Plaintiff Did Not Have to Prove Size of Positively Impacted Class of Applicants.
We would like to give a “Hat Tip” to Greg May, who authors the California Blog of Appeal, who discussed the case of Samantha C. v. State Dept. of Developmental Services, Case No. B232649 (2d Dist., Div. 1 June 21, 2012) (published; Mallano, P.J.) in his June 25, 2012 post.
In Samantha C., plaintiff lost her lawsuit seeking state services, but obtained a reversal in a published decision construing the germane statutory and regulatory law on the subject. She sought to obtain reimbursement of fees of $243,817.50 under California’s private attorney general statute, CCP § 1021.5. The trial court refused to make a fee award, finding instead the prior decision only benefitted her.
The Second District, Division 1, reversed and remanded for a determination of fees to be awarded to plaintiff. A de novo review standard was found appropriate because the appellate court was as well positioned as the lower court to determine the impact of its prior published decision. Indeed, the prior published reversal did benefit all state services applicants in plaintiff’s same status, a public benefit not requiring plaintiff to exactly demarcate the size of the class of applicants positively impacted.