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ANTI-SLAPP MOTIONS NOT FILED REAP NO FEES Attorneys fees aren’t available when plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss a suit before the defense can file an anti-SLAPP motion, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. “To allow recovery for post-dismissal work,” Justice Carol Corrigan wrote for a unanimous court, “runs counter to the purpose of [the anti-SLAPP law]: To compensate defendants for expenses incurred in extricating themselves from SLAPP suits.” Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation are suits ostensibly filed to interfere with a defendant’s business interests or free speech. But the 1992 anti-SLAPP law � codified as Code of Civil Procedure ��.16 � provides a special motion letting defendants attempt to strike such claims as baseless. If a defendant’s motion to strike prevails, they are entitled to attorneys fees and costs. But not, the court ruled Monday, if the plaintiff has dismissed the suit before the anti-SLAPP motion is filed. Corrigan said the ruling accomplishes two goals. “Plaintiffs have the freedom to reconsider the wisdom of their actions without penalty before defendants have incurred clearly identifiable and recoverable legal fees,” she wrote. “Defendants are expeditiously relieved of the burden a SLAPP suit imposes, because they must generally file their anti-SLAPP motion ‘within 60 days of the service of the complaint.’” The ruling is S.B. Beach Properties v. Berti, 06 C.D.O.S. 6915.

Mike McKee

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