Mouktabis v. Clackamas County

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: First Amendment
  • Date Filed: 09-07-2023
  • Case #: A177553
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Pagan, J., for the court; Shorr, P.J.; & Mooney, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

ORS 31.150 provides a mechanism for a defendant to move to strike certain nonmeritorious claims predicated on speech and petitioning activity potentially entitled to constitutional protection.” Tokarski v. Wildfang, 313 Or App 19, 21, 496 P3d 22, rev den, 368 Or 788 (2021). Accordingly, reports to the police about whether court orders are being violated  are "matters of public interest" under ORS 31.150(2)(d) because they implicate public safety and effective governance. 

Plaintiff appeals from the trial court's grant of defendant's motion to strike and from the limited judgment against plaintiff awarding attorney's fees and costs. Pplaintiff filed claims against M. A. ("defendant"), defendant's attorney, Clackamas County, the Oregon City Police Department ("OCPD"), and the West Linn Police Department ("WLPD"), for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and abuse of process, after plaintiff was acquitted on a contempt charge from M. A.’s report that he violated a restraining order. Defendant filed a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute claiming "protected activity." ORS 31.150(2)(d). If the court determines a claim falls within one of the four categories under ORS 31.150(2), “the burden shifts to the plaintiff in the action to establish that there is a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim by presenting substantial evidence to support a prima facie case.” ORS 31.150(3). “[T]he plaintiff must submit sufficient evidence from which a reasonable trier of fact could find that the plaintiff met its burden of production.” Handy v. Lane County, 360 Or 605, 622-23, 385 P3d 1016 (2016). If the plaintiff does so, then the trial court must deny the special motion to strike. “A defendant who prevails on a special motion to strike made under ORS 31.150 shall be awarded reasonable attorney fees and costs.” ORS 31.152(3). ORS 31.150(2)(d), protects “conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest. The Court held that defendant's reports to the police about whether court orders are being violated are "matters of public interest" under ORS 31.150(2)(d), reasoning that the reports were related to a perceived FAPA violation. Further, preventing acts of family violence implicate public safety and effective governance of court orders. The Court also held that the evidence was insufficient for plaintiff to make a prima facie case that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest plaintiff. Lastly, supplemental money judgments vacated and remanded. Otherwise affirmed.

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