The final briefs have been filed in the Dawe v. Corrections USA case, signaling that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association appeal of a multimillion-dollar court decision against it is moving toward a hearing.
In 2010, CCPOA lost a federal defamation case brought by businessman Brian Dawe. Judge Lawrence Karlton, who heard the case in Sacramento and lowered a jury's $12 million award to $5 million, then ordered CCPOA to post property and cash as collateral during the appeal.
Attorney Dan Baxter, who represents Dawe, has cross-appealed Karlton's decision to reduce the award.
We expect that in the next few weeks the court will set a date for oral arguments to commence, probably in the last quarter of this year.
CCPOA is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the decision because the trial court, the union says, shouldn't have allowed consideration of "assertedly libelous statements that form the core of Plaintiffs' case and the basis for their multi-million dollar judgment."
The union also argues says that Karlton erred by changing a ruling that Dawe was a public figure. Public figures have to prove that a defamatory statement about them is made with "actual malice." In other words, to win a defamation lawsuit, public figures have to prove that whoever made the statement knew it was false or made it with reckless disregard for whether it was true.
And, CCPOA says, that even the reduced award is excessive, since it is more than the union's net worth.
The plaintiffs counter that Dawe was indeed libeled and that the union's net worth isn't a standard for setting awards. Besides, Dawe's filing says, CCPOA's net worth is more than it has claimed, since the association takes in nearly $30 million per year in dues from members and has a history of spending money on entertainment, property and executive travel, among other things.
Note: The filings contain profane language.