Metabolic Research v. Ferrell

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 02-09-2012
  • Case #: 10-16209
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Senior District Judge J. Singleton for the Court; Circuit Judges J. Bybee and M. Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

A motion to dismiss under anti-SLAPP statutes must meet the criteria applicable to the collateral order doctrine in order to be immediately reviewable as an interlocutory appeal.

In 2009, California attorney Ferrell sent “demand letters” to Metabolic Research, Inc. (“Metabolic”) and General Nutrition Centers, Inc. notifying them that they had violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”) by advertising false claims about the benefits of Stemulite, which the companies had sold as a fitness supplement. His demands included refunds for clients he purported to represent as well as remedial measures for others who had bought the product. Metabolic then filed a lawsuit against Ferrell alleging extortion and racketeering among other complaints, seeking declaratory relief and punitive damages. Ferrell removed the case to court and filed a motion to dismiss under Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute, which was dismissed. The Court considered the question of whether it had subject matter jurisdiction to hear an appeal of the district court’s decision under the collateral order doctrine. In Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541 (1949) the Supreme Court established three criteria that an interlocutory appeal must satisfy to be reviewable under the collateral order doctrine. It must: (1) conclusively determine the question in dispute; (2) resolve an issue that is separate from the merits of the case; and (3) be unreviewable on appeal from the final judgment. The Court found that the Nevada anti-SLAPP law allows citizens to obtain prompt review of potential SLAPP lawsuits and have them dismissed, but does not prevent them from being sued. Accordingly, the statute does not satisfy the third prong of the collateral order doctrine and is not immediately appealable. DISMISSED.

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