Court-Ordered Mediation Costs Are Discretionary Costs Item For Award Purposes.
Hariri v. Clark, Case No. A149402 (1st Dist., Div. 2 May 8, 2018) (unpublished) is an interesting case showing how a CCP § 998 offer involving largely non-monetary features may not give rise to cost shifting based on the results actually obtained.
What happened here was that plaintiff sued defendant neighbors for landscaping obstruction, with the trial judge issuing an injunction requiring defendants to trim or remove certain vegetation. (The certain emphasis obviously will be important for the end result.) Plaintiff made a CCP § 998 settlement offer and sought to recovery expert witness fees of $32,540.50 and costs for an unsuccessful mediation. The trial judge denied all of these costs requests, prompting an appeal by plaintiff.
Nothing changed on appeal.
The problem here was that the judgment awarded to plaintiff versus the request for landscaping requests in the litigation did not line up, with the appellate chart charting what relief was requested and judgment obtained to show that no one necessarily obtained a favorable result as far as landscaping results. That shifted concerns to the mediation costs; although the mediation was court-ordered, the lower court still had discretion to reimburse these costs, such that the decision to deny was no abuse of discretion.