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Court Denies City of Alameda’s Motion to Strike Ann Marie Gallant’s Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

Last week, Judge Marshall Whitley denied a motion filed by attorneys for the City of Attorney, who were hoping to dismiss a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant.

Attorneys for the City of Alameda took the unusual step of arguing that Ms. Gallant’s lawsuit was prompted by the protected oral and written activities of city officials; they filed a so-called “anti-SLAPP” motion to dismiss the complaint.

Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation was originally created to protect non-governmental individuals from being sued for speaking out on matters of public concern. “SLAPP” lawsuits are characterized as lawsuits without merit intended to silence opposition or divert the resources of the defendant. For example, a developer might file a meritless lawsuit against a local blogger critical of development plans to silence him or her; the lawsuit would be a SLAPP suit, and the blogger’s defense would be “anti-SLAPP.”

In denying the City’s motion, Judge Whitely wrote, “Plaintiff’s [Ann Marie Gallant’s] claims arise from the City of Alameda’s termination of her employment contract rather than any petitioning or free speech activity protected by the anti-SLAPP statute. Because the Court finds that the complaint does not arise from protected activity within the meaning of [California Civil Procedure Code] 425.16, the Court need not reach the issue of whether plaintiff has made a sufficient showing on the merit of her claims.”

The ruling was filed on November 10th.

The case is RG11590505 in Alameda County Superior Court.

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