When an out-of-state car dealer successfully demonstrates that California had no jurisdiction over it, does the trial court retain jurisdiction to award attorneys fees to that defendant? Yes it does, said a California Court of Appeal in Shisler v. Sanfer Sports Cars, Inc. (2008) __ Cal.Rptr. 3d __ 2008 WL 4347761.
Moreover, in determining whether the car dealer was entitled to its attorneys fees under the CLRA for having to move to quash the summons served on it, the Court of Appeal required a showing of “subjective bad faith” on the part of the plaintiff:
The attorney’s fee provision of the CLRA, Civil Code section 1780, subdivision (d), provides: “The court shall award court costs and attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff in litigation filed pursuant to this section. Reasonable attorney’s fees may be awarded to a prevailing defendant upon a finding by the court that the plaintiff’s prosecution of the action was not in good faith.” Corbett v. Hayward Dodge, Inc. (2004) 119 Cal.App.4th 915, 924, held that this statutory provision requires the trial court to find that the plaintiff proceeded in subjective bad faith before it may award fees to a prevailing defendant. Since the trial court in this case specified that it found no subjective bad faith, the award could not have been based upon the CLRA.
The Court of Appeal held that since the trial court had found an absence of subjective bad faith on the part of the plaintiff, only the Florida UDAP statute afforded such a right.