Manufactured Home v. San Diego County

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 08-26-2011
  • Case #: 09-55586; 10-55496
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge W. Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judges McKeown and Clifton
  • Full Text Opinion

A California state-law claim of trade libel must contain a prima facie case that the “substance” of the statement(s) is false.

Manufactured Home Properties, Inc. (“MHC”) owns and operates mobile home parks throughout the United States. Both after and before a severe sewage backup at an MHC mobile home park, San Diego County’s Hazardous Incident Report Team (“HIRT”) supervisor, Dianne Jacob, criticized MHC in numerous statements made to the public. MHC filed suit against San Diego County alleging various federal law violations, and a state-law claim of trade libel (defamation) and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage against the County and Supervisor Jacob’s statements. The County filed an anti-SLAPP (“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” statute) motion to strike MHC’s state-law causes of action. The district court granted the motion, reasoning that Jacob’s statements were non-actionable statements of opinion rather than false assertions of fact. Additionally, the court dismissed MHC’s federal claims, awarding attorney’s fees under both the federal-law claims and the motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute. The Ninth Circuit concluded MHC failed to make a prima facie case that the “substance” of Jacob’s statements was false. Furthermore, the Court held the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees incurred by Defendants in bringing the anti-SLAPP motions. AFFIRMED.

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