Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Renewable Resources v. Pebble Mines (Cal. Ct. App. - July 30, 2013)

I understand Justice Klein's holding in this morning's opinion.  Defendants can't file an anti-SLAPP motion to a lawsuit that claims that one of them solicited (and the other happily paid) a $50,000 bribe in order to obtain confidential documents belonging to the plaintiff.  If that's what the defendants did, it's illegal.  You can't sell a client's documents to its adversary -- or threaten to do so -- merely to get your client to pay you (or to make a fast buck).  That plaintiff allegedly did some sleazy and/or illegal stuff as well, or that some of the damages arising from the bribery involved an election fundraising proceeding, doesn't matter.  Paying someone a bribe to breach their fiduciary duties isn't "free speech" subject to an anti-SLAPP motion.

That part I understand.

What I don't understand is why Justice Klein begins the first full paragraph of page six of the opinion with the following:  "On April 4, 2011, a mere 24 days after the commencement of the action, [] defendants filed a special [anti-SLAPP] motion to strike. . . ." (emphasis in original).  Not only does Justice Klein emphasize this fact, but he repeats it again later in the opinion.  Defendants apparently had the audacity to file a motion dismiss the complaint 24 days after it was filed!  Can you believe it?!

I'm honestly confused.  What's so bad -- or unusual -- about that fact that it bears repeatedly emphasis?

Justice Klein correctly notes that anti-SLAPP motions are required to be filed within 60 days.  Defendants filed in the middle of this statutory period.  What's weird about that?  Sophisticated lawyers can presumably crank out an anti-SLAPP motion in three full weeks.  Especially if they're working on it full time.  No shock there.  Sophisticated lawyers also often don't wait until the very last day to file something.  No real surprise on that front either.

So what's the big deal?  That defendants filed the motion when they did seems totally routine to me.  Not even worthy of mention.  Much less repeated emphasis.

So I can understand the holding.  I could even (maybe) understand the point about the "24 days" if the issue in the opinion whether the trial court erred in awarding only $30,000 in attorney's fees rather than the nearly $170,000 (!) requested by the defendants.

But it's not.  The only issue is whether the anti-SLAPP motion was properly granted.  Which it wasn't.  So that defendants filed it 24 days after the complaint was filed seems totally irrelevant.  (Indeed, if anything, it should be a point of pride:  "We filed a losing motion, but at least we filed it promptly!")

So neat opinion.  One worth reading.

But maybe skip the part about the 24 days.