Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Page 1


C.A.: Citizenís Arrest Not Protected by Anti-SLAPP Law


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Making a citizenís arrest is not protected activity for the purpose of the anti-SLAPP law, this districtís Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.

The decision reverses a ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman, who granted Steven Hartunianís motion to strike the false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process and malicious prosecution suit filed against him by Paul Wang. Goodman relied on the anti-SLAPP law, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16.

The lawsuit arose from a dispute over a vacant lot. Hartunian signed a private personís arrest form, pursuant to which Wang was arrested and detained, after he claimed Wang violated restraining orders by standing at the disputed property line shouting at him.

Writing for Div. Five, Justice Orville A. Armstrong said Goodman erred.

The justice explained:

ďHartunian maintains that Wangís causes of action for false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process and malicious prosecution arise from Hartunianís act of petitioning local police to arrest Wang. However, the basis of Wangís complaint, and the evidence presented in support thereof, is that Hartunian arrested Wang pursuant to the provisions of Penal Code section 847; that is to say, he made a citizenís arrest. Our first task is thus to determine whether making a citizenís arrest was an act in furtherance of Hartunianís right of petition or free speech under the state or federal constitutions. If, and only if, we determine that the arrest was protected activity under the SLAPP statute need we consider whether Wang has established that his claims have any merit.Ē

Armstrong concluded that the citizenís arrest did not meet those criteria.

Citing the Court of Appealís decision this year in Drum v. Bleau, Fox & Associates, 107 Cal.App.4th 1009, which involved an attempt to levy on the judgment in an underlying litigation while a stay was in effect, the justice reasoned:

ďLike the levy in Drum...the line between communication and conduct was crossed when Hartunian arrested Wang and caused the police officers to take Wang into custody. Drum holds that the party requesting the wrongful levy is liable for the physical act of levy even though that party did not perform the physical act. So too, Hartunian is responsible for the physical act of restricting Wangís freedom of movement even though he personally never physically restrained Wang.Ē

Justice Richard M. Mosk and Presiding Justice Paul A. Turner concurred.

The case is Wang v. Hartunian, B160125.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company