Lower Court Erred In Awarding $5,218.60 in Filing Fees, Motion Fees, and Registered Process Server Charges.
In Meyers v. Fitzgerald, Case No. H032605 (6th Dist. Nov. 19, 2009) (unpublished), plaintiffs filed a complaint that was ordered to arbitration. The complaint was later dismissed without prejudice based on certain voluntarily actions taken by defendants. However, the arbitrator still entered a decision in defendants’ favor and awarded costs pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1293.2, with the trial court confirming the arbitration award. Subsequently, defendants filed a costs memorandum seeking $5,218.60, consisting of filing and motion fees as well as registered process server fees. Plaintiffs moved to tax costs except for the $40 fee incurred in filing the motion to confirm the arbitration award. Plaintiffs appealed.
The Sixth District, upon review, initially decided that plaintiffs’ voluntary dismissal of their complaint did not prevent the arbitration from proceeding or the trial court from confirming the subsequent arbitration award, disagreeing with the majority’s conclusion to the contrary in Cardiff Equities, Inc. v. Superior Court, 166 Cal.App.4th 1541 (2008).
The appellate court also struck a midway point between plaintiffs’ position on costs (only the $40 in costs incurred to move to confirm the award were allowable) and defendants’ position on the subject (all filing fees and process service charges incurred in the case were recoverable). Construing Code of Civil Procedure sections 1293.2 and 1290 in tandem, the Court of Appeal held that “only costs incurred in judicial proceedings related to an ancillary arbitration, such as petitions to compel arbitration, petitions to confirm arbitration awards, etc., may be awarded under section 1293.2” (Slip Opn., p. 10.) Thus, the matter had to be remanded for a proper recalculation of costs awardable to defendants under section 1293.2.