ZL Technologies v. Glassdoor (California Court of Appeal for the First District)
An employer sued the authors of seven anonymous former employees who posted unfavorable reviews on the web site Glassdoor.com claiming that the reviews were defamatory. Glassdoor successfully resisted a motion to compel, and when the employer failed to provide evidence to support its claims after the initial motion to compel was denied, the entire lawsuit was dismissed for want of prosecution. The employer appealed. On behalf both Public Citizen and Twitter, we filed an amicus brief arguing that the Court of Appeal should not only follow the example of other states as well as the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District by requiring plaintiffs to produce evidence that speech is actionable, and not just allegations, before taking away the First Amendment right of anonymous speech, but also should go beyond the Sixth District approach by requiring an express balancing of the plaintiff’s and defendant’s interests. The Court of Appeal agreed with Public Citizen that most of the steps of the Dendrite / Cahill approach should be followed in California, but rejected the contention that a plaintiff that has sufficient evidence supporting the elements of its claims against the anonymous defendants should nevertheless be required to show that it should prevail at a final balancing stage.