Equity—Gilotti v. Stewart, Case No. C075611 (3d Dist. April 26, 2017) (Unpublished): Section 998 Offer, Typo Notwithstanding Valid, and Attorney’s Self Interest Disqualified Fee Recovery.
In this construction defect lawsuit, plaintiff was ordered to pay a prevailing grading contractor expert fees under CCP § 998, even though the offer said $49,999 in the written part but a typo for $39,999 in the numerical ( ) explanatory part. The trial judge granted 998 fee-shifting expert witness expenses, but plaintiff argued the offer was vague – naught!, said the court, the written numerical part made it clear $49,999 was at issue typo notwithstanding. Plaintiff challenged a denial of fee recovery to plaintiff’s husband/attorney, but this was affirmed because he had a pecuniary interest as a co-trustor of the trust owning the property subject to the action. (Gorman v. Tassajara Development Corp., 178 Cal.App.4th 44, 90, 95 (2009).)
Sanctions—Maxwell v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., Case No. A142562 (1st Dist., Div. 2 April 27, 2017) (Unpublished): 128.7 Sanctions Against Represented Parties Were Appropriate.
Represented parties appealed $17,685 in CCP § 128.7 sanctions based on the argument that they only followed the advice of their counsel. The appellate court affirmed the trial judge award because 128.7 sanctions are authorized against represented parties, especially given that a judge warned the represented parties about what they were doing in the action.
Special Fee Shifting Statutes—Casas v. City of Baldwin Park, Case No. B275535 (2d Dist., Div. 5 April 27, 2017) (Unpublished): Denial of Further CPRA Fees Was Correct.
Here, plaintiff’s counsel in a California Public Records Act (CPRA) case already received about $40,000 in fees, but moved to get more. Both the trial and appellate courts said no way, given that counsel did not properly authenticate billing records to show there was a connection with the CPRA compliance litigation work which was the subject of the additional fee request.
Allocation—IV Solutions, Inc. v. Health Net of California, Case No. B268816 (2d Dist., Div. 2 April 27, 2017) (Unpublished): No Allocation Necessary Where Work Inextricably Intertwined.
Defendants won a demurrer and judgment on the pleadings based on the statute of limitations, determinations affirmed on appeal on the merits. The defense was awarded contractual attorney’s fees of $78,768, with plaintiff arguing that at least an allocation was needed between contract and other claims. Nope, all of the claims were intertwined.