Corecivic, Inc. v. Candide Group, LLC

FOR PUBLICATION UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT CORECIVIC, INC., No. 20-17285 Plaintiff-Appellant, D.C. No. v. 3:20-cv-03792- WHA CANDIDE GROUP, LLC; MORGAN SIMON, Defendants-Appellees. OPINION Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California William Alsup, District Judge, Presiding Argued and Submitted June 14, 2022 San Francisco, California Filed August 30, 2022 Before: Sidney R. Thomas, Ronald M. Gould, and Carlos T. Bea, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge S.R. Thomas; Dissent by Judge Bea 2 CORECIVIC V. CANDIDE GROUP SUMMARY* California’s Anti-SLAPP Statute The panel held that the special motion provision of California’s anti-SLAPP statute applied in federal court, and affirmed in part the district court’s order granting Candide Group, LLC’s motion to strike a defamation complaint brought by CoreCivic, Inc., under California’s anti-SLAPP statute. At issue were several statements in articles published by Morgan Simon on that connected CoreCivic to the detention of separated families at the U.S. border and characterized its lobbying efforts as pushing for punitive criminal and immigration laws. Simon’s firm is Candide Group. CoreCivic filed suit against Simon and Candide Group (collectively “Candide”) for defamation and defamation by implication. Candide made a special motion to strike CoreCivic’s complaint under California’s anti- SLAPP Act, Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16. CoreCivic argued on appeal that the special motion to strike provision cannot be applied in federal court because it conflicts with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8, 12, and 56. Recognizing that this argument is foreclosed by this court’s precedents, CoreCivic further argued that this precedent should be revisited due to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates, P.A. v. Allstate Insurance Co., 559 U.S. 393 (2010). * This summary constitutes no part of the opinion of the court. It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader. CORECIVIC V. CANDIDE GROUP 3 The panel held that the court’s prior precedents control. In United States ex rel. v. Lockheed Missiles & Space Co., the court held that California’s anti-SLAPP statute applied in federal diversity actions because there was “no ‘direct collision’” between the statute and the relevant rules, and the twin purposes of Erie favored its application. 190 F.3d 963, 972–73 (9th Cir. 1999). In Planned Parenthood Fed’n of Am., Inc. v. Ctr. For Med. Progress, 890 F.3d 828, 833 (9th Cir. 2018), the court held that special motions to strike challenging the legal sufficiency of complaints should be evaluated under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A three-judge panel may overrule the decision of a prior panel only where an “intervening higher authority” is “clearly irreconcilable” with the reasoning of that decision. Miller v. Gammie, 335 F.3d 889, 900 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc). The panel held that Shady Grove was not “intervening” authority because since it was decided, the court has routinely applied the California anti-SLAPP statute in federal court. The panel further held that Shady Grove was not clearly irreconcilable with circuit law. Even if it qualified as “intervening authority,” …

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