Employment Law Blog

Filter:  Christianburg Garment Co. v. EEOC

Some Notes on Awarding Attorney Fees in California

California Code of Civil Procedure section 1038 allows a public entity defendant to recover defense costs upon prevailing against a legal action, but only where the plaintiff brought or maintained he action in bad faith or without reasonable cause. A determination of good faith involves a factual inquiry into the plaintiff’s state of mind. Bosetti v. U.S. Life Ins. Co. in City of New York (App. 2 Dist. 2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 1208. Reasonable cause is determined by (1) analyzing the facts known to the plaintiff when he or she filed or maintained the action and (2) determining whether any reasonable attorney would have thought the claim tenable. Smith v. Selma Community Hosp. (App. 5 Dist. 2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1, review denied. A defendant may not recover costs simply because it won a summary judgement or other dispositive motion; victory does not per se indicate lack of reasonable cause. Laabs v. City of Victorville (App. 4 Dist. 2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 1242.