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Arent Fox Argues Before California Supreme Court in Peer Review and Anti-SLAPP Litigation

Los Angeles Partner Debra Albin-Riley recently argued before the California Supreme Court in a closely-watched case involving the scope of anti-SLAPP protection for medical staff peer review.
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The case has received widespread attention, including an article published in Law360.

California’s anti-SLAPP statute allows early dismissal of meritless lawsuits targeting protected speech and petitioning activity. Recent California Supreme Court decisions creating exceptions to anti-SLAPP protection for retaliation and discrimination cases have raised the question of whether peer review remains protected from meritless SLAPP suits.

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  • AF is representing Providence St. Joseph Health in its efforts to overturn an appellate ruling reinstating a retaliation lawsuit filed by a physician with privileges at two California hospitals.
  • The doctor alleged that the hospitals’ peer review bodies suspended and terminated his privileges in retaliation for patient safety complaints.
  • During oral argument, conducted virtually, Debra told the high court that peer review should be offered anti-SLAPP protection because it involves protected speech and petitioning, including mandatory reporting to the Medical Board of California.
  • If peer review bodies fear being subjected to meritless lawsuits for suspending dangerous, impaired, or negligent physicians as legally required, she argued, the health and safety of California citizens will be jeopardized. 

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