First Cash v. John Doe

John Doe is an anonymous poster on an internet message board who made some statements critical of Plaintiff First Cash a Texas-based chain of pawn shops and check cashing services. First Cash sued doe in Texas claiming breach of contract on the claim that Doe "may have been" an employee who signed a confidentiality agreement. First Cash then sought a California subpoena in Santa Clara County to require Yahoo to reveal Doe's identity. Doe filed a Special Motion to Strike the subpoena claiming that the lawsuit was a SLAPP (litigation aimed at silencing critics). Doe also sought the court's approval to file a declaration in support of his claim with his signature hidden to preserve his anonymity.

At issue: Whether California's Anti-SLAPP statute can be used to stop California subpoenas seeking the identity of anonymous Internet speakers without just cause.

EFF Role: Representing the Doe along with the California Anti-SLAPP project.

Outcome: The Court rejected both the SLAPP motion and the motion to file Doe's declaration under seal. This case demonstrates the need to develop either caselaw or legislation to allow anti-SLAPP motions to protect John Does when the subpoena seeking their identity is issued in California even when the underlying case is in another state.

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