DIRECTV Granted Anti-SLAPP Motion in California Court

In the early 2000s, DIRECTV sent demand letters to thousands of people who purchased certain devices that can pirate DIRECTV’s television programming, requesting the recipients cease using the devices. An attorney searched internet sites promoting satellite television piracy to find a class of plaintiffs who were recipients of DIRECTV’s demand letters.

The uncertified class sued DIRECTV, alleging that the conduct of mailing the demand letters was an unfair business practice under California law, a violation of plaintiffs’ civil rights, and extortion. DIRECTV brought a motion to strike under the California anti-SLAPP law, which the trial court granted. On appeal, plaintiffs argued that their suit should be outside the scope of the anti-SLAPP law because it was brought in the public interest.

The court found that the suit was brought entirely for plaintiffs’ own gain, with little or no impact on the public, and that in any event, DIRECTV’s demand letters were pre-litigation statements protected by the California litigation privilege, and therefore not subject to civil liability. It affirmed the grant of the anti-SLAPP motion and allowed DIRECTV to recover attorney’s fees incurred in litigating the SLAPP. 

See Blanchard v. DIRECTV, Inc., 123 Cal.App.4th 903 (2004).