Plaintiff insured filed an action against defendants, an insurer and its investigator, alleging malicious prosecution and other claims arising from the cessation of disability benefits and the insured's subsequent prosecution for fraud. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) granted defendants' motion to strike the malicious prosecution claim under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16. The insured appealed.
Overview: civil litigation lawyer
After an investigation indicated that the insured was not totally disabled, the insurer suspended the insured's disability benefits. Two years later, the insured was prosecuted for mail fraud based on his alleged ineligibility for benefits. After being acquitted of mail fraud, the insured filed the instant suit. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's grant of defendants' motion filed under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16, the anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) statute, to strike the malicious prosecution claim in the second amended complaint. The insured claimed that defendants reported to the government his alleged fraud for the purpose of instigating the prosecution against him. The court held that the malicious prosecution claim fell within the ambit of the anti-SLAPP statute, because the claim arose from an act in furtherance of defendants' right to petition or free speech. Moreover, under Cal. Ins. Code § 1871 et seq., defendants were required to report fraud to the public authorities. The wording of the insured's complaint showed that the claim did not challenge the totality of defendants' acts, including the denial of benefits.
The court affirmed.