Demand in Complaint Did Not Determine Good Faith of 998 Offer.
This next one involves “wild” facts but a fairly routine application of the law.
In Kulkarni v. Upasani, Case No. G045914 (4th Dist., Div. 3 July 19, 2013) (unpublished), plaintiff husband sued several family members and acquaintances, accusing them of conspiring with his ex-wife to abduct their infant son from Orange County to wife’s parents’ home in India. You can imagine the emotions in this litigation, with husband obtaining a large default judgment against wife but losing to the allegedly conspiring defendants--he got zero via a nonsuit against certain defendants and nothing from a jury against other defendants. Defendants moved to recover costs (especially expert witness fees) because plaintiff rejected respective $2,000 and $20,000 998 offers.
The lower court refused to tax any of these costs, which meant the 998 offers’ validity was sustained.
That result upheld on appeal.
Defendants beat the 998 offers such that plaintiff had to show the offers were made in bad faith. Plaintiff did not meet his burden, because the amount of claimed damages or a party’s subjective belief in the case’s value are not the proper measures of 998 “good faith.” Nothing demonstrated that the offers were made other than in good faith. (Essex Ins. Co. v. Heck, 186 Cal.App.4th 1513, 1530 (2010).)
Justice Fybel, on behalf of a 3-0 panel, authored the opinion on appeal.