Sanctions and Attorney's Fees in SLAPP Cases
SLAPP suits are lawsuits that can stop a person or group from speaking. The Texas Citizens Participation Act created "anti-SLAPP motions" as a tool to help defendants respond. If someone wins their anti-SLAPP motion, the court can make the other party pay for attorneys' fees and court costs.
What are attorney's fees?
Attorney’s fees are what your lawyer charges for the work they do on a case.
Source: Attorney's Fees (or Attorneys' Fees).
What attorney’s fees qualify?
Attorney’s fees qualify if they are reasonable. A court might use the following factors, among others, to decide if fees are reasonable:
- How complex is the case?
- How much time did the case and trial require?
- How skilled does a lawyer have to be for this type of case?
- What services did the lawyer provide?
What are court costs?
Court costs include fees to file the lawsuit, fees to serve the legal notice of the lawsuit on the other side, charges for court transcripts, and more.
Could the other side ask to get attorney’s fees and court costs from me?
Yes, if you file the Anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss in bad faith. If a court thinks your motion is frivolous or only meant to waste time, the court can choose to make you pay the other side’s attorney’s fees and court costs.
The big difference is that the court has the choice of whether or not to make you pay attorney’s fees. It is not mandatory just because you lose your Anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss. (If you win your motion, the other side must pay your attorney’s fees and court costs.)
It is very important to fully consider whether or not your case qualifies as a true SLAPP case before filing an Anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss.
What are sanctions?
Here, sanctions are money that a court makes someone pay to discourage similar lawsuits in the future. The court will set the amount. Ideally, the amount would be enough to stop the nonmovant from bringing similar bad-faith lawsuits in the future.
Note: If you win an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss in a suit filed on or after September 1, 2019, the court does not have to order sanctions. But it may do so.
Should I hire a lawyer?
Yes, it is always better to have a trained and licensed lawyer help you with your case.
It is especially smart to hire a lawyer in a SLAPP lawsuit because the other side will pay your attorney’s fees if you win.
Anti-SLAPP ActionsThis article explains the Texas Citizens Participation Act.
The Texas Public Information ActThis article discusses Texas’ Public Information Act (PIA), which gives you the right to access certain state government records that are public in...
Gathering and Presenting EvidenceThis article tells you what evidence is and provides information on the evidence rules that are followed in Texas courts.
Tips for the CourtroomThis article tells you general information on what to do and not to do in a courtroom.
Legal Research: Steps to FollowThis article provides an overview of the process of conducting legal research.
Anti-SLAPP Intake Form
Anti-SLAPP Incident Log