Metabolic Research, Inc. v. Ferrell, No. 10-16209 (9th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The central issue on appeal in this case arose from an order that denied a pretrial special motion to dismiss under Nevada's anti-SLAPP statute (Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.635-670), and whether that order was appealable under the collateral order doctrine as established by Supreme Court precedent. In 2009, Defendant-Appellant attorney Scott Ferrell sent demand letters to Plaintiffs-Appellees Metabolic Research, Inc. (Metabolic), at its address in Las Vegas, Nevada, and to General Nutrition Centers, Inc. (GNC), at its address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The demand letters purported to notify the recipients that they had violated California law by falsely advertising the properties and potential benefits of "Stemulite," which they marketed as a natural fitness supplement. Defendant represented that he was acting on behalf of three individuals and a class of similarly situated people, all of whom he alleged purchased Stemulite in California, in reliance on the supposed false advertising, and had not received the purported benefits. In his letters, Defendant set out his allegations, and concluded them with offers to compromise and allow Plaintiffs time to agree to an injunction. If Plaintiffs did not accept his offer, Defendant stated he would file suit. Metabolic filed suit in Nevada against Defendant and his putative class action plaintiffs charging them with extortion, racketeering and conspiracy. Defendant removed the case to the federal district court in Nevada, then moved to dismiss Metabolic's case based on Nevada's anti-SLAPP statute. In its order dismissing Ferrell’s motion, the district court found that Ferrell had not established that the demand letter to Metabolic constituted a good-faith communication in furtherance of the right to petition because it concluded that Nevada’s anti-SLAPP legislation only protected communications made directly to a governmental agency and did not protect a demand letter sent to a potential defendant in litigation. Finding that the Nevada legislature did not intend for its anti-SLAPP law to function as an immunity from suit, Defendant's motion was not immediately appealable. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court's denial of Defendant's special motion was not made in error.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on June 18, 2012.