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A dispute between a client and an attorney over which owned the attorney fees awarded to the "prevailing party" in the underlying litigation was in the nature of a claim for specific performance of the fee agreement or for determination of ownership of property not in the plaintiff's possession, both of which were equitable claims.  So there was no right… Read More

Following Flannery v. Prentice (2001) 26 Cal.4th 572, this decision holds that absent a clear provision to the contrary in the client's fee agreement with its lawyer, the attorney fees awarded to a prevailing party under Civil Code, § 3426.4 (part of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act) belong to the attorney, not the client to the extent they exceed fees… Read More

Government Code section 12974 provides for one-way attorney fee awards in favor of the DFEH, if successful in discrimination suits it brings.  That statute conflicts with CCP 1021.5 to the extent that 1021.5 would permit a successful defendant to obtain a fee award against the DFEH in a discrimination suit.  Since section 12974 is the more specific statute, it prevails… Read More

An unincorporated association can sue and be sued, and so can be a "party" entitled to a private attorney general fee award if successful.  When an unincorporated association represents its members in an election contest, it must show that its members live in the area affected by the outcome of the election, its members would suffer injury from an adverse… Read More

The Equal Access to Justice Act (28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)) does not authorize a fee award against the bankruptcy court that, sua sponte, refused to confirm movan't Chapter 13 plan because it did not state a definite end date for performance of the plan.  The EAJA does not treat courts as part of the "United States" for purposes of a… Read More

The amount in controversy under CAFA is the defendant's possible liability, not likely or probable liability.  When the complaint prays for an unspecified amount of punitive damages, a removing defendant can meet its burden of showing its possible liability for an amount of punitive damages by presenting evidence of the compensatory to punitive damage ratio(s) awarded in other cases alleging… Read More

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding $654,000 in attorney fees despite the fact that the plaintiff individually recovered only $2,300.  Plaintiff's success benefitted 130 other owners in a homeowners association.  In any event, attorney fee awards need not be proportional to the damage award.  Though fee awards may be reduced for partial success, a high fee-to-damage… Read More

A student prevailed in litigation against UCSB over its failure to follow its own policies requiring prompt investigation of sexual harassment or violence charges against a student particlarly when the university imposed an interim suspension on the student.  The student was reinstated and secured an injunction barring similarly delayed proceedings against other students.  This decision holds that the student is… Read More

Plaintiff secured a judgment against X based in part on a contract containing an attorney fee clause.  Thereafter, plaintiff sued Saleen seeking to enforce the judgment against him as X's alter ego.  Saleen won and moved for an attorney fee award.  Held, Saleen is entitled to a fee award.  Even though the suit on the judgment is technically not a… Read More

Substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that defendant's payment to an insider creditor who had not sought to enforce his debt for longer than the applicable statute of limitations was nevertheless not a fraudulent transfer made with actual intent to defraud plaintiff, a judgment creditor, but was only a preference--paying one creditor rather than another.  On appeal, the appellate… Read More

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