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In this case, an ambulance EMT challenged the constitutionality of Prop. 11 (Lab. Code 880 et seq.) which made ambulance employees remain reachable by a communication device during meal breaks and made that rule retroactive.  Plaintiff sought a ruling from a second Court of Appeal after the Fourth District upheld the measure in Calleros v. Rural Metro of San Diego,… Read More

Lab. Code 1194(a) provides that in a suit for unpaid minimum wages, an employee is entitled to recover the unpaid wages as well as reasonable attorney fees and costs.  This provision conflicts with CCP 1033(a) which grants trial courts discretion to deny costs when the plaintiff recovers less than the maximum awardable in a limited jurisdiction case.  This decision determines… Read More

In 1989, the Legislature codified the common law fair procedure requirements with respect to staff and hospital privileges, setting forth detailed peer review requirements which now supersede any common law procedural requirements in the peer review context.  See Bus. & Prof. Code 809 et seq.)  The trial court erred in awarding attorney fees against plaintiff under Bus. & Prof. Code… Read More

There are only two elements to a misappropriation of trade secrets claim:  the existence of a trade secret, and its unauthorized dissemination, disclosure or use.  It is not necessary for the plaintiff to prove it was damaged or the defendant was unjustly enriched.  Those issues are relevant only to an award of damages or restitution.  Even absent damages or enrichment,… Read More

Unlike the FEHA, the Song-Beverly Act's one-sided attorney fee and cost clause does not expressly exempt Song-Beverly fee and cost awards from CCP 998's fee and cost shifting framework when the plaintiff does not accept the 998 offer and later recovers less than that offer.  Hence, CCP 998 applies to Song-Beverly Act claims. Section 998 aoplies even when the lawsuit… Read More

An action to rescind a contract for fraud is an action on the contract for purposes of Civil Code 1717.  Section 1717 is not limited to actions for breach of contract or seeking to enforce the contract.  A party is entitled to attorney fees under section 1717 even when the party prevails on grounds the contract is inapplicable, invalid, unenforceable… Read More

Under Gov. Code 12965(b), (c)(6), the award of attorney fees and costs to a prevailing defendant in a FEHA case is discretionary but governed by the rule that the defendant may recover fees and costs only when the claim was frivolous.  This decision holds that since the trial court must exercise its discretion, the prevailing defendant cannot claim costs by… Read More

Effective in 2023, the Legislature amended Family Code 6344 to authorize attorney fee awards in Domestic Violence Prevention Act cases to the prevailing party without any requirement of a showing of need by the prevailing party.  This decision holds that the new statute applies retroactively to all still pending cases because the Legislature has provided in Family Code section 4… Read More

To obtain a private attorney general fee award, the applicant must show, among other things, that "the necessity and financial burden of private enforcement ... are such as to make the award appropriate."  Private enforcement is a "necessity" unless a public prosecutor or other government agency stands ready to enforce the right.  Here, the trial court abused its discretion in… Read More

Distinguishing Changsha Metro Group Co., Ltd. v. Xuefeng (2020) 49 Cal.App.5th 173, this decision holds that plaintiff waived his right to attorney fees for opposing defendant's frivolous Anti-SLAPP motion by failing to give defendant 21-day notice before filing the motion for attorney fees.  CCP 425.16(d) provides that fees for opposing a frivolous Anti-SLAPP motion may be awarded in accordance with… Read More

Following Law Finance Group, LLC v. Key (2023) 14 Cal.5th 932, this decision holds that the 100-day limit on petitioning to vacate a Mandatory Attorney Fee Arbitration award is subject to equitable estoppel and equitable tolling.  It also holds that unless there is already an action pending between the parties, the petition must be served in same manner as a… Read More

A trial judge may apply a negative (or less that 1) multiplier to a prevailing party's attorney fee lodestar for pervasive incivility of the party's attorney throughout the proceedings.  Incivility shows lack of skill, which is a permissible multiplier factor. Here, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in reducing the prevailing plaintiff's lodestar by 40% for that reason. Read More

The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant attorney fees under the EAJA.  Though the district court disbelieved the government's expert witness, whose testimony was the principal evidence on which the government based its claim that defendant had overvalued the company he sold to an ESOP, the government did not anticipate that result when it went to… Read More

Seyfarth was hired to investigate a professor's claim that she was discriminated against by Cal. State University Fullerton.  It performed the investigation and submitted a report to the university administration concluding there was no merit to the professor's claims. After unsuccessfully suing a host of other defendants, the professor sued Seyfarth, claiming the report and investigation were biased, etc.  Seyfarth… Read More

Under Gov. Code 800(a), a plaintiff that successfully challenges an administrative decision that was the result of arbitrary or capricious action or conduct by a public entity or officer may recover attorney fees of up to $7,500 in the trial court's discretion.  Even if that statute requires the overturned administrative action to be "wholly" arbitrary and capricious, it does not… Read More

Plaintiff prevailed on a mandate petition challenging his one-year suspension from UC Davis for violating its policies against sexual harassment and assault.  The trial court found that the university lacked evidence of sufficiently serious misconduct to support the one-year suspension.  This decision holds that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in holding that plaintiff was not entitled to… Read More

Seyfarth was hired to investigate a professor's claim that she was discriminated against by Cal. State University Fullerton.  It performed the investigation and submitted a report to the university administration concluding there was no merit to the professor's claims. After unsuccessfully suing a host of other defendants, the professor sued Seyfarth, claiming the report and investigation were biased, etc.  Seyfarth… Read More

In a nice mirror image of Chelios v. Kaye (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 75, 80, this decision holds that since a contract is merged into the judgment on a breach of contract claim, a provision of the contract limiting attorney fee awards to $1,000 does not limit the fees that may be awarded to the prevailing plaintiff under CCP 685.040 as… Read More

Following Marx v. General Revenue Corp., 458 U.S. 371 (2013), which it holds effectively overruled Brown v. Lucky Stores, Inc., 246 F.3d 1182 (9th Cir. 2001), this decision holds that the attorney fee and cost provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act does not limit a district court's normal discretion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d) to award costs to… Read More

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