Mansik & Young Plaza LLC v. K-Town Management, LLC
Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-15-00353-CV (July 24, 2015)
Chief Justice Wright (Opinion) and Justices Lang-Miers and Stoddart
Pursuant to the Texas Citizens Participation Act, the Texas anti-SLAPP statute, K-Town and the other appellees secured summary dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims against them. With that dismissal, the trial court awarded the defendant appellees their costs of court and over $33,000 for reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees. When appellants posted a supersedeas bond of only about $2,000, covering costs alone, appellees filed a motion asking the appeals court to require that the bond be raised to cover the award of fees. But the Dallas Court of Appeals denied that request. Section 52.006(a) of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code requires that a supersedeas bond or other security for an appeal cover only “the amount of compensatory damages,” “interest for the estimated duration of the appeal,” and “costs awarded in the judgment.” Twice in the last three years the Supreme Court has held—in In re Nalle Plastics and more recently in In re Corral-Lerma—that an award of attorney’s fees does not fall within those categories and therefore need not be superseded. Appellees argued that the mandatory award of fees under the TCPA is in the nature of “compensatory damages,” because it compensates the defendant for having to defend against a baseless claim. But the Dallas Court noted that it had already rejected such an argument, in Lopez v. RS Clark & Associates, in connection with fees awarded after dismissal of a frivolous claim under the DTPA, and that the Supreme Court had done the same in Corral-Lerma, with respect to an award of fees to a defendant under the Texas Theft Liability Act: “While attorney’s fees for … the defense of a claim may be compensatory …, they are not, and have never been, damages.”