California Supreme Court Civil Issues Pending: Attorney Related

[UPDATED THROUGH MAY 7, 2014]

When Are Brandt Attorney Fees Considered Part of the Judgment?
After the Court of Appeal modified and affirmed the judgment in a civil action, the Court granted review on the following issue: Is an award of attorney fees under Brandt v. Superior Court (1985) 37 Cal.3d 813 properly included as compensatory damages for purposes of calculating the ratio between punitive and compensatory damages where the fees are awarded by the jury, but excluded from compensatory damages when they are awarded by the trial court after the jury has rendered its verdict? Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., S213873 (opinion below B234271, formerly 219 Cal.App.4th 188). Review granted on 12/11/13. Update 1/15/14: The Court limited briefing to the following issue: The court ordered the issues to be briefed and argued limited to the following issue: Is an award of attorney fees under Brandt v. Superior Court (1985) 37 Cal.3d 813 properly included as compensatory damages where the fees are awarded by the jury, but excluded from compensatory damages when they are awarded by the trial court after the jury has rendered its verdict?
 

Can the Court Award Attorney Fees After Striking the Complaint for Lack of Jurisdiction? After the Court of Appeal reversed an order awarding attorney fees in a civil action, the Court granted review on the following issue: If the trial court grants a special motion to strike under CCP § 425.16 on the ground that the plaintiff has no probability of prevailing on the merits because the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the underlying dispute, does the court have the authority to award the prevailing party the attorney fees mandated by § 425.16(c)? Barry v. State Bar of California, S214058 (opinion below B242054, formerly 218 Cal.App.4th 1435). Review granted on 11/27/13.

Can an Insurer Seek Reimbursement from Independent Counsel?   After the Court of Appeal affirmed judgment, the Court granted review on following issue: After an insured has secured a judgment requiring an insurer to provide independent counsel to the insured (see San Diego Fed. Credit Union v. Cumis Ins. Society Inc. (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d 358), can the insurer seek reimbursement of defense fees and costs it considers unreasonable and unnecessary by pursuing a reimbursement action against independent counsel or can the insurer seek reimbursement only from its insured? Hartford Casualty Ins. Co. v. J.R. Marketing, L.L.C., S211645 (opinon below A133750, formerly 216 Cal.App.4th 1444). Review was granted 9/18/13.

Can a Homeowner Recover Attorney’s Fees Against an HOA When Its Governing Documents Are Found To Be Deficient? The Court limited review to the following issue: Is a prevailing homeowner entitled to attorney fees under Civil Code § 1354 in an action by a homeowners association to enforce its governing documents as those of a common interest development when the homeowner prevailed because it was later determined that the subdivision was not such a development and its governing documents had not been properly reenacted? Tract 19051 Homeowners Assn. v. Kemp, S211596 (B236015, nonpublished opinion). Review was granted 8/28/13.

Does the Enforcement of Judgments Statutes Govern An Award For Fees And Costs Under The Elder Abuse Act? The Court granted review after the Court of Appeal reversed an order granting a motion for post-judgment attorney fees and costs, on the following issue: Is a trial court award of statutorily-mandated fees and costs incurred on appeal subject to the Enforcement of Judgments Statutes (CCP § 685.040, et seq.) if the statutory authority underlying the award is the Elder Abuse Act (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 15600, et seq.)? Conservatorship of McQueen, S209376 (opinon below A134337, nonpublished opinion). Review was granted 5/15/13. Update 4/4/14: Oral argument scheduled for 5/7/14. Update: 5/7/14: Case argued and submitted. The briefs are here.

Does a Victory on Procedural Grounds Support Attorney Fees under Civil Code § 1717? After the Court of Appeal affirmed an award of attorney fees the Court granted review on the following issue: Is a party who obtains the dismissal of a contract action entirely on procedural grounds entitled to an award of attorney fees under Civil Code § 1717 as the prevailing party in an action on a contract? Kandy Kiss of California, Inc. v. Tex-Ellent, Inc., S206354 (opinion below B234541, formerly 209 Cal.App.4th 604). Review was granted on 1/16/13..

 

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