Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Monday, May 9, 2016

Marcy Winograd wins appeal in freedom of speech case in Santa Monica, California - Animal Advocates

Marcy Winograd wins appeal in Freedom of Speech lawsuit, Tawni Angel, Tawnis Ponies and Petting Zoo, pony rides, animal cruelty, los angeles, california, b261707, sc123378, Donald Chomiak, Jason Nestor,  
UPDATE: Tawni Angel filed petition to rehear and was denied May 19, 2016. Marcy Winograd filed motion to publish the opinion.

Santa Monica animal activist Marcy Winograd just won her appeal in an animal cruelty freedom of speech case. Marcy Winograd had filed reports against Tawni Angel and her company Tawnis Ponies and Petting Zoo. Winograd stated that Tawni Angel's ponies were not receiving proper care. Winograd started a campaign asking the city to not renew Tawni Angel's lease at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The City of Santa Monica did indeed end the lease and the pony rides.

Marcy Winograd should have easily won this case after filing an anti-SLAPP motion in Santa Monica court. Judge Lisa Hart-Cole dismissed the other defendant from the case and other causes of action yet allowed two causes to remain i.e., libel per se and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. 

In review Justice Sanjay Kumar who wrote the opinion stated that Winograd's statements were protected by legislative privilege. Winograd made these statements while petitioning the city to end the pony rides on city property. The statements were therefore not defamatory. 

This case once again shows that you cannot silence freedom of speech with defamation lawsuits. People are allowed to report others to authorities. People are allowed to petition against businesses they feel are cruel to animals. Let this case be a lesson to others who are thinking of suing someone for defamation for merely exercising their freedom of speech. 

Animal Advocates has written previous articles about this case and the pony rides. 

Animal Advocates supports petition to end the pony rides

More information about Tawnis Pony Rides

Marcy Winograd files appeal in anti-SLAPP case




TAWNI J. ANGEL et al.,

            Plaintiffs and Respondents,



            Defendant and Appellant.


      (Los Angeles County
      Super. Ct. No. SC123378)

            APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Lisa Hart-Cole,Judge.  Reversed.
            Horvitz& Levy, Jeremy B. Rosen, and Felix Shafir, for Defendant and Appellant.
            TalismanLaw, and Donald E. Chomiak, for Plaintiffs and Appellants.

            Plaintiffs and respondents Tawni Angel, Jason Nestor, and Tawnis Ponies and Petting Farm, Inc. operated a pony ride and petty zoo at the Main Street Farmers’ Market in Santa Monica.  Defendant and appellant Marcy Winograd opposed “animal attractions” and initiated a campaign to cause the City of Santa Monica to end plaintiffs’ participation at the farmers’ market.  The campaign accused plaintiffs of animal cruelty in violation of the Penal Code and included protests at the farmers’ market, emails to City of Santa Monica officials, and articles posted on local media websites.  The City of Santa Monica investigated defendant’s claims and found no evidence of animal cruelty.  Defendant nevertheless continued her campaign.  The Santa Monica City Council ultimately voted to explore activities to replace the pony ride and petting zoo at the expiration of the city’s contract with Tawnis Ponies andPetting Farm, Inc.
            Claiming defendant’s statements about animal cruelty and other statements defendant made about them were false, plaintiffs brought an action against defendant asserting causes of action for libel per se, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and injunctive relief.  Defendant moved to strike plaintiffs’ complaint under the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute—Codeof Civil Procedure section 425.16.  The trial court granted the motion as to the intentional infliction of emotional distress and injunctive relief causes of action and denied it as to the libel per se and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage causes of action.  Defendant appeals.  Because defendant’s statements were privileged under the legislative privilege in Civil Code section 47,subdivision (b) (section 47(b)), we reverse the order denying defendant’s motion to strike the libel per se and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage causes of action.

Link to released opinion in pdf.

Link to appeal summary

Below is one of the amicus briefs by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Animal Legal Defense Fund also wrote an amicus brief.

Marcy Winograd's "Free The Pony" website.

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

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