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Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, Inc. v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20211
Nos. Nos. A107538, A108292, (Cal. App. 1st Dist., 10/12/2006)

A court held that a biomedical company may go forward with its suit for injunctive relief to stop terrifying acts allegedly committed by members of an animal rights group who targeted the company's employees as part of an effort to expose animal abuse in biomedical labs. The group argued that the company's complaint arises from speech about matters of the public interest--a protected activity under the anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation statute. But the gravamen of the company's complaint is not speech, but the acts of harassment, infliction of emotional distress, intrusion, and trespass that occurred during "home visits" perpetrated by certain unnamed individuals. Moreover, there is ample evidence that the group conspired with the individuals to commit these wrongful acts, and the company met its burden of showing a probability of prevailing on its claims. The lower court, therefore, properly dismissed the group's motion to strike the company's suit.