Bassi v. Bassi

November 30, -0001

In this case, during divorce proceedings, Robert asked for a DVRO against his wife, Susan, because she sent unwanted, harassing, and disturbing emails to Robert.  Robert’s business associates and customers were often copied on the emails resulting in harm to Robert’s business and life.  Susan attempted to dismiss the DVRO request early with an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing her emails were protected speech and litigation correspondence because she intended to file a lawsuit against Robert.  The trial court denied Susan’s anti-SLAPP motion; and the Court of Appeal affirmed.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16.)

This case has a few holdings that are quite important:  (1) Survivors don’t have to ask the person who is being abusive to stop the abuse before they can get a DVRO;  (2) Behavior that seems like a “mere annoyance” when it is considered in isolation may actually be abuse when the parties’ history is considered;  (3) Any type of abuse –such as unwanted contacts, harassment, or disturbing the peace–can be enough for a DVRO, even if only one form of abuse was used against the survivor;  (4) Abuse is abuse, even without threats or violence; (5) Curcio v. Pels, discussed in Section I(B)in , should be used in a very limited way, when trying to say conduct isn’t abuse;  (6) the anti-SLAPP law couldn’t prevent the DVRO request here because the few messages that involved litigation were sufficiently abusive, as a prima facie matter, so they were not covered by the law; and  (7) the litigation privilege (Civ. Code, § 47) couldn’t be used to prevent the DVRO request here because many of the emails were not lawsuit-related and were sufficiently abusive, as a prima facie matter.

Statutes used or affected: Fam. Code, §§ 6300, 6301, 6320; Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16; Civ. Code, § 47


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