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MANUFACTURED HOME COMMUNITIES v. COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO

September 7, 2005.

MANUFACTURED HOME COMMUNITIES, INC., a corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; LV UNITED, INC., RANCHO MESA RESIDENTS, INC.; and RANCHO VALLEY MOBILEHOME HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NAPOLEON JONES, District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES.
Currently before the Court is Defendants County of San Diego and Dianne Jacob's ("Defendants") Motion for Attorneys' Fees ("Motion") and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in support thereof. [Doc. Nos. 104, 105.] Plaintiff Manufactured Home Communities ("Plaintiff") has filed an Opposition to the Motion. [Doc. No. 115.] For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the Motion.

Background Facts

  This action arose from rent increases instituted by Plaintiff at three of its mobilehome parks and subsequent actions undertaken by Defendants. Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") alleged the following causes of action: (1) four claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") for denial of equal protection, denial of First Amendment rights, violation of the Fifth Amendment takings clause, and denial of substantive due process, against the County of San Diego; (2) one claim under Section 1983 for denial of First Amendment rights, against Dianne Jacob; and (3) two claims for state law relief, namely defamation and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, against the County of San Diego. (See, generally, SAC.)

  On May 18, 2005, this Court granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's State Law Claims pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16 ("anti-SLAPP statute"). (See May 18, 2005 Order.)

  On May 23, 2005, this Court granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment in its entirety, resolving the remainder of Plaintiff's claims in Defendants' favor. (See May 23, 2005 Order.)

  Discussion

  Defendants seek reasonable attorneys' fees under the anti-SLAPP statute and under Title 42, United States Code, Section 1988 ("Section 1988"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants reasonable attorneys' fees under the anti-SLAPP statute and DENIES Defendants attorneys' fees under Section 1988.

  I. Attorneys' Fees Under the California Anti-SLAPP Statute

  A. Legal Standard

  The California anti-SLAPP statute mandates that "a prevailing defendant on a special motion to strike shall be entitled to recover his or her attorney's fees and costs." Cal. Civ. Code § 425.16(c). The fee-shifting provision promotes the statute's general purpose to encourage participation in matters of public significance and discourage strategic lawsuits designed to chill speech. Ketchum v. Moses, 24 Cal. 4th 1122, 1130-31 (2001) (internal quotations omitted).

  The prevailing party seeking attorneys' fees "bears the burden of submitting detailed time records justifying the hours claimed to have been expended." Chalmers v. City of Los Angeles, 796 F.2d 1205, 1210 (9th Cir. 1986). However, the prevailing party "is not required to record in great detail how each minute of his time was expended" but rather "can meet his burden — although just barely — by simply listing his hours and identifying the general subject matter of his time expenditure." Fischer v. SJB P.D. Inc., 214 F.3d 1115, 1121 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal quotations and citations omitted) (finding that a "summary of the time spent on a broad category of tasks such as pleadings and pretrial motions" was sufficient to meet prevailing party's burden").

  The district court retains broad discretion as to the amount of attorneys' fees to award, although the award must be reasonable and supported by "substantial evidence." Metabolife Int'l, Inc. v. Wornick, 213 F.Supp.2d 1220, 1223 (citing Dove Audio, Inc. v. Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman, 47 Cal. App. 4th 777, 785 and Macias v. Hartwell, 55 Cal. App. 4th 669, 676 (1997). Courts generally multiply the number of hours expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate. See Blum v. Stevenson, 465 U.S. 886, 888 (1984).

  B. Discussion

  For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that: (1) Defendants are the prevailing parties in the anti-SLAPP motion; (2) the amount of $190 per hour is a reasonable billing rate; and (3) the ...


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