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Fri, 15 Oct 2021

Billy Mitchell Survives Anti-SLAPP Motion From Twin Galaxies A Second Time

Furnished content.

The Billy Mitchell and Twin Galaxies saga rolls on, it seems. Mitchell has made it onto our pages several times in the past, most recently over a lawsuit filed against gaming record keepers Twin Galaxies over its decision to un-award his high score record for Donkey Kong on allegations he achieved it on an emulator instead of an official cabinet. The suit is for defamation and Twin Galaxies initially tried to get the case tossed on anti-SLAPP grounds, but the court denied that request under the notion that Mitchell only has to show "minimal merit" in the overall case to defeat the anti-SLAPP motion.And now, on appeal, California's Second Appellate court has affirmed that ruling, again on "minimal merit" grounds. You can read the entire ruling embedded below, though I warn you that there are many pages dedicated to the back and forth between Mitchell and Twin Galaxies over a video game record, so you may come away with sore eyebrows from rolling your eyes so hard at all of this. There is also a metric ton of context as to how the court is supposed to apply the anti-SLAPP statute. Go nerd out if you like, but the whole ruling boils down to this:

The parties agree, as do we, that Mitchell’s claims for defamation and false light arise from protected activity and meet the first prong of the anti-SLAPP analysis. We therefore focus on the second prong: whether Mitchell has shown a probability of prevailing on his claims. Twin Galaxies contends Mitchell has not provided sufficient evidence to show the challenged statement was false or it made the statement with actual malice. We are compelled by the standard of review, however, to conclude Mitchell has demonstrated the requisite “minimal merit” to his claims to defeat Twin Galaxies’ anti-SLAPP motion.
It's incredibly important in a case like this to keep that standard in mind. And, though some folks, including some at Techdirt, don't necessarily agree with me, I think I agree with the court's ruling on this. Given the minimal merit standard, it seems the court is simply reluctant to not let this proceed to trial.And, as I stated in the last post, to discovery. And it's going to be in discovery where all of this gets far more interesting. Because at trial, there will be no minimal merit standard for the claim of defamation. Instead, Mitchell is going to have to prove two things: that the accusation of cheating is false and that Twin Galaxies made that claim not out of error, but out of "actual malice".And that is going to be an extremely tall hurdle over which Mitchell needs to jump.

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posted at: 12:00am on 15-Oct-2021
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