315 West 103 Enterprises v. Robbins

A company that owns an apartment building in Manhattan brought defamation suit against a neighbor of the building claiming that he defamed it in calls to 311, a New York City hotline, in which he objected to construction work on the building in violation of stop work orders imposed under building permits.  The neighbor moved to dismiss the action under New York’s anti-SLAPP law, claiming that he had a sound basis for his complaints and that the suit was a baseless SLAPP suit, seeking as well an award for attorney fees and damages.  The company was allowed to drop its suit without paying attorney fees, apparently on the ground that the neighbor had to file a counterclaim to preserve his rights under the anti-SLAPP law.  Public Citizen took the case on appeal, arguing that a motion for fees is enough, and that dropping the suit after a motion to dismiss is filed is not a good basis for denying fees under the anti-SLAPP law.  The Appellate Division affirmed, and a petition to appeal the New York Court of Appeals was denied.