City Was Not Aggrieved So As To Have Appellate Standing.
In Walker v. City of San Clemente, Case No. G050987 (4th Dist., Div. 3 Aug. 28, 2015) (unpublished), plaintiffs successfully obtained a refund from San Clemente of about $10.5 million in unexpended development fees to property owners on which the City had imposed unwarranted new beach parking fees in violation of the Mitigation Fee Act—a refund award affirmed on appeal in a companion published decision. Plaintiffs then moved for recovery of attorney’s fees under both the private attorney general statute and common fund doctrine.
The trial judge awarded $1.5 million to plaintiffs under the common fund doctrine, meaning the fee recovery came out of the judgment rather than funds of City over and above the common fund. City appealed the fee award.
The Fourth District, Division 3, in an opinion authored by Justice Aronson, dismissed the appeal.
The reason? City was not aggrieved on appeal so as to have standing to appeal the fee award. After all, the fee award came out of the common fund such that it did not increase the City defendant’s liability. (Sanders v. City of Los Angeles, 3 Cal.3d 252, 263 (1970).) Even though the City had standing to oppose the fee request under the private attorney general doctrine, plaintiffs did not have to raise the lack of standing under the common fund theory until the trial judge made the award—so it was not forfeited by not being raised below. No Catch 22 here.
HAT TIP -- Madison S. Spach, Jr. was one of the successful attorneys for respondents below, an attorney who has worked with co-contributors Marc and Mike on some matters. Congratulations.