Before this litigation began, defendant demanded that plaintiffs’ homeowner members pay it “assignment fees” calculated at 10% of property value. Plaintiff sued for breach of contract, arguing the assignment fee agreement was unenforceable and that defendant breached the agreement by claiming fees at 10% rather than 4%. The judgment held that the fee agreement was enforceable but that fees should be calculated at the 4% rate and defendant had breached the contract by charging more. Held, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in holding that neither party prevailed for purposes of fees under Civ. Code section 1717 or costs under Code of Civil Procedure section 1032. Neither party achieved its maximum litigation goals; each gained only a partial victory. Defendant won the right to fees; plaintiff won the limitation to 4%. In judging the parties’ litigation goals, the court looks to pleadings and other formal litigation demands, not settlement offers or demands. The trial court also had the discretion to deny costs because the judgment was not a simple money judgment but also awarded significant declaratory relief.
California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Eight (Grimes, J.); February 5, 2018; 2018 WL 703011.