The purpose of an anti-SLAPP motion in California is to dispose of lawsuits at an early stage of litigation. The motion must be filed within 60 days of the filing of the complaint, unless a court expressly allows a late filing. CCP § 425.16(f). While courts generally have wide discretion to allow late filings, no court has squarely decided the issue–how long is too long? That is, until now. In Platypus wear, Inc. v. Goldberg (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 772, the court decided the question of whether the trial court abused its discretion in granting a party’s request to file an anti-SLAPP after 60 days.
The appellate court held that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the defendant to file a late anti-SLAPP motion nearly two years after the initial complaint was filed. It reasoned that the purpose of the statute is to ensure prompt resolution of cases aimed at chilling speech. The court stated that the defendant failed to offer a “compelling explanation” or any “extenuating circumstances” for the delay. Also key to the court’s decision was the fact that the defendant did not file the motion until after the parties had conducted substantial discovery. And since one of the chief reasons behind the anti-SLAPP statute is to protect defendants from being subjected to costly discovery, the court determined that the motion was simply untimely.
The lesson is clear hear: File an anti-SLAPP motion within the 60 day period. It’s simply not worth the risk to wait whatever the reason.