California’s anti-SLAPP statute has generated another published case for trust and estate lawyers to ponder. Last week, in Urick v. Urick (2017) 15 Cal.App.5th 1182, the California Court of Appeal confirmed that anti-SLAPP motions can be used to attack petitions to enforce no contest clauses.
The opinion reminds California trust and estate counsel to be cautious when using petitions to attack the court filings of other parties. At the same time, the opinion demonstrates that a well-conceived attack on an adversary’s filing ultimately should not fall to an anti-SLAPP motion, even if it takes an appellate court to set things right.
SLAPP is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.” To discourage and weed out such suits, the Legislature created a special procedure to challenge them. Last year we wrote about the use of anti-SLAPP motions as a defensive tool in trust and estate litigation. We discussed the use of such motions to challenge efforts to enforce no contest clauses, using an unpublished appellate case as an example. With Urick, we now have published authority in California for guidance.