Veronica Brill, the lead defendant in the massive $330 million defamation lawsuit filed by alleged poker cheat Mike Postle, has won a $27,745 judgment against Postle for her legal costs in defending the case. The amount of Brill’s judgment was announced in a minute order issued by the case’s presiding judge, Shama H. Mesiwala, on Tuesday, and Postle did not appear for Wednesday’s final hearing on the amount being awarded to Brill in the case.
Postle’s non-appearance leaves the $27,745 “anti-SLAPP” (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) ruling enforceable and in immediate effect. Brill, as with co-defendant Todd Witteles, was eligible to file for legal expenses under California’s laws governing frivolous cases, and when Postle filed to dismiss his claims in April, it made Brill a sure winner in that regard.
Brill’s $27,745 win is roughly equal to the $26,982 judgment granted to Witteles in May on a parallel anti-SLAPP motion for damages. Brill’s motion for damages was initially set to be resolved in May, but was continued until June for reasons unrelated to the anti-SLAPP claim itself. Nonetheless, the combined amount Postle is liable for to both former defendants is $54,727. For both Brill and Witteles, however, Judge Mesiwala’s rulings do not include any mechanism to collect the awards; Brill and Witteles are tasked with collecting their respective amounts on their own.
Court’s order details $28K award to Brill
Tuesday’s minute order as issued by Judge Mesiwala breaks down the attorney’s fees and legal expenses awarded to Brill. Her defense team, led by prominent First Amendment attorney Marc J. Randazza, originally filed for a significantly higher amount of $78,600. As happened with Witteles’ parallel filing, however, Judge Mesiwala ruled the claimed legal billing hours to be excessive, given the amount of paperwork filed and the actual legal preparation involved.
Given the judge’s earlier and roughly equal award on Witteles’ claim, the nearly $28,000 judgment granted to Brill was within the likeliest range of results for Tuesday’s ruling. As granted, the $27,745 award to Brill breaks down as follows:
- 15 hours (at $800/hour) for lead attorney Randazza’s work – $12,000
- 25 hours (at $450/hour) for work performed by associate attorney Alex J. Shepard – $11,250
- 20+ hours (at $175/hour) for work performed by paralegal staffers also working on the case – $3,525
- Court fees assessed to Brill as a defendant in the case – $961.90
Much of the trimming performed by Judge Mesiwala came to the number of hours collectively worked by Randazza’s and Shepard’s five paralegal aides. The judge also noted that the claimed hours for preparing one of the memos in the case had erroneously been entered in duplicate.
Possibility of appeal on award amount remains
Brill’s attorney, Randazza, was unavailable for immediate comment on the final resolution of the case and the judgment granted to Brill. Randazza and Brill still retain the technical option to appeal the amount of the award, but may not choose to do so. In the parallel anti-SLAPP filed by Witteles, his attorney, Eric Bensamochan, accepted the similarly reduced judgment and promised to pursue Postle in collecting the $27,000 judgment.
Though Randazza was unavailable for immediate comment, he previously torched both Postle and anyone who recommended to him to file the $330 defamation case in which none of the initial 12 defendants were ever formally served. Ten of those 12 defendants, excepting Brill and Witteles, never even bothered to respond to Postle’s frivolous claims.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Postle appears to have received some terrible advice from either really piss-poor lawyers who didn’t have the courage to enter an appearance in the case, or from non-lawyers who decided to play lawyer,” Randazza stated in May. “Either way — he seems to have listened to idiots.”
Brill, speaking to CardsChat News today, said, “I’m happy with the result and I’m glad that he has to pay at least something. It feels a little bit like he’s paying something back.” Brill had been able to defend herself in the case due to the monetary assistance of multi-millionaire and high-stakes poker player Bill Perkins.
Perkins may be first in line for any funds collected from Postle, but Brill has previously expressed her hope that any additional monies recovered might also go toward a fund she has championed for many months that would aid in the purchase of a handicapped-equipped van for fellow poker pro KL Cleeton.