Basis for Fee Recovery Was Family Code Section 8638(c).
In Bates v. Kors, Case No. D063123 (4th Dist., Div. 1 Nov. 27, 2013) (unpublished), registered adoption facilitator defendants obtained a statutory fee award of $14,760 against plaintiffs, parents attempting to adopt a surrogate baby, under Family Code section 8638(c). Section 8638(c) allows a discretionary award of fees to a prevailing party.
Plaintiffs lost their appeal of the fee award.
What happened below is that plaintiffs commenced suit without complying with mediation/arbitration requirements, and had to accede to a petition compelling arbitration. Eventually, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their suit against the adoption facilitator defendants notwithstanding entry into a settlement agreement with the surrogate parties.
Even though section 8638(c) has no definition of prevailing party, the appellate court, in line with other cases, decided that this focuses on who achieves his main litigation objective. Here, the facilitator defendants did just that, getting a ruling that arbitration was the proper venue and obtaining a dismissal of the lawsuit. Statutory fee award affirmed.