by Paul Alan Levy
Last month I described a motion filed to quash a subpoena sent to Facebook, seeking to identify an anonymous union member who set up a Facebook parody page (included as pages 25-27 of the document that is linked here) that made fun of the leader of the Boilermakers Union for having inherited his office from his father, put relatives on the payroll, and drawn an unusually large salary as well as other compensation from the union.
The union leader’s immediate response to the motion was to withdraw the subpoena, to try to cancel the hearing that had been set to consider that motion, and to ask the court to dismiss the subpoena proceeding. However, withdrawal of the subpoena left the issue of attorney fees to be considered, and a new California statute provides for awards of attorney fees in favor of anonymous Internet speakers who prevail on motions to quash subpoenas seeking to identify them. And California has rejected the principle adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States in the Buckhannon case that allows parties that violate civil rights or civil liberties to avoid awards of attorney fees through a unilateral discontinuation of challenged conduct. Consequently, we asked the Court to keep the hearing on the schedule, so that the issue of attorney fees could be addressed.
We were looking forward to the opportunity to litigate the first case addressing how these principles apply under California’s new SLAPP-like statute governing fees for successful attacks on identification subpoenas. However, as of today all matters involved in the subpoena-related litigation were settled, including attorneys fees.
Especial thanks to Mark Goldowitz, the country's leading anti-SLAPP lawyer, for being our local counsel in the case.