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Baldwin v. Seida

Court of Appeals of Oregon

April 17, 2019

Russell L. BALDWIN, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Suzanne SEIDA, et al., Defendants, and David BOWSER and Jordan Ramis P. C., Defendants-Appellants.

          Argued and submitted December 3, 2018

          Washington County Circuit Court 17CV31416;Beth L. Roberts, Judge.

          Bradley F. Piscadlo argued the cause for appellants. Also on the briefs were Martha J. Hodgkinson and Hodgkinson Street Mepham, LLC.

          Russell L. Baldwin argued the cause and fled the briefs pro se.

          Before Lagesen, Presiding Judge, and DeVore, Judge, and James, Judge.

         Case Summary: Plaintiff brought claims against defendants in response to defendants' writs of garnishment issued to local banks, plaintiff's clients, and his legal assistant. Defendants appeal from a limited judgment denying defendants' special motions to strike plaintiff's claims pursuant to ORS 31.150, Oregon's anti-SLAPP statute. Defendants argue that the trial court erred because the writs of garnishment are either statements "submitted in a judicial proceeding" under ORS 31.150(2)(a) or submitted "in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a judicial body" under ORS 31.150(2)(b). Held: The trial court did not err. The writs of garnishment, which defendants directed at the banks, plaintiff's clients, and his legal assistant, were not submitted in a court proceeding or submitted in a proceeding initiated to procure an order or decree. Rather, the writs were submitted to nonparties to elicit their consideration and action.

         [297 Or.App. 68] DeVORE, J.

         Plaintiff brought claims against defendants in response to defendants' writs of garnishment issued to local banks, plaintiff's clients, and his legal assistant. Defendants appeal from a limited judgment denying defendants' special motions to strike those claims pursuant to ORS 31.150, Oregon's anti-SLAPP statute.[1] Defendants argue that the trial court erred because the writs of garnishment are either statements "submitted in a judicial proceeding" under ORS 31.150(2)(a) or submitted "in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a judicial body" under ORS 31.150(2)(b). We disagree and affirm the limited judgment.[2]

         Because its terms are critical, we begin with a description of the anti-SLAPP statute. The purpose of ORS 31.150 is to "'permit a defendant who is sued over certain actions taken in the public arena to have a questionable case dismissed at an early stage.'" Mullen v. Meredith Corp., 271 Or.App. 698, 700, 353 P.3d 598 (2015) (quoting Staten v. Steel, 222 Or.App. 17, 27, 191 P.3d 778 (2008), rev den, 345 Or. 618 (2009)). That statute provides, in material part:

"(1) A defendant may make a special motion to strike against a claim in a civil action described in subsection (2) of this section. The court shall grant the motion unless the plaintiff establishes in the manner provided by subsection (3) of this section that there is a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim. * * * If the court denies a special motion to strike, the court shall enter a limited judgment denying the motion.
"(2) A special motion to strike may be made under this section against any claim in a civil action that arises out of:
"(a) Any oral statement made, or written statement or other document submitted, in a legislative, executive or judicial proceeding or other proceeding authorized by law;
"(b) Any oral statement made, or written statement or other document submitted, in connection with an issue [297 Or.App. 69] under consideration or review by a legislative, executive or judicial body or other proceeding authorized by law;
"(c) Any oral statement made, or written statement or other document presented, in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an ...

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