The Olympia Superior Court judge hearing the Olympia food coop anti-BDS lawsuit held a hearing to determine the penalties that the plaintiffs would pay the defendants, whose position was upheld in an ant-SLAPP ruling that dismissed the case. Lawyers for the food coop made a claim for $400,000 in fees and penalties. Of this, $160,000 constitutes the total penalties to be paid by statute by the losing plaintiffs to the sixteen coop defendants. The remainder is legal fees the defendants attorneys ran up in mounting their defense.
What was most novel, bizarre and typical all at the same time about the plaintiff’s response was to claim that they were perfectly willing to accept the $400,000 penalty as long as the coop paid it. Their reason is that they, being members of the coop, are actually representing the interests of the coop in bringing their case against the coop. So if the coop wins the case it should pay itself the penalty. Got that?
Since I won an anti-SLAPP motion in defending my own libel case brought by Rachel Neuwirth, I know that judges don’t generally award high fees to the winners. They award basic fees which have no bearing on the actual billing rates of the law firm. But it’s still a meaningful penalty and I hope it makes StandWithUs and the Akiva Tor, Israel’s NW consul, think twice before pulling such a stunt. Undoubtedly, it won’t as both seem to have deep pockets and unlimited chutzpah.
I almost feel sorry for the poor shlubs who are the plaintiffs. Unless they worked out a suitable deal beforehand with SWU and the Israeli government, they’re going to be left holding the bag on this. My guess is that some suitable right-wing pro-Israel donor will step forward and pay their debt.
It’s perfectly in character for the StandWithUs-hired attorneys to demand the coop pay itself the penalties. That is entire basis of this organization: fraud, lies and deceit.