$122.650 In Awarded Attorney’s Fees And $61,007.34 In Expert Fees Went Away On Appeal – POOF!
In San Diego Assn. of Governments (SANDAG) v. Vanta, Case Nos. D065476 & D066560 (4th Dist., Div. 1 July 20, 2016) (unpublished), Vanta obtained a $1,441,095.20 compensatory award in an eminent domain case after Vanta offered to settle for $3,250,000 exclusive of fees and SANDAG offered to settle for $805,800 inclusive of fees. The lower court later awarded Vanta attorney’s fees of $122,650 and $61,007.34 in expert witness fees under the eminent domain fee-shifting statute, Code of Civil Procedure section 1250.410.
The appellate court reversed the fees awards as a matter of law. SANDAG’s offer was much closer to the jury verdict than Vanta’s offer, which latter offer was unreasonable based on the evidence upon which it was basing the $3.25 million offer. Because both the owner’s demand must be reasonable and an agency’s offer must be unreasonable (Inglewood Redevelopment Agency v. Aklilu, 153 Cal.App.4th 1095, 1117 (2007)), this simply was not the case as a matter of law such that the awards had to be reversed.