A court may award the defendant in a California False Claims Act its attorney fees against a governmental plaintiff if the defendant was the prevailing party in the action and the court finds it was clearly frivolous, vexatious, or brought for the purpose of harassment. Gov. Code 12652(g)(9)(B). This decision affirms an award to the defendant. For purposes of the fee award statute, the prevailing party is determined by success on the False Claims Act cause of action only, not on other claims with which it may be joined. A plaintiff’s success in fending off a demurrer, summary judgment motion or other pretrial motions does not immunize it from a later finding that the False Claims Act cause of action was frivolous.
California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5 (Bruiniers, J.); November 26, 2018; 29 Cal. App. 5th 378