Michael Schwab, son of Charles Schwab Corp. founder Charles R. Schwab, defeated an anti-SLAPP motion that was filed as part of litigation related to a sham lawsuit brought by an individual who sought to extract $25 million from Michael and his family by making false and outlandish accusations, according to San Francisco Public Relations Agency Singer Associates.
In a ruling on March 13, 2018, California Superior Court Judge John P. Doyle denied four anti-SLAPP motions brought by Nicholas Behunin and his attorney Leonard Steiner against Michael Schwab and Charles Schwab.
“This is yet another in a string of victories over Nick Behunin and his fraudulent statements and legal attempts to shake down Michael Schwab and his family,” said attorney Robert R. Moore of the law firm Allen Matkins, who along with David Schwartz of the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, Inc., and Michael Stepanian of the Law Office of Michael Stepanian, represented Michael Schwab, Charles R. Schwab and their investment groups.
A SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, is a lawsuit that aims to retaliate for speaking out on a public issue and seeks to chill free speech. An Anti-SLAPP motion is used to strike such a complaint, under California’s anti-SLAPP statute.
Judge Doyle concluded that the accusations that Behunin and Steiner made against the Schwab family on a website and blog are not covered under California’s anti-SLAPP statute.
The ruling is the latest in a string of court decisions favorable to Michael Schwab and his family with regard to the false accusations made by Steiner and Behunin. Specifically, in April and May 2017, two separate Superior Court judges dismissed all claims against Charles Schwab and related parties.
On October 27, 2017, California Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson ruled in favor of Michael Schwab and granted his request to dismiss all causes of action against him in a 2014 lawsuit filed by Behunin and the Grain Collective, owned by Behunin and Christopher Jensen. The court subsequently awarded Michael Schwab his attorneys’ fees and costs for having to defend against Behunin’s frivolous lawsuit.
In the 2014 lawsuit, Behunin falsely, and with no facts or evidence of any kind, accused Charles and Michael Schwab of fraud in connection with Indonesia’s real estate market.
After filing the lawsuit, Behunin set up a website in which he published lies about the family, in order to pressure Michael and Charles Schwab to pay money to settle his meritless lawsuit, which sought $25 million. Instead, the Schwabs sued Behunin and Steiner, his lawyer, for libel, and argued that claims the men made on the website and a blog were false and defamatory to the Schwab family.
(The case is Michael B Schwab vs Leonard Steiner et al, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles).