University of South Florida Board of Trustees v. United States

BioCorRx, Inc. v. VDM Biochemicals, Inc.

The Legislature enacted Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, commonly known as the anti-SLAPP statute, to prevent powerful plaintiffs from chilling a defendant’s valid exercise of free speech rights.1 But the Legislature later observed that commercial defendants were abusing “the anti-SLAPP statute by claiming their advertising impacted the public interest.” (Metcalf v. U-Haul International, Inc. (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 1261, 1267.) To combat this abuse, the Legislature enacted the commercial speech exemption, found in section 425.17, subdivision (c). When this exemption applies, the challenged speech or conduct is not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute. (Metcalf, at p. 1265.) 

Here, BioCorRx, Inc. (BioCorRx) is a publicly traded company that is primarily engaged in the business of providing addiction treatment services and related medication. It issued several press releases that allegedly made misrepresentations and improperly disclosed confidential information about a treatment it was developing for opioid overdose. We find these statements fall within the commercial speech exemption because they were representations about BioCorRx’s business operations that were made to investors to promote its goods and services through the sale of its securities.2 Since these statements are not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute, we reverse the part of the trial court’s order granting the anti-SLAPP motion as to the press releases. We affirm the unchallenged portion of the order striking unrelated allegations. We also affirm the order granting the anti-SLAPP motion as to Brady Granier, BioCorRx’s president and director.

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