New CA Anti-SLAPP Case

anti-slapp Jan 10, 2023
 
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Can Attorney Fees Be Awarded for Filing a Frivolous Anti-SLAPP Motion?

Anti-SLAPP motions give defendants an opportunity to quickly knock out the plaintiff's case and also get an award of attorney fees. But is there any punishment if a defendant files a frivolous anti-SLAPP motion? Last month, the Third District Court of Appeal published a new decision addressing this issue. To find out what they decided, watch the video and read my case summary below.

New CA Anti-SLAPP/Code of Civil Procedure Decision  

City of Rocklin v. Legacy Family Adventures etc. (2022) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2022 WL 17827565: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order denying defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion to strike (Code of Civil Procedure, section 425. 16) and it’s order awarding plaintiff attorney fees of $72,798.65 and costs of $1,053.31 because the anti-SLAPP motion was frivolous. The anti-SLAPP motion was filed against 4 of 12 causes of action in plaintiff’s complaint regarding a joint undertaking involving the construction and operation of a theme park called Quarry Park Adventures. The parties did not actively dispute that the speech at issue in those causes of action was commercial speech, to which section 425.16 does not apply. Instead, the parties debated whether the speech concerning the theme park qualified under the “artistic work” exception (section 425.17(d)(2)) to the commercial speech exemption (section 425.17(c)). The trial court was not bound by an expert opinion offered by defendants and it properly carried out its duty to interpret the statute and made its determination as a matter of law as to whether a theme park would qualify as an artistic work under section 425.17(d)(2). The trial court correctly sustained plaintiff’s objection to paragraphs in the expert declaration as relayed case-specific hearsay. (People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665, 676.) Finally, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees to plaintiff pursuant to section 128.5 as incorporated in section 425.16(c), because any reasonable attorney would agree that defendants’ special motion to strike on the ground that the proposed theme park was an artistic work was totally devoid of merit. (C.A. 3rd, December 21, 2022.)   


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I help attorneys and their clients settle cases as a mediator, and decide cases or issues as an arbitrator or referee at ADR Services, Inc. I handle cases in the areas of business, employment, insurance bad faith, insurance coverage, legal malpractice, medical malpractice, personal injury, real property and wrongful death. I conduct Zoom and in-person hearings throughout California.
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California Case Summaries™
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