Slander of Title Work Needs to be Apportioned Out; No Fees For Appellate Work.
Defendant in Johnson v. Grayson, Case No. G044975 (4th Dist., Div. 3 June 22, 2012) (unpublished) lost a quiet title case (also having a slander of title claim), but appealed a $330,000 adverse fee award grounded on the tort of another doctrine. The main argument on appeal was that the fee award failed to differentiate between fees incurred to actually quiet title (recoverable under tort of another or to remove title disparagement itself) versus fees to prosecute the slander of title damages claim (not recoverable according to the defendant).
Our local appellate court, in a 3-0 unpublished decision penned by Acting Presiding Justice Rylaarsdam, agreed that the requested apportionment needed to be made.
Based on Seeley v. Seymour, 190 Cal.App.3d 844, 866 (1987), defendant was right that fees were only recoverable to clear title/disparagement but not recoverable as far as seeking slander of title damages. Given that almost all the requested fees were awarded and nothing indicated apportionment was impossible, the fixing of fees had to be remanded for further recalculation.
Plaintiff, however, argued that he was entitled to fees on appeal given that he did defeat the merit challenges to the underlying relief granted in his suit. No, because the reasoning in Burnaby v. Standard Fire Ins. Co., 90 Cal.App.4th 787, 795-796 (1995) was persuasive in showing that fees on appeal are not allowed even though they were an element of damages in a quiet title or slander of title action below.