Payne & Fears LLP Defeats Four Abusive Suits and Wins Motions for Attorneys’ Fees
Over a four-month period, Payne & Fears LLP obtained the dismissal of four abusive defamation complaints filed by two anti-illegal immigration activists against other activists in that movement. The complaints sought to punish the defendants for speaking out about allegations of financial misconduct in the plaintiffs’ nonprofit corporation. The defendants had few resources and turned to Payne & Fears LLP for help. Without endorsing the underlying political issue, Payne & Fears LLP recognized the threat to free speech posed by the plaintiffs’ use of litigation to silence criticism. Using a special California statute designed to protect vigorous debate about matters of public interest, the firm convinced two different judges in the Orange County Superior Court to strike all four suits and enter judgment for the defendants. The Court then granted Payne & Fears LLP’s motion for attorneys’ fees, and awarded over $34,000 to the defendants to reimburse them for their out-of-pocket expenses. Daniel F. Lula handled the defense.