SN awarded additional $4,604 against Seemeyers and attorney

By Linda Bentley | October 7, 2009

Fees, costs, expenses and statutory damages total $43,345
PHOENIX – On Sept. 28, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bethany Hicks granted Sonoran News Publisher/Editor Donald Sorchych his second interim motion for an additional $4,603.50 in attorneys’ fees against Plaintiffs Thomas and Karen Seeymeyer, the defunct Desert Advocate and their Attorney James M. Laganke, currently on probation with the state bar.

That brings the total amount of the judgment against the Seemeyers and Laganke to $43,345.22, comprised of $36,353.30 in attorney’s fees, $223 in taxable costs, $1,758.92 in expenses and $5,000, the maximum allowed, in statutory damages for filing a lawsuit without substantial justification.

The $43,345 is also accruing post-judgment interest at a rate of 10 percent per year until all costs, expenses, fees and damages are paid in full.

On Aug. 24, Laganke was censured by the Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court for violation of his duties and obligations as a lawyer in other matters and was ordered to be placed on probation for one year, attend classes and pay restitution.

Additionally, the order stated Laganke “shall refrain from engaging in any conduct that would violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona.”

Sorchych’s attorney Dan Barr and Craig Morgan of Perkins Coie Brown & Bain thought it ironic that the plaintiffs were a newspaper and the complaint was about a graphic of a zombie.

Referencing the $5,000 awarded in statutory damages and the fact that the entire $43,345 judgment is ordered against not just the Seemeyers but Laganke as well, Barr said, “This sends an important message to people filing unmerited lawsuits. The Seemeyers had no intention whatsoever of pursuing their claims. And, had they thought about the possibility of being ordered to pay the defendant’s attorneys’ fees for bringing a meritless complaint, they probably wouldn’t have filed it.”