First Amendment issues arise in innumerable contexts and we are prepared to address them in equally as many arenas. Kerr & Wagstaffe has substantial experience litigating and consulting with individuals and organizations to protect these important rights consistent with the public interest. We have fought numerous Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”)– cases filed to discourage individuals from exercising their First Amendment rights. Our dedication and skill in both the procedural and substantive aspects of First Amendment litigation are key to effectively protecting these rights.
Malicious Prosecution by Chevron Corporation Against Plaintiffs’ Attorney
Kerr & Wagstaffe successfully litigated a motion to strike a malicious prosecution action filed by Chevron against human rights lawyer Cristobal Bonifaz, arguing that the lawsuit is a quintessential Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (‘SLAPP’): a multi-national corporation sued a 75-year old semi-retired attorney, who operates his solo practice from a barn in rural Massachusetts, simply because the attorney—who is a native of Ecuador—had the audacity to dedicate the last 15 years of his legal career to legally assisting the poor, indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Amazon. After allowing limited discovery, the Court concluded that Chevron’s claims were without merit and dismissed the entire lawsuit with prejudice, entitling Kerr & Wagstaffe’s client to recovery of his attorney’s fees.
Television Station Defamation Lawsuit
Bay Area television station KTSF- Channel 26 reported on a press conference held by police in China announcing that a prominent Bay Area businessman was suspected of Internet bomb threats to destroy a Taipei railway station. The businessman sued the television station for defamation claiming that the report was false and misconstrued the police statement. Utilizing California’s anti-SLAPP statute, Kerr & Wagstaffe obtained an order in the trial court striking the entire lawsuit on the grounds that the report was a matter of high public interest and was privileged as a fair and true summary of the police charges. The firm successfully defended the dispositive ruling on appeal and helped establish the important precedent that the “fair and true report” privilege applies to coverage of official proceedings in foreign countries. The firm also obtained a ruling requiring the businessman to pay KTSF – Channel 26?s attorneys’ fees expended in defending the action.