Though Their Defense to Tort Claims Did Not Give Rise to a Fee Entitlement, Cross-Claim Win Did It For Prevailing Lessees.
Arrambide v. Mastagni, Case No. B223980 (2d Dist., Div. 6 Feb. 2, 2012) (unpublished) reinforces a good lesson in the Civil Code section 1717 area--you can win fees on a cross-claim even though your defense to tort claims will not do the job.
There, lessees successfully defensed a lessors’ complaint based on fraud, which would not give rise to section 1717 fees even though lessees successfully raised a contractual defense to a tort claim. (Gil v Mansano, 121 Cal.App.4th 739, 741 (2004).) However, not to despair. Lessees did win on cross-claims which sought to enforce the lease. The win fortified that they were entitled to $40,000 in fees, as the lower court appropriately awarded.