In Episode 13 of the California SLAPP Law podcast (should I have skipped 13, like they do in buildings?), we cover a lot of information that will be useful to any litigator.
Although not directly related to SLAPP law and anti-SLAPP motions, I discuss how and when to bring the various trial motions; Motion for Nonsuit, Motion for Directed Verdict, and the most powerful motion that no one seems to have heard of, the Motion for Judgment. If you’ve ever been confused about which ones are used in bench trials versus jury trials, when they should be brought, and which one is best to use, this podcast will clear it all up.
Then we move onto two recent anti-SLAPP rulings.
The first is Makaeff v. Trump University, LLC (9th Cir.) 715 F. 3d 254. I discussed this case back in Episode 9, but there has been a new development.
As you may recall, Makaeff took some business courses at Trump University, but then later sued, claiming the classes. Trump University countersued, claiming that Makaeff’s criticism of Trump University amounted to defamation. Makaeff responded to the suit with and anti-SLAPP motion. The district court denied the anti-SLAPP motion, but that denial was reversed on appeal. Now the victorious party on her anti-SLAPP motion, Makaeff brought a motion for attorney fees.
We discuss the number of hours Makaeff’s attorneys claimed to have spent on the anti-SLAPP motion and appeal, the opposition to the motion for attorney fees, and how the court responded.
In that context, we discuss Serrano v. Unruh (1982) 32 Cal.3d 621, wherein the California Supreme Court held that where an attorney overreaches in a fee application, fees can be denied in their entirety. Serrano cited to the following cases in reaching that conclusion.
See, e.g., Copeland v. Marshall, 641 F.2d 880, 902-903 [not allowable are hours on which plaintiff did not prevail or “hours that simply should not have been spent at all, such as where attorneys’ efforts are unorganized or duplicative. This may occur … when young associates’ labors are inadequately organized by supervising partners”]; Gagne v. Maher, 594 F.2d 336, 345 [excessive time spent]; Lund v. Affleck (1st Cir. 1978) 587 F.2d 75, 77 [if initial claim is “exorbitant” and time unreasonable, court should “refuse the further compensation”]; Reynolds v. Coomey (1st Cir. 1978) 567 F.2d 1166, 1167 [duplication of effort]; Farris v. Cox (N.D.Cal. 1981) 508 F.Supp. 222, 227 [time on fee petition denied for “overreaching”]; Vocca v. Playboy Hotel of Chicago, Inc. (N.D.Ill. 1981) 519 F.Supp. 900, 901-902 [fee denied in entirety on ground of counsel’s dilatoriness and hours claimed for clerical work]; Jordan v. United States Dept. of Justice (D.D.C. 1981) 89 F.R.D. 537, 540 [fee denied in entirety on ground of unreasonable request and inadequate documentation].
Next, we discuss Anderson v. Geist (2015) (no citation yet available). In Anderson, two deputies executed a bench warrant on a woman, not realizing the warrant had been withdrawn. The woman sued for defamation and a number of other claims. The deputies responded with an anti-SLAPP motion, claiming that the arrest was protected activity. Listen to the podcast to see if that strategy worked.