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Aronson v. Dog Eat Dog Films, Inc.

Court awards defendant, producer of Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko, attorneys’ fees, costs and statutory amount following the granting of defendant’s motion to strike invasion of privacy and misappropriation of likeness claims under Washington state’s recently amended Anti-SLAPP Act.

Plaintiff Ken Aronson filed an action against Dog Eat Dog Films, Michael Moore’s loan-out corporation, for copyright infringement, misappropriation of likeness and invasion of privacy, based on the inclusion of plaintiff’s song and video in Moore’s film Sicko without the plaintiff’s permission. In an earlier ruling, the court granted defendant’s special motion to strike under Washington state’s recently amended Anti-SLAPP Act, and held that the defendant is entitled to attorneys’ fees, costs and the statutorily prescribed amount of $10,000. In this ruling, the court awarded the defendant attorneys’ fees of $31,430, costs of $697 and the $10,000 authorized by the Anti-SLAPP statute. The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that defendant’s counsel misled the court when it asked for an extension of time to file its response, allegedly so that it could file the Anti-SLAPP motion one day after the new legislation took effect. The court stated that even if there was any misrepresentation by defense counsel, “it had no impact with regard to the applicability of the new legislation and does not form the basis for denial of attorneys’ fees and costs.” The court also rejected plaintiff’s claim that the new legislation imposed retroactive penalties, noting that in his response to the motion to strike, the plaintiff also sought to recover fees and costs pursuant to the new legislation.