SLAPPy New Year

December 30, 2019

SLAPPy New Year

by Audrey Priolo, Litigation Review Attorney

 

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy,
not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
—Socrates

Make diligence your firm’s new year’s resolution in 2020.  A firm can have all the right tools, but the tools must be used properly.  Calendaring software is an essential tool in any firm’s toolbox. However, without the proper knowledge behind calendaring software, it can be vastly underutilized.  Each jurisdiction has case law interpreting the laws that provide legal deadlines.  While sophisticated legal software also takes case law into account, not all case law can be boiled down into a concise calculation.

For instance, the deadline to file an anti-SLAPP motion in California.  California Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16(f) gives a 60-day deadline to file an anti-SLAPP motion after service of the complaint.  Once an amended complaint is filed, things become less clear.  “An anti-SLAPP motion may be brought within 60 days of service of an amended complaint ‘if the amended complaint pleads new causes of action that could not have been the target of a prior anti-SLAPP motion, or adds new allegations that make previously pleaded causes of action subject to an anti-SLAPP motion.’” Starview Property, LLC v. Lee (2019) 41Cal.App.5th 203 (quoting Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism (2018) 4 Cal.5th 637, 641).  Another layer is added when the anti-SLAPP motion deals with a mixed cause of action including both protected and unprotected activity.  When there is a mixed cause of action, the anti-SLAPP motion deadline may run from the original motion and is dependent on the conduct from which the plaintiff’s claims arose and if it was constitutionally protected conduct. Starview Property, LLC v. Lee (2019) (quoting Baral v. Schnitt (2016) 1 Cal.5th 376, 394).
 
It is imperative for the handling attorney to be aware of these fact dependent situations and diligently track the associated deadlines.  Without the diligence behind legal tools, it is easy for the wrong calculation to be generated because the underlying logic is incorrect.  It is always necessary for the handling attorney to be cognizant of not only the deadlines, but also the potential exceptions to avoid errors.  Diligence and good technology will undoubtedly lead to a happy and prosperous New Year.
 
Audrey L. Priolo is a licensed California attorney with over 13 years of litigation and trial experience, who now works at American LegalNet as a Litigation Procedure Attorney.  Questions may be directed to apriolo@alncorp.com

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