Can An Anti-SLAPP Motion Be Used To Strike A Single Cause of Action?

As I’ve explained in previous posts, one of most common defense motions in response to a complaint for defamation is the anti-SLAPP motion. The beauty of this motion is that it gives the defendant an opportunity to eliminate a lawsuit at an early stage of litigation before litigation becomes cost prohibitive.  Also, if the motion is successful the defendant is awarded attorneys’ fees earned in connection with bringing the anti-SLAPP motion.  So, as you can see, this is an extremely powerful weapon in the hands of able defense counsel.

Now, a common question that I get with respect to anti-SLAPP motions is whether it’s possible to attempt to strike a single cause of action, rather than an entire complaint.  The reason I get this question, I think, is because the statute (CCP §425.16) uses various terms seemingly interchangeably like "claim," "complaint," and "cause of action."  

But the answer is clear that a single cause of action can be stricken pursuant to case law in cases like:  Kajima Eng. & Const., Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (2002) 95 Cal.App.4th 921, 929; see Thomas v. Quintero (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 635, 646.

Being able to strike a single cause of action is important to keep in mind in crafting your litigation strategy.  Eliminating a single cause of action and forcing the plaintiff to pay your attorneys’ will hurt his pocketbook and cause him to lose faith in his case, and best of all (although a bit insidious, but true) it may make him lose confidence in his attorney.

Keep this in mind as you decide how to respond to a complaint.

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