So if you’re in a California custody dispute and you really don’t like the guy or gal on the other side, and you have a computer and you want to say really mean things about the other guy or gal, it appears it’s okay to do so.  That’s because the California Appellate Courts recently delivered a decision in the case of Chaker v. Mateo, which said that Internet postings that offer negative, insulting opinions about a father in a custody dispute are protected speech and are non-actionable.

The facts of the case go something like this.  This guy named Darren Chaker had a brief foody call with this woman named Nicole Mateo.  And then Nicole got knocked up and delivered Darren’s child.  Nicole and Darren then became engaged in a heated paternity and child support dispute.

In 2010, a series of derogatory statements were made about Darren and his forensics business, and they were posted on an Internet Web site where members of the public were allowed to comment on the reliability and honesty of various providers of goods and services.  And there, Darren took a beating.

He was characterized as a bad person to fear because “he is a criminal and a deadbeat dad.”  Darren was further maligned to have taken steroids and using people along with a host of other “illegal activities.”  Not surprisingly, Darren came back and attributed the statements, along with others that accused him of fraud, deceit and picking up streetwalkers and homeless drug addicts, to his new daughter’s mother, Nicole.

Darren filed a complaint with a single cause of action:  defamation.  The trial court then granted Wendy’s motion to strike the complaint under the Anti-SLAPP Law (CCP § 425.16), and the 4th appellate court affirmed.  Darren, for all intents and purposes, was SOL.

The moral to the story, apparently, is probably not to badly upset someone you’ve just had a brief fling with and impregnated and then had a contentious paternity and child support battle with.  Hope you learned your lesson cuz the 4th appellate court, Darren, and Nicole sure taught me mine.

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