Tuesday, December 16, 2014

More SLAPP Sanity

Drell v. Cohen, No. B253688 (D2d8 Dec. 5, 2014)

An attorney who represented a plaintiff in obtaining a settlement sued the plaintiff’s former counsel to obtain a ruling on the validity of prior counsel’s attorney’s lien on the settlement proceeds. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, contending that the case arose from protected activity in the form of the letter they sent plaintiff asserting their rights under the lien. 

But that’s not really the case. The case does not allege that the defendants engaged in wrongful conduct in the assertion of their lien. It instead seeks a declaratory judgment on the lien’s validity. There’s nothing expressive or petitioning-related to the question of whether the defendants have the right to get paid out of the settlement fund. 

The court goes on to find that the plaintiff waived his right to contest the trial courts denial of attorney fees when he failed to cross-appeal on the issue. And as to fees on appeal, although the court finds the appeal “has no merit whatsoever and is poorly conceived,” the court is not convinced that it is entirely frivolous, so no fees will be awarded.


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