California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division
APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County No. RIC1204151 Daniel A. Ottolia, Judge.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Paul Hupp, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.
Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, James E. Grossberg and Ashley I. Kissinger for Defendant and Respondent.
RAMIREZ, P. J.
On March 22, 2012, plaintiff Paul Hupp filed a complaint against Freedom Communications Inc., doing business as The Orange
County Register (the Register), alleging that it breached its user agreement with Hupp by failing to remove comments made on their website concerning Hupp.
The Register responded by filing a special motion to strike (anti-SLAPP) motion under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. After hearing, the trial court granted the motion to strike Hupp’s complaint.
Hupp appeals. He contends that the action is a garden variety breach of contract action which is not subject to an anti-SLAPP motion. He also argues that there are numerous defects in the service of various court documents in connection with the motion.
On March 12, 2012, the Register published on its website an article concerning public safety pensions in Orange County. Many readers, including Hupp, filed comments on the article. Many of the postings were between Hupp and defendant Mike Bishop. The Register alleges that Hupp complained to the author of the pension article about five postings by Bishop and demanded that they be removed from the website.
In his complaint, Hupp contends that the Register violated its user agreement “by making public comments and not removing said comment about Plaintiff that includes but is not limited to; invading the privacy of Plaintiff, harassed Plaintiff, was harmful to Plaintiff.” Accordingly, Hupp seeks breach of contract damages from the Register.
The Register included a copy of the User Agreement in its appendix. The User Agreement provides: “The bulletin boards, chat rooms, community calendars, and other interactive areas of the Service are provided to users as interesting and stimulating forums to express their opinions and share ideas and information. We expect people to differ—judgment and opinion are subjective—and we encourage free speech and the exchange of ideas. But, by using these areas of the Service, you are participating in a community that is intended for all of our users. [¶] Therefore, we reserve the right, but undertake no duty, to review, edit, move, or delete any User Content provided for display or placed on the Service, at our sole and absolute discretion, without notice to the person who submitted such User Content.”
As noted above, the Register filed an anti-SLAPP motion under section 425.16, subdivision (b)(1) ...