SAN FRANCISCO — A company initially hired to assist in the negotiations to bring a National Football League stadium to the City of Carson has won, in part, an anti-SLAPP appeal against the city.
On Feb. 4, the Supreme Court of California affirmed, in part, Rand Resources's motion to strike certain portions of a civil action against the City of Carson.
Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar affirmed, in part, an appeals court ruling that the "causes of action asserted in Rand's’ dispute with the City did not arise from City’s acts in furtherance of their right of free speech in connection with a public issue with the exception of two discrete claims, which were within the scope of subdivision of the anti-SLAPP statute."
The court also reversed in part the appeals court judgment, remanding the matter for proceedings "including a determination of whether Rand has established a probability of prevailing on their intentional interference claims."
According to court filings, the dispute arose after the city hired Rand in 2012 as its agent to negotiate with the NFL about the possibility of building a football stadium in the city. The city was looking to have a new, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex that would serve as the home stadium for an NFL team.
However, Rand contends that city attorney Bill Wynder "made certain representations to Rand regarding extension of the Exclusive Agency Agreement (EAA) even prior to Rand starting discussions with the NFL. They further contend that the city 'stopped adhering to the terms of the EAA' around April 2013. The city then hired another company to begin negotiating with the NFL, a breach of the exclusive agreement," Rand contends.
Rand also alleged that in July 2014, the city breached the EAA when it voted to deny a request for an extension of the EAA.
Justice Cuellar wrote: "The City Council indeed reviewed whether to renew plaintiffs’ contract with the City. But the anti-SLAPP statute protects defendants’ statements made 'in connection with' that issue only where such statements form the basis of plaintiffs’ claims—that is, where the statements themselves constitute the wrongs giving rise to the complaint. In this case, the statements on which plaintiffs based their claims against the City defendants were either (1) unrelated to the issue considered by the City Council, or (2) made long before the issue came “under consideration or review” by the City Council."