This case affirms denial of attorney fees to a condo owner who obtained a preliminary injunction on allegations that the condo owners association violated the Davis-Stirling Act in connection with an association election, but lost at trial. The court distinguishes Monterossa v. Superior Court (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 747 and Civ. Code 2924.12 as being focused on quick injunctive relief as the sole pre-foreclosure remedy for non-compliance with the Homeowner Bill of Rights. By contrast, the Davis-Stirling Act’s attorney fee provision, Civ. Code 5145 did not evince any intent to overturn the normal common law rule that a party that merely wins provisional relief but loses the ultimate judgment is not the prevailing party for purposes of an attorney fee award. The Court also provides a helpful discussion of the two prong inquiry that should be considered evaluating whether declaratory relief is appropriate. First, is there an actual controversy? This is a legal question which an appellate court reviews de novo. Second, does the controversy merit declaratory relief as necessary and proper? This is a matter in the trial court’s discretion and is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Here, the trial court’s denial of declaratory relief was affirmed under both standards. The complaint attacked proceedings leading to a first election of a condo owners’ association. After the suit was filed, a second election was held on the same issue without the features that the suit claimed were illegal. The result was the same in both elections. The second mooted any issue about legality of the first. And there was no issue about any continuing practice of holding illegal elections. So there was no continuing actual controversy.
California Court of Appeal, First District, Division One (Banke, J.); January 26, 2018; 2018 WL 526741.