Roche v. HydeAnnotate this Case
In 2006, Ram’s Gate purchased a Sonoma County winery from the Roches. Ram’s Gate later sued the Roches for breach of contract, fraud, and negligent nondisclosure, claiming they withheld seismic information about the property and made misstatements concerning the ability to build on an existing building pad. Protracted litigation ultimately ended with Ram’s Gate dismissing the action, Roche paying nothing to Ram’s Gate, and Ram’s Gate paying most but not all of Roche’s attorney fees. Roche then brought a malicious prosecution suit against Ram’s Gate, two of its members, and their attorney, Hyde, alleging they withheld documents in discovery that would have proved they knew or should have known the seismic information they claimed was kept from them when they bought the property from Roche. The defendants filed unsuccessful special motions to strike the complaint as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (anti-SLAPP motions). The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the motion under Code Civ. Proc., 425.16(b)(1). A cause of action for malicious prosecution fits by definition into the scope of the anti-SLAPP statute but Roche is likely to succeed on the merits and is now entitled to proceed to trial.