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VIP Pet Grooming Studio v. Sproule

A pet grooming company sued a consumer and his wife for defamation over a negative review that the consumer posted about the company after the his dog had to be put to sleep for problems that developed during a grooming visit. The defendants moved to dismiss under New York’s newly strengthened anti-SLAPP law, but the state trial court denied the motion on the ground that a consumer review warning against using a local business is not speech about an issue of public interest.

On appeal, we represented the defendants, arguing primarily that consumer reviews of this sort inherently address issues of public interest and hence come within the protection of the anti-SLAPP law, and that the statutory amendments apply to cases pending on the date the new version of the law became effective. The court, however, in a decision issued in January 2024, held that the law does not apply to cases filed before the effective date of the statute.