAPP statute.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Davis v. Mandarich Law Group can be accessed by clicking here.
SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and anti-SLAPP motions are filed by defendants as a means of obtaining early dismissals of meritless lawsuits.
Back in 2014, the defendant filed a collection lawsuit in California state court against the plaintiff. The plaintiff answered the complaint and was provided with a declaration from an employee of the original creditor, who lived more than 150 miles from the place of trial.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging she was confused by the declaration and said it violated the FDCPA because it falsely represented the employee was available for service of process despite living more than 150 miles away, and that the defendants routinely used similar declarations in collection matters. The defendants moved to compel arbitration and an arbitration award was granted in favor of the defendants.
The plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which vacated the judgment to determine the plaintiff had standing to sue, and remanded the case back to the district court to answer that question. The district court determined the plaintiff did not have standing and dismissed the complaint, which the plaintiff re-filed in state court. The defendants moved to strike the complaint and the state court granted the anti-SLAPP motion.
Ultimately, the plaintiff was a party to the original lawsuit and the resulting arbitration proceedings, the appeals court wrote. Although the Ninth Circuit vacated the arbitration judgment “neither court vacated the award itself,” the appeals court wrote.