An anti-SLAPP motion has been filed on behalf of the West Coast director of the Companion Animal Protection Society against the owner of the I Heart Puppies store in Corona del Mar, court records show.
Dave Simon, an attorney for CAPS, said the motion was filed last week under California's anti-SLAPP statue, and has the effect of not only dismissing the lawsuit but also of providing a mandatory attorneys' fees award.
Called a strategic lawsuit against public participation, SLAPP is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense. The anti-SLAPP statute allows a person to counter a SLAPP suit filed against them.
"Under California law, you can't unlawfully deny people the ability to express themselves and that's what the store owner is attempting to do with her lawsuit," Simon said.
"The judge did not agree with her position and he denied the restraining order," Simon said.
Bradford did not return calls or emails seeking comment for this story.
CAPS, a nonprofit group, has been conducting an investigation into the store since July 5 following complaints from residents and assertions that the store gets its puppies from commercial Midwest puppy mills. Since then, I Heart Puppies was temporarily closed while it complied with safety regulations and was the focus of a protest Sunday.
"My hope is that they will stop attempting to intimidate me and other dog lovers and that they will stop trying to silence us by abusing the court system," Davis said. "We weren’t breaking any laws and the court knows that and the court made it quite clear."