Degree of Success Was Key, Where Plaintiff Went From Obtaining $270,000 To Only $500.
Lemaire v. Covenant Care California, LLC, Case No. B248672 (2d Dist., Div. 6 Feb. 23, 2015) (published) is a situation where plaintiff won $270,000 in statutory damages for the defense failure to maintain complete and accurate medical records at a nursing care facility under Health and Safety Code section 1430, which also has a fee-shifting provision against the health licensee found to be in noncompliance under section 1430(b). The lower court then awarded $841,842 in attorney’s fees and $26,327.43 in costs under section 1430(b) in favor of plaintiff and against the health licensee.
That all went away on appeal when the 2/6 DCA determined that the lower court erroneously awarded $500 in statutory damages per violation rather than a $500 maximum liability cap in the entire action. In doing so, the appellate court agreed with the prior reasoning in Nevarrez v. San Marino Skilled Nursing Wellness Centre, LLC, 221 Cal.App.4th 102 (2013) on the statutory damages exposure. [We also posted on Nevarrez in our November 5, 2013 post given that the reversal there also implicated a fee award in that case.] Not surprisingly, this substantial reversal of fortune also translated into a need to revisit the fees/costs award given the much more limited success of plaintiff. (Id. at 129.) Wow! – wanna guess what will happen on remand?