Two lawyers represented a man injured in a vehicular collision in the underlying action. The defendant in that action was in the course and scope of his business and was insured. The plaintiff and defendant in the underlying action agreed to settle their dispute for policy limits of $100,000. The plaintiff in the current action is the workers’ compensation carrier for the underlying defendant’s employer, which carrier had filed a complaint in intervention in the underlying action, and when the underlying action settled, the workers’ compensation carrier’s remained unresolved. Thus, the underlying defendant’s car insurance carrier made the $100,000 settlement check out to the underlying plaintiff, the two lawyers and the workers’ compensation carrier. The lawyers and counsel for the work comp carrier entered into a stipulation stating “that the $100,000.00 settlement money . . . will be deposited into an interest bearing account” and that “[s]ignatures of both parties will be required to withdraw any money.” It was apparently understood that the funds would be placed in defendants’ client trust account. The settlement check was duly endorsed and deposited. The lawyers for the underlying plaintiff dismissed the complaint with prejudice, which meant there was no longer any pleading before the court seeking affirmative relief. The two lawyers disbursed the money. The work comp carrier’s request for relief from the Workers’ Compensation judge was denied, and the carrier thereafter filed the present action naming only the two lawyers as defendants, contending they breached the contract by disbursing the settlement funds without the signature of the workers’ compensation carrier and for making a false promise. The two lawyers filed a motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute [Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16], which the trial court denied. In affirming the trial court’s denial of the anti-SLAPP motion, the appellate court stated: “(1) in determining whether a cause of action arises from conduct protected by the anti-SLAPP law, the focus is on the wrongful, injurious acts or omissions identified in the complaint, and whether those acts or omissions come within the statute’s description of protected conduct; and (2) unless the wrongful conduct is communicative in character, it is protected by the statute only if it was undertaken in connection with an issue of public importance. Because the withdrawal of funds underlying the causes of action at issue was neither communicative nor related to an issue of public interest, the trial court properly denied a motion to dismiss those causes of action.” (Old Republic v. The Boccardo Law Firm (Cal. App. Sixth Dist.; October 21, 2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 859, [179 Cal.Rptr.3d 129].)
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