Fact that Winner Did Not Prevail on Mechanic’s Lien Claim Did Not Dilute Stop Notice Win.
Civil Code section 3176 is a special fee-shifting provision allowing a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to a bonded stop notice claimant prevailing in any action against an owner or construction lender.
A bonded stop notice claimant in Griffith Co. v. Spondulix Co., Inc., Case No. F062045 (5th Dist. May 16, 2012) (unpublished) did prevail against defendants on the stop notice claim even after foreclosure of a project and after not winning on the mechanic’s lien claim. The lower court determined that the claimant was the section 3176 prevailing party and awarded the winner both fees and costs.
The fees/costs awards were affirmed on appeal by the Fifth District. After all, despite losing the mechanic’s lien claim, claimant did win on the stop notice claim so as to be the prevailing party under section 3176. Losing defendants did not establish these awards were unnecessary hardship on them alone--even though they may have had difficulty selling the project due to the pending claims, the claimant suffered hardship in not getting paid. In a very sage observation, the appellate court said: “All parties to litigation suffer hardships over the protracted course of the proceedings . . . .” Aside from that, claimant’s attorney did a good job of providing declaration testimony indicating the requested fees/costs only encompassed stop notice work, leading to an affirmance of the awards in claimant’s favor.