Yes on 24-367 Committee v. Deaton

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 02-03-2016
  • Case #: A158181
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett, J. For the Court; Lagesen, P.J.; Schuman, S.J.

In the defamation context, a statement expresses an opinion if it cannot reasonably be interpreted as stating actual facts.

Plaintiff is a political committee that was organized to support the passage of a local ballot measure in Marion County in the May 2014 election. Defendants Deaton, Stormo, and Grant are individuals who placed a statement opposing the measure in the Marion County Voter Pamphlet. Before the election, Plaintiff brought suit, alleging Defendants violated the law by knowingly or recklessly making a false statement of material fact in their voters’ pamphlet statement. Defendants moved to strike the complaint under Oregon’s “anti-SLAPP” statute, which permits “a defendant who is sued over certain actions taken in the public arena to have a questionable case dismissed at an early stage.” ORS 260.532 applies to statements of “fact” but does not define that term, nor does it define “opinion.” The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the case. Plaintiff appealed. The Court concluded that the trial court erroneously characterized Defendants’ statement as opinion rather than as an assertion of fact, and also concluded that the trial court erred in applying the legal standard relevant to an anti-SLAPP motion. Reversed and remanded.

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