The Second Appellate District in Urick v. Urick holds that the plain language of the anti-SLAPP statute (Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16) requires that it be applied to probate court petitions, including ones that may be a contest under Probate Code section 21310 et seq.
“We conclude that although the policies underlying the no contest provisions have been carefully balanced by the Legislature and the anti-SLAPP procedures may impede some of those goals, including increasing litigation costs and potential delay, no provision of the Probate Code has been shown to be inconsistent with the anti-SLAPP provisions. The language of the anti-SLAPP statute is clear and unambiguous, and it has been applied to other probate court petitions. (citation omitted.) There may be valid reasons to exempt enforcement of no contest clauses from the anti-SLAPP statute, but if so, it is for the Legislature to create an exception.”
The anti-SLAPP statute broadly protects the constitutional rights of petition and free speech. If the pleading at issue arises from protected free speech or petitioning activity, the opposing party must demonstrate the probability of prevailing on the merits in a summary-judgment-like procedure.
A “no contest clause” is a provision in an otherwise valid instrument that, if enforced, would penalize a beneficiary for filing a pleading in any court.
The party filing an anti-SLAPP motion is entitled to reasonable attorney fees for prevailing. The responding party is not entitled to attorney fees for prevailing, unless the court finds the motion to strike was frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay. An order granting or denying an anti-SLAPP motion is an appealable order.
Mr. Daymude consults with clients and accepts cases involving anti-SLAPP motions and probate petitions, including ones involving no contest clauses. For other types of cases accepted, please scroll the Home and My Practice pages. If you are seeking a legal consultation or representation, call Michael Daymude at 818-971-9409.