Trial Judge Needed to Explore Impact of Sino Century Development Case.
In Bongan v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Inc., Case No. A137303 (1st Dist., Div. 5 Sept. 12, 2014) (unpublished), the lower court had awarded $15,100 in attorney’s fees in favor of a defendant and against a plaintiff/her attorney under California Rules of Court, rule 2.30(b) which allows for “reasonable monetary sanctions” to be awarded to the court or an aggrieved person, or both, for failure without good cause to comply with applicable rules of court. The basis for the award was plaintiff’s late filing of an amended summary judgment opposition causing the defense to incur more costs because the defense reply was grounded in the initial opposition papers (rather than the amended ones). The appellate court reversed this award based on a case which came down after the sanctions were issued by the lower court, namely, Sino Century Development Limited v. Farley, 211 Cal.App.4th 688, 691 (2012). Sino held rule 2.30(b) did not authorize compensation of fees as sanctions without specific statutory authority or without an agreement of the parties otherwise. Because the lower court did not have the benefit of this decision and plaintiff had some statutory arguments (as well as the argument that fees should not be assessed against counsel), a remand was in order to consider the impact of Sino and develop a full record in light of this intervening published appellate decision.