Plaintiff Was Not Successful and Defendant Fixed Problem Based on CLRA Pre-Suit Notice.
In Boling v. DTG Operations, Inc., Case No. G049360 (4th Dist., Div. 3 Mar. 2, 2015) (unpublished), plaintiff sued under the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) to recover damages for a small discrepancy between a county tax charge advertised on a car rental website and the actual higher charge based on renting a car from the Phoenix airport, although the rental company fixed the problem after receiving the pre-suit CLRA notice. Then, plaintiff moved to recover $37,443 in fees under California’s private attorney general statute and CLRA fee-shifting statute. Both the trial and appellate courts, politely we might say, said “no way.”
One must be a “successful party” to be entitled to fees under CCP § 1021.5, and plaintiff was not. He was also no catalyst, because the car rental company fixed the problem based on the pre-suit CLRA notice, not from the lawsuit itself. Also, plaintiff failed to show his action benefitted a large number of persons, other than an unproven discrete number using the Phoenix car rental service at the time. Finally, given the lower court found no damages were awardable to plaintiff (affirmed in a companion appeal), he could not be considered the prevailing party under CLRA, not to mention that his gripe was fixed by the alleged offending party.
Acting Presiding Justice Bedsworth penned the decision on behalf of a 3-0 panel.