Roberts v. McAfee

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 11-07-2011
  • Case #: 10-15561; 10-15670
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tashima for the Court; Circuit Judges B. Fletcher and Reinhardt
  • Full Text Opinion

In malicious prosecution cases, the plaintiff carries a burden of showing that undisputed facts underlying criminal charges do not amount to probable cause. Also, California Civil Code § 3425.3 precludes claims that a failure to remove a defamatory post constitutes a republication of the defamatory statement.

As General Counsel of McAfee, Inc., Roberts allegedly modified three stock option grants by backdating their strike dates. Roberts was investigated and indicted, but after more information came to light, he was acquitted on a portion of the charges and the rest were dropped. Roberts then sued McAfee for malicious prosecution, defamation, and false light invasion of privacy, and "McAfee moved to strike Roberts' claims pursuant to California's . . . ("anti-SLAPP") statute." The district court granted McAfee's motion pertaining only to the defamation and false light claims, and both parties appealed. In reviewing Roberts' malicious prosecution claims, the Court found that he did not meet his burden of proving that McAfee lacked probable cause for the charges. Considering only the undisputed facts of each chargeable offense, the Court found that in each instance "it was objectively reasonable for the defendant to suspect the plaintiff had committed a crime." In reviewing Roberts' appeal of the defamation and false light claims, the Court concluded that the district court had properly dismissed "the claims as time-barred under the applicable one-year statute of limitations" because McAfee's failure to remove the applicable web posts after "it received substantial indications of falsity" did not constitute a republication such that the statute of limitations would restart. No. 10-15670 AFFIRMED; No. 10-15561 REVERSED and REMANDED.

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