California Supreme Court Watch

Nov 20, 2019
Doe v. Olson, S258498.

#19-183 Doe v. Olson, S258498. (B286105; nonpublished opinion; Los Angeles County Superior Court; SC126806.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed and reversed orders in a civil action. This case presents the following issues: (1) Does the litigation privilege of Civil Code section 47, subdivision (b), apply to contract claims, and if so, under what circumstances? (2) Does an agreement following mediation between the parties in an action for a temporary restraining order, in which they agree not to disparage each other, bar a later unlimited civil lawsuit arising from the same alleged sexual violence?

Review granted: 11/20/2019

Opinion filed: Judgment reversed: 1/13/2022

See the California Court of Appeal Opinion.

See the Petition for Review.

See the California Supreme Court Opinion.  (Olson v. Doe (2022) 12 Cal.5th 669.)

“The question here is whether the nondisparagement clause in the parties’ mediation agreement potentially applies to and thereby limits Doe’s ability to bring a subsequent unlimited civil lawsuit against Olson seeking damages. Doe later filed such a lawsuit; Olson cross-complained for breach of contract and specific performance, arguing that Doe’s suit violated the nondisparagement clause; and Doe moved to strike Olson’s cross-complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute. We hold that the mediation agreement as a whole and the specific context in which it was reached — a section 527.6 proceeding — preclude Olson’s broad reading of the nondisparagement clause. Accordingly, Olson has failed to show the requisite ‘minimal merit’ on a critical element of his breach of contract claim — Doe’s obligation under the agreement to refrain from making disparaging statements in litigation — and thus cannot defeat Doe’s anti-SLAPP motion. (Navellier v. Sletten (2002) 29 Cal.4th 82, 94 (Navellier).)”

Justice Liu authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justices Corrigan, Kruger, Groban, Jenkins, and Moor concurred.