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It is an abuse of discretion in a civil rights or public interest case (such as this Song-Beverly Act case) to deny attorney fees altogether for time spent after the plaintiff rejects a 998 offer, so long as the plaintiff ultimately recovers more than the 998 offered.  Though the trial court retains broad discretion to evaluate post-offer attorney fees and… Read More

Plaintiff successfully sued defendant for violating a conservation easement on his property.  The trial court awarded plaintiff $2.9 million in attorney fees for five years of hard-fought litigation and a 19-day trial.  This decision affirms the award.  Plaintiff could recover fees for all hours spent by its attorneys though the first $500,000 in fees was paid for by its insurance. … Read More

The triall court abused its discretion in denying plaintiff's request for an award of fees under CCP 2033.420(a) for proving facts stated in requests for admission that the defendant had wrongly denied.  None of the grounds the trial court stated were supported by the evidence.  Nor was the plaintiff required to allocate its fees to specific requests that defendant had… Read More

Although California and Indiana both generally enforce spendthrift trusts, the law of both states allow creditors to collect from the trust's assets when required by strong public policy--for example, to pay child support owed by the spendthrift beneficiary.  This decision holds that under the law of both states, the trust's assets are accessible to pay attorney fees that an opposing… Read More

In a Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act case, the ALJ abused his discretion in awarding the prevailing claimant attorney fees at an hourly rate that was substantially lower than the rates that the claimant's evidence showed were prevailing rates for attorneys of equal skill in the same market area.  Use of historical market rate surveys is a proper means… Read More

In 2007, Congress amended FOIA to partly overrule Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Dept. of Health & Human Resources (2001) 121 S.Ct. 1835 and allow the plaintiff to recover attorney fees on the catalyst theory in FOIA cases.  The 2007 amendment allows a FOIA plaintiff to prove eligibility for a fee award by either (a) he… Read More

The federal Fair Housing Act's provision regarding attorney fees and costs must be interpreted like 42 U.S.C. 1988.  Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC, 434 U.S. 412 (1978) applies.  A prevailing defendant cannot recover either attorney fees or costs without showing that the suit was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless. Read More

Gov. Code 91003 allows an attorney fee award to the prevailing party in an action seeking injunctive relief to enjoin violations or to compel compliance with the provisions of the Political Reform Act.  This case holds that the statute does not pit impecunious plaintiffs against well-healed defendants.  So, the prevailing party standard adopted in Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. (1994) 510… Read More

Probate Code 2640.1 allows a trial court to award attorney fees against the estate of the conservatee and in favor of the person who petitioned for appointment of a conservator if the court appoints a conservator different from the one the petitioner requested.  Here, however, the conservatorship petition was dismissed in a settlement before any conservator was appointed.  In that… Read More

When an attorney sues a client for attorney fees under an express or implied in fact contract for non-contingent fees that satisfies the requirements of Bus. & Prof. Code 6148, the attorney is entitled to the agreed fees even if they exceed a "reasonable fee" set by the lodestar plus multiplier method--so long as the fees and fee agreement are… Read More

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