Opinion:Thacker v. Walton, 2021 OK CIV APP 5
Subject matter:Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act (OCPA)
Date Decided:March 8, 2021
Trial Court:Rogers County
Route to this Court:Interlocutory appeal of trial court’s denial of defendant’s Motion to Dismiss under OCPA; Assigned to Division III of Court of Civil Appeals.
Facts:The parties assert competing requests for appeal-related attorney fees and costs. The Court of Civil Appeals previously determined the trial court should have dismissed pursuant to the OCPA the plaintiff’s state law claims (but not the plaintiff’s federal law claims). Plaintiff contends that dismissal of some but not all claims was not a dismissal of a legal action as contemplated by the OCPA and also that an award of fees under § 1438(A)(1) is discretionary. 
Standard of Review:Not specified, but appears to be de novo 
Analysis:The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed its previous holding in Steidley v. Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., 2016 OK CIV APP 63, that, “in the event the special motion to dismiss [filed pursuant to the OCPA] is granted, the claimant is responsible for mandatory attorney fees . . . . [T]he trial court must award such damages leaving only the appropriate amount of the award to the discretion of the trial court.” Further, “legal action” as used in 12 O.S. § 1438(A) includes, but is not limited to, individual claims contained in a lawsuit. Therefore, because the defendants secured dismissal of the plaintiff’s state legal actions under the OCPA special procedure, they are entitled to recovery of their reasonable appeal-related attorney fees associated with the dismissal of the state law claims.
Outcome:Reversed and remanded with instructions to determine the reasonable amount of appeal-related attorney’s fees and an equal division of appeal-related costs. 
Vote:Bay-Mitchell, J. (author)