Judge Declines Discovery Request in Jenni Rivera Series Lawsuit

Jenni Rivera  -  November 28, 2011 in Mexico City, Mexio - Getty- H 2016
Victor Chavez/WireImage/ Getty Images

Jenni Rivera's family will have to work with the information they have to try to beat an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss their lawsuit over an upcoming Univision TV series, now that a judge has denied their request to proceed with discovery in the case.

Rivera was a Mexican-American pop superstar before she died in a 2012 plane crash and, since her death, projects based on her life story have been litigation magnets.

In this case, Rivera's family is suing her former business manager Pete Salgado. They claim he is violating a non-disclosure agreement by sharing confidential information in his book and an upcoming Univision series — which was announced just days after the family's own biopic plans. Latin World Entertainment Holdings and co-producers BTF Media and Dhana Media also are defendants in the suit.

Salgado is disputing the authenticity of the NDA and attorneys for the producers argue the suit should be dismissed under California's anti-SLAPP statute because the creation of a television show is an exercise of free speech, which is a protected activity.

Once an anti-SLAPP motion is filed, discovery comes to a halt — unless there is good cause and it is narrow discovery necessary to oppose the motion.

Here Rivera's family tried to prove it had good cause to seek seven depositions and discovery related to communications between Salgado and producers about the NDA and Rivera, but Judge Michael Raphael found that request was "neither necessary nor narrowly tailored."

"If the Production Defendants have any information that bears on the authenticity of the NDA, it appears that it would derive entirely from Salgado," writes Raphael in his tentative ruling. "Given Salgado’s position in this litigation — and his same-day (June 3, 2016) denial of the authenticity of the NDA when it was first raised by Plaintiff — there is no reasonable basis for concluding that the Production Defendants have some useful information bearing upon the authenticity of the NDA." (Read Raphael's tentative ruling, which he adopted Monday, here.)

A hearing on the anti-SLAPP motion is set for Dec. 19.

Salgado is represented by Howard King; the producers are represented by Martin Singer, Andrew Brettler and James Sammataro; and Jenni Rivera Enterprises is represented by Bert Deixler and Robert Dugdale.