This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/13/2019 at 00:21:05 (UTC).

JUSTIN C JONES VS ROBERT KARDASHIAN ET AL

Case Summary

On 10/02/2017 JUSTIN C JONES filed a Personal Injury - Assault/Battery/Defamation lawsuit against ROBERT KARDASHIAN. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is GAIL FEUER. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****8014

  • Filing Date:

    10/02/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Assault/Battery/Defamation

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

GAIL FEUER

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

JONES JUSTIN C.

Defendants and Respondents

BLACK CHYNA

DOES 1 TO 100

WHITE ANGELA RENEE

KARDASHIAN ROBERT

WHITE ANGELA RENEE AKA BLAC CHYNA

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

MOBLEY FELICIA A. ESQ.

MOBLEY FELICIA A.

Defendant Attorney

HOLLEY SHAWN CHAPMAN

 

Court Documents

Minute Order

3/20/2018: Minute Order

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT; ETC.

6/13/2018: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT; ETC.

Minute Order

6/15/2018: Minute Order

NOTICE OF CASE REASSIGNMENT AND OF ORDER FOR PLAINTIFF TO GIVE NOTICE

7/3/2018: NOTICE OF CASE REASSIGNMENT AND OF ORDER FOR PLAINTIFF TO GIVE NOTICE

REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

8/24/2018: REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO PLAINTIFF'S EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF HIS OPPOSITION TO ROBERT KARDASHIAN'S MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

8/27/2018: EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO PLAINTIFF'S EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF HIS OPPOSITION TO ROBERT KARDASHIAN'S MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

8/31/2018: ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

RULING RE: SPECIALLY APPEARING DEFENDANT ROBERT KARDASHIAN'S MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS.

8/31/2018: RULING RE: SPECIALLY APPEARING DEFENDANT ROBERT KARDASHIAN'S MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS.

Minute Order

8/31/2018: Minute Order

PROOF OF SERVICE RE: 1) [PROPOSED] ORDER RE: EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO PLAINTIFF'S EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF HIS OPPOSITION TO ROBERT KARDASHIAN'S MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT; ETC.

9/4/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE RE: 1) [PROPOSED] ORDER RE: EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO PLAINTIFF'S EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF HIS OPPOSITION TO ROBERT KARDASHIAN'S MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT; ETC.

Minute Order

11/2/2018: Minute Order

Minute Order

3/7/2019: Minute Order

Minute Order

5/30/2019: Minute Order

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

1/18/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

Minute Order

1/30/2018: Minute Order

NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

10/23/2017: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

SUMMONS

10/2/2017: SUMMONS

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. DEFAMATION; ETC

10/2/2017: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. DEFAMATION; ETC

10 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/30/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 78; Order to Show Cause Re: (Entry of Default as to Angela Renee White) - Held - Continued

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  • 05/30/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 78; Case Management Conference - Held - Continued

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  • 05/30/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Case Management Conference; Order to Show Cause Re: Entry of ...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/07/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 78; Order to Show Cause Re: (Entry of Default as to Angela Renee White) - Held - Continued

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/07/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 78; Case Management Conference - Held - Continued

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/07/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Case Management Conference; Order to Show Cause Re: Entry of ...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/27/2019
  • Proof of Personal Service; Filed by Justin C. Jones (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/02/2018
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 78; Case Management Conference - Held - Continued

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  • 11/02/2018
  • Minute Order ((Case Management Conference; Order to Show Cause Re: Entry of ...)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/04/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE RE: 1) [PROPOSED] ORDER RE: EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO PLAINTIFF'S EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF HIS OPPOSITION TO ROBERT KARDASHIAN'S MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT; ETC.

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28 More Docket Entries
  • 01/30/2018
  • Minute order entered: 2018-01-30 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/18/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/18/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/18/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/18/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/23/2017
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/23/2017
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 10/02/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Justin C. Jones (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/02/2017
  • SUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/02/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. DEFAMATION; ETC

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC678014    Hearing Date: February 04, 2020    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

JUSTIN C. JONES,

Plaintiffs,

v.

ROBERT KARDASHIAN, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC678014

Hearing Date: February 4, 2020

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

DEFENDANT ROBERT KARDASHIAN’S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS

Defendant Robert Kardashian’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs is CONTINUED. Kardashian to file with the Court supplemental documentation regarding billing records and comparable billing rates.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is an action for Defamation, Public Disclosure of Private Facts, Cyberbullying in Violation of Penal Code §653.2, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. The Complaint alleges as follows:

Plaintiff Justin Jones (“Jones”) was friends with Defendant Angela Renee White aka Blac Chyna (“Chyna”), a public personality. (Complaint ¶ 6.)There exists a picture of Jones and Chyna kissing one another on the lips. (Complaint ¶ 7.) In October 2016, this kissing photo was released to an online entertainment publication. (Complaint ¶ 8.) Other sites released the photo with false headlines indicating that Jones and Chyna were in a sexual relationship. (Complaint ¶ 15.) Although Jones did not release the photo, Chyna and Defendant Robert Kardashian (“Kardashian”) believed he did, and so conspired to create a campaign of cyberbullying against Jones by sending threatening texts and releasing Jones’s private phone number and email address to the public. (Complaint ¶¶ 18, 21.) Chyna also released private information about Jones’s sexual orientation. (Complaint ¶ 19.) As a result of the release of Jones’s contact information, he received insulting and threatening messages from the public. (Complaint ¶ 23.) Jones eventually attempted suicide, though he was unsuccessful. (Complaint ¶ 26.)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Jones filed the Complaint on October 2, 2017, alleging four causes of action:

  1. Defamation (Against Chyna only)

  2. Public Disclosure of Private Facts

  3. Cyberbullying in Violation of Penal Code § 653.2

  4. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

On September 25, 2019, this Court granted in part each of the Special Motions to Strike filed by Chyna and Kardashian against the Complaint. The Court granted Chyna’s Motion to Strike as to the First Cause of Action, and granted the motion as to the Second, Third, and Fourth Causes of Action except that the Motion was denied to the extent the causes of action were based on the social media statements disclosing Jones’ private contact information. The Court granted Kardashian’s Motion to Strike as to the Second and Third Causes of Action, and granted as to the Fourth Cause of Action except to the extent it was based on the group text messages.

Kardashian filed the instant Motion for Attorneys’ Fees on October 23, 2019.

Jones filed an Opposition on January 22, 2020.

Kardashian filed a Reply on January 28, 2020.

DISCUSSION

  1. MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES

Code Civ. Proc. section 425.16, subd. (c)(1) states that “a prevailing defendant on a special motion to strike shall be entitled to recover his or her attorney's fees and costs.” “The party prevailing on a special motion to strike may seek an attorney fee award through three different avenues: simultaneously with litigating the special motion to strike; by a subsequent noticed motion, . . . or as part of a cost memorandum.” (Carpenter v. Jack In The Box Corp. (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 454, 461.)

“It is well established that the determination of what constitutes reasonable attorney fees is committed to the discretion of the trial court, whose decision cannot be reversed in the absence of an abuse of discretion.” (Melnyk v. Robledo (1976) 64 Cal.App.3d 618, 623.) In exercising its discretion, the court should consider a number of factors, including the nature of the litigation, its difficulty, the amount involved, the skill required in handling the matter, the attention given, the success or failure, and the resulting judgment. (See id.)

In determining the proper amount of fees to award, courts use the lodestar method. The lodestar figure is calculated by multiplying the total number of reasonable hours expended by the reasonable hourly rate. “Fundamental to its determination . . . [is] a careful compilation of the time spent and reasonable hourly compensation of each attorney . . . in the presentation of the case.” (Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 48 (Serrano III).) A reasonable hourly rate must reflect the skill and experience of the attorney. (Id. at p. 49.) “Prevailing parties are compensated for hours reasonably spent on fee-related issues. A fee request that appears unreasonably inflated is a special circumstance permitting the trial court to reduce the award or deny one altogether.” (Serrano v. Unruh (1982) 32 Cal.3d 621, 635 (Serrano IV).) The Court in Serrano IV also stated that fees associated with preparing the motion to recover attorneys’ fees are recoverable. (See id. at p. 624.)

The court is mindful that, in assessing fees appropriate to a prevailing party on an anti-SLAPP motion, “[t]he defendant may recover fees and costs only for the motion to strike, not the entire litigation.” (Christian Research Institute v. Alnor (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 1315, 1320.) “[A] party who partially prevails on an anti-SLAPP motion must generally be considered a prevailing party unless the results of the motion were so insignificant that the party did not achieve any practical benefit from bringing the motion. The determination whether a party prevailed on an anti-SLAPP motion lies within the broad discretion of [the] trial court.’” (City of Colton v. Singletary (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 751, 782 citing Lin v. City of Pleasanton (2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 408, 425–426.)

Kardashian here seeks $60,145.88 in attorneys’ fees under Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16. (Motion at p. 2.) This represents 34.9 hour of attorney work at $725/hr, 2.5 hours of attorney work at $1,200/hr, 43.1 hours of attorney work at $500/hr, and 13.1 hours of attorney work at $325/hr, for a total of 93.6 hours. (Eagan Decl. ¶ 5.) Kardashian’s attorney declares that these attorney rates are comparable to other peer law firms, however, Kardashian does not provide the court with representative rates from the purportedly comparable firms for the Court to assess. (Eagan Decl. ¶ 11.) Kardashian has also failed to provide the Court with copies of the billing statements and descriptions of work performed by each attorney, so that the Court may determine that the billing items are attributable solely to the anti-SLAPP motion.

In Opposition, Jones argues that Kardashian is only entitled to a reduced fee award due to partially prevailing and due to failing to produce billing records. (Oppo. at pp. 4-6.) Further, Jones contends that the number of hours and billing rates claimed are excessive and suggests that a flat $325 per hour rate be applied to all attorneys. (Oppo. at pp. 6-8.)

While billing statements are not required, some description of the billing activities, such as a description declared under penalty of perjury in a declaration, is needed as a substitute. (City of Colton, supra, 206 Cal.App.4th at 786.) In Maughan v. Google (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 1242, 1248, the court of appeal upheld a trial court’s reduction of an anti-SLAPP attorney’s fee award from the $112,288.63 sought by the moving party to $23,000. The trial court there based its decision on its experience dealing with attorney’s fees motions in similar contexts and a declaration submitted by counsel for the party opposing the motion regarding the reasonable amount of time to have spent on the motion. (Ibid.) The court reduced the fee in part because the time sheets attached with the motion for attorney’s fees were vague, and that it was unclear what the total amount of hours were for the fees sought. (Ibid.) The court also considered the monetary value of the action in reducing its fee award. (Id. at p. 1252.)

Here, Kardashian has not provided sufficient information for the Court to discern whether the requested fees are appropriate. Further, a reduced fee is frequently applied when a party only partially prevails. (City of Colton, supra, 206 Cal.App.4th at 786.)

Accordingly, the Court CONTINUES this motion. Kardashian to file with the Court supplemental documentation regarding billing records and comparable billing rates.

Kardashian to give notice.

Dated: February 4, 2020

__________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC678014    Hearing Date: November 21, 2019    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

JUSTIN C. JONES,

Plaintiffs,

v.

ROBERT KARDASHIAN, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC678014

Hearing Date: November 21, 2019

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

defendant angela white’s DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF’S complaint (AS LARGELY STRICKEN AS TO DEFENDANT ANGELA WHITE BY THE COURT’S ORDER DATED SEPTEMBER 25, 2019)

Defendant Angela White (Blac Chyna)’s Demurrer to the Complaint is SUSTAINED without leave to amend with regards to the Third Cause of Action; and OVERRULED with regards to the Second and Fourth Causes of Action.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is an action for Defamation, Public Disclosure of Private Facts, Cyberbullying in Violation of Penal Code §653.2, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. The Complaint alleges as follows:

Plaintiff Justin Jones (“Jones”) was friends with Defendant Angela Renee White aka Blac Chyna (“Chyna”), a public personality. (Complaint ¶ 6.)There exists a picture of Jones and Chyna kissing one another on the lips. (Complaint ¶ 7.) In October 2016, this kissing photo was released to an online entertainment publication. (Complaint ¶ 8.) Other sites released the photo with false headlines indicating that Jones and Chyna were in a sexual relationship. (Complaint ¶ 15.) Although Jones did not release the photo, Chyna and Defendant Robert Kardashian (“Kardashian”) believed he did, and so conspired to create a campaign of cyberbullying against Jones by sending threatening texts and releasing Jones’s private phone number and email address to the public. (Complaint ¶¶ 18, 21.) Chyna also released private information about Jones’s sexual orientation. (Complaint ¶ 19.) As a result of the release of Jones’s contact information, he received insulting and threatening messages from the public. (Complaint ¶ 23.) Jones eventually attempted suicide, though he was unsuccessful. (Complaint ¶ 26.)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Jones filed the Complaint on October 2, 2017, alleging four causes of action:

  1. Defamation (Against Chyna only)

  2. Public Disclosure of Private Facts

  3. Cyberbullying in Violation of Penal Code § 653.2

  4. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

On September 25, 2019, this Court granted in part each of the Special Motions to Strike filed by Chyna and Kardashian against the Complaint. The Court granted Chyna’s Motion to Strike as to the First Cause of Action, and granted as to the Second, Third, and Fourth Causes of Action except that the Motion was denied to the extent they were based on the social media statements disclosing Jones’ private contact information. The Court granted Kardashian’s Motion to Strike as to the Second and Third Causes of Action, and granted as to the Fourth Cause of Action except to the extent it was based on the group text messages.

Chyna filed the instant Demurrer on October 29, 2019.

Jones filed an Opposition on November 7, 2019.

Chyna filed a Reply on November 14, 2019.

DISCUSSION

  1. DEMURRER

A demurrer should be sustained only where the defects appear on the face of the pleading or are judicially noticed. (Code Civ. Pro., §§ 430.30, et seq.) In particular, as is relevant here, a court should sustain a demurrer if a complaint does not allege facts that are legally sufficient to constitute a cause of action. (See id. § 430.10, subd. (e).) As the Supreme Court held in Blank v. Kirwan (1985) Cal.3d 311: “We treat the demurrer as admitting all material facts properly pleaded, but not contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law. . . . Further, we give the complaint a reasonable interpretation, reading it as a whole and its parts in their context.” (Id. at p. 318; see also Hahn. v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747 [“A demurrer tests the pleadings alone and not the evidence or other extrinsic matters. Therefore, it lies only where the defects appear on the face of the pleading or are judicially noticed. [Citation.]”)

“In determining whether the complaint is sufficient as against the demurrer … if on consideration of all the facts stated it appears the plaintiff is entitled to any relief at the hands of the court against the defendants the complaint will be held good although the facts may not be clearly stated.” (Gressley v. Williams (1961) 193 Cal.App.2d 636, 639.)

A demurrer for uncertainty is strictly construed, even where a complaint is in some respects uncertain, because ambiguities can be clarified under modern discovery procedures.” (Khoury v. Maly’s of Cal., Inc. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 612, 616.) Such demurrers “are disfavored, and are granted only if the pleading is so incomprehensible that a defendant cannot reasonably respond.” (Mahan v. Charles W. Chan Insurance Agency, Inc. (2017) 14 Cal.App.5th 841, 848.)

A demurrer should not be sustained without leave to amend if the complaint, liberally construed, can state a cause of action under any theory or if there is a reasonable possibility the defect can be cured by amendment. (Schifando v. City of Los Angeles, supra, 31 Cal.4th at p. 1081.) The demurrer also may be sustained without leave to amend where the nature of the defects and previous unsuccessful attempts to plead render it probable plaintiff cannot state a cause of action. (Krawitz v. Rusch (1989) 209 Cal.App.3d 957, 967.)

Defendant Chyna demurrers to the remaining second, third, and fourth causes of action in the Complaint following this Court’s ruling on Chyna’s anti-SLAPP motion.

  1. Second Cause of Action – Public Disclosure of Private Facts

The elements for public disclosure of private facts are: “(1) public disclosure (2) of a private fact (3) that would be offensive and objectionable to the reasonable person and (4) is not of legitimate public concern.” (Jackson v. Mayweather (2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 1240, 1256, as modified (Apr. 19, 2017), review denied (June 28, 2017).)

With respect to the fourth element, “newsworthiness” is a complete bar to liability for publication of truthful information. (Id.) Newsworthiness can be determined by the court by balancing the public’s right to know against the plaintiff’s privacy interest at the point where “the material revealed ceases to have any substantial connection to the subject matter of the newsworthy report.” (Id.)

The demurrer argues that, regarding the allegation that Chyna released Plaintiff’s phone number and email address, the disclosure of this information could not be considered “offensive.” (Motion at pp. 4-5.) Citing to Four Navy Seals v. Associated Press (S.D. Cal. 2005) 413 F.Supp.2d 1136, 1144, Chyna contends that “the release of someone’s phone number and email address, without more, cannot be considered ‘offensive’.” (Id. emphasis in original.)

In Opposition, Plaintiff argues that the Second Cause of Action has been well pleaded. (Opposition at p. 3.) Plaintiff maintains that Chyna has not cited to any cases that have held that the release of a phone number and email address cannot be considered “offensive,” and that Chyna encouraged her social media fans to contact Plaintiff via the provided contact information regarding the paternity dispute, which was offensive and objectionable. (Opposition at pp. 4-5.)

Chyna relies on Four Navy Seals, a Federal District Court case. However, Four Navy Seals is based on a newspaper publishing photographs of Navy Seals purportedly engaging in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners where the faces of the Seals were visible. (Id. at p. 1140.) The private facts alleged to have been disclosed in that case were the identities of the soldiers, where the soldiers had been the ones who originally photographed themselves. (Id. at 1145.) The court found that the soldiers lacked a privacy interest in their faces because they photographed themselves while detaining prisoners and thereafter allowed the posting of the photos on the internet, despite the face that they intended only certain individuals to have access to the website. (Id.)

Four Navy Seals is inapplicable to the instant case because Chyna has released private contact information, not identity or likeness, and Plaintiff Jones did not previously release the contact information himself in some capacity.

In the instant case, Chyna and Plaintiff debate whether the releasing of Plaintiff’s email address and phone number on social media was “offensive” under the law. The standard for offensiveness in the context of public disclosure of private facts considers “the degree of intrusion, the context, conduct and circumstances surrounding the intrusion as well as the intruder's motives and objectives, the setting into which he intrudes, and the expectations of those whose privacy is invaded.” (Miller v. National Broadcasting Co. (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 1463, 1483–1484.)

While California courts have not directly addressed the issue at hand, several Federal cases have indicated that publication of an individual’s home address, without more, cannot be viewed as an invasion of privacy. (See, e.g., Alvarado v. KOB-TV, L.L.C. (10th Cir. 2007) 493 F.3d 1210, 1218–1219; McNutt v. New Mexico State Tribune Co. (N.M. Ct. App. 1975) 88 N.M. 162.) However, as both courts note, home addresses are generally public facts, which makes the publication of such address “mere publication[.]” (Alvarado v. KOB-TV, L.L.C., supra, 493 F.3d at 1218–1219.)

As Plaintiff Jones’ email address and cell phone number are not published elsewhere (such as in a phone book) they are not public facts like the home addresses addressed above, which makes their disclosure more than mere publication.

In Cockrum v. Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., a District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia addressed the issue of WikiLeaks’ disclosure of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. (Cockrum v. Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (E.D. Va. 2019) 365 F.Supp.3d 652, 655, case dismissed (4th Cir., July 5, 2019, No. 19-1398) 2019 WL 5152518.) In Cockrum, the stolen emails were posted on the Internet, and the posted emails included the plaintiffs’ personal information including social security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, phone numbers, and banking relationships. (Id.) The court dismissed the claims for public disclosure of private facts because the State of Virginia does not recognize a common law right to privacy. (Id. at 671.)

Unfortunately, as the Cockrum court mentions, public disclosure of private facts is a sparsely litigated invasion of privacy tort. (Id. at 667.) However, a common theme regarding disclosure of private contact information is whether the information has been previously published/disclosed. (Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn (1975) 420 U.S. 469, 494–495 [“the interests in privacy fade when the information involved already appears on the public record”].) Additional themes include whether the plaintiff had an objectively reasonable expectation of seclusion or solitude in his information. (See Shulman v. Group W Productions, Inc. (1998) 18 Cal.4th 200, 232, as modified on denial of reh'g (July 29, 1998).)

Here, Chyna does not argue that Plaintiff Jones’ email address and cell phone number were already in the public record. Chyna also does not argue that Plaintiff Jones did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his personal contact information.

The Complaint in this case alleges that Chyna released Plaintiff’s cell phone number and email address to the public and encouraged the public to contact him when posting the private contact information. (Compl. ¶¶ 21, 23.) As a result of such disclosure and encouragement, Plaintiff received various “scurrilous, disgusting, and threatening messages from unidentified members of the public” including threats on his life (For example, “And today will be the last day of you walking bitch”). (Compl. ¶ 23.)

The Court finds that the Complaint sufficiently alleges a claim for public disclosure of private facts because Plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his private contact information, and releasing such information was offensive because it accompanied encouragement to contact Plaintiff and expectedly resulted in the public contacting Plaintiff with threatening and violent messages.

The Demurrer is OVERRULED as to the Second Cause of Action.

  1. Third Cause of Action – Cyberbullying

The Complaint alleges the Third Cause of Action – Cyberbullying against Chyna, in violation of Penal Code section 653.2. (Compl. ¶¶ 41-43.)

Section 653.2, subsection (a), makes it a misdemeanor for a person, with intent to place another person in reasonable fear for his safety, to electronically distribute, publish, e-mail, hyperlink, or make available for downloading, personal identifying information which would be likely to incite or produce unwanted physical contact, injury, or harassment, by a third party. (Pen. Code, § 653.2.)

In this Demurrer, Chyna argues that Penal Code section 653.2, a criminal statute, does not provide for a private right of action in a civil matter. (Motion at pp. 6-8.) In Opposition, Plaintiff concedes that section 653.2 does not reference an express private right of action but argues that the allegations in the Complaint nonetheless constitute cyberbullying. (Opposition at pp. 5-6.)

Whether a party has a right to sue under a statute depends on whether the Legislature has manifested an intent to create such a private cause of action under the statute, and such legislative intent, if any, is revealed through the language of the statute and its legislative history. (Lu v. Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Inc. (2010) 50 Cal.4th 592, 596.)

Here there is no evidence in the legislative history of section 653.2 that the legislature intended such private right of action and Plaintiff does not provide any evidence of such intent.

Accordingly, the Demurrer is SUSTAINED without leave to amend as to the Third Cause of Action.

  1. Fourth Cause of Action – Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

A cause of action for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (“IIED”) requires proof of: (1) extreme and outrageous conduct by the defendant with the intention of causing, or reckless disregard of the probability of causing, emotional distress; (2) the plaintiff's suffering severe or extreme emotional distress; and (3) actual and proximate causation of the emotional distress by the defendant's outrageous conduct. (Christensen v. Superior Court (1991) 54 Cal.3d 868, 903.)

In her Motion, Chyna argues that her alleged public release of Plaintiff’s phone number and email address is not sufficiently extreme or outrageous conduct as to constitute IIED. (Motion at p. 9.)

In Opposition, Plaintiff argues that the conduct was sufficiently outrageous because Chyna posted the private information on her social media account with many followers, with conscious disregard that those fans would contact Plaintiff and threaten him. (Opposition at pp. 6-7.)

A defendant’s conduct is “outrageous” when it is “so extreme as to exceed all bounds of that usually tolerated in a civilized community.” (Jackson v. Mayweather, supra, 10 Cal.App.5th at 1265.)

Here, the Complaint alleges that Chyna posted Plaintiff’s email address and private cell phone number of her social media account and encouraged the public to contact him. (Compl. ¶¶ 21, 23.) Because Chyna is a celebrity persona with many social media followers, publicizing another person’s private contact information with directions to contact that person is substantially likely to cause distress to that other person, which the Complaint alleges to have resulted in violent threats. (Compl. ¶ 23.) The Plaintiff is entitled to have a jury decide whether the alleged conduct is sufficiently outrageous due to the high number of social media followers, amounting to power over Plaintiff, who would have unauthorized access to Plaintiff’s private contact information.

Accordingly, the Demurrer is OVERRULED with regards to the Fourth Cause of Action.

Plaintiff to give notice.

Dated: November 21, 2019

__________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court