Mar 30, 2011 Civil Procedure
Court affirms attorney fee award to GMSR’s public entity client

Ruttlen v. County of Los Angeles (2011) 2011 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 2389 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Three) [unpublished]. In a prior appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s grant of the anti-SLAPP motion filed by GMSR’s client, the County of Los Angeles, and remanded the case for an award of fees to the County. After the briefing on the fee motion was ostensibly complete, plaintiff filed a surreply in which she argued for the first time that an award of fees to a public entity violated her constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances. The trial court refused to consider the surreply because it was untimely, and plaintiff appealed. GMSR persuaded the Court of Appeal that plaintiff had waived her right to raise the argument on appeal by failing to raise it timely in the trial court – a surreply is not authorized by the governing statute. The court also agreed with GMSR that in any event plaintiff could not prevail on the issue because an award of fees pursuant to a fee-shifting statute does not impose “liability” on a plaintiff for the exercise of constitutional rights and, therefore, is not a violation of those rights.