Mine opponents win two more

Judge rules operator’s suit a SLAPP, denies preliminary injunction

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge has agreed with opponents of the New Era Mine that its operator’s lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction is indeed a SLAPP suit.

SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation” and refers to a specious suit designed solely to inhibit legitimate activities—in this case, posting photographs of the mine on a Web site. The mine’s operator, North Continent Land and Timber, argued that the photographs were obtained through trespassing and revealed “trade secrets” about the mine’s operation.

Judge Rudolf Loncke’s Jan. 16 tentative ruling noted, however, that similar photos had been posted on other sites, including Butte County’s, and that the plaintiffs had failed to prove the charges were true.

The ruling on the SLAPP motion also made North Continent’s lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction invalid, the judge ruled. He had earlier denied North Continent a temporary restraining order. In court action so far, the score stands 3-0 in favor of mine opponents.