June 30, 2016

Dismissal of Claims under Anti-SLAPP Statute Not Immediately Appealable

Connor Choate

In Hyan v. Hummer, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the dismissal of a claim under California’s anti-SLAPP statute against was not a “final decision” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d). Despite case law holding that the denial of a motion to strike claims under the statute is immediately appealable, the court, citing the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, wrote “‘any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties’ is not final.”

In Hyan, the plaintiff alleged defendants hindered him from collecting on a legal malpractice judgment. One of the defendants filed a motion to strike claims under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which the district court granted. However, Hyan’s case continued against the last defendant. Hyan appealed.

On appeal, Hyan argued the district court’s anti-SLAPP order was a “final decision,” and the Ninth Circuit therefore had jurisdiction. The court, however, held the order did not constitute a “final decision” as it dismissed only two of the defendants, while one remained in district court.

In previous cases where the Ninth Circuit reviewed anti-SLAPP orders, all of the defendants were dismissed by the district court’s order, unlike Hyan’s case. Distinguishing cases where the court had held that the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion to strike is appealable, the court held the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion to strike is an important right granting immunity from suit and is, therefore, immediately appealable.

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Connor Choate

Summer intern with Austin Law Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina.