However, Fee Recovery Under Government Code Section 800(a) Limited To $7,500 Per Case, No Matter How Many Parties Or Whether Multiple Issues Were Involved.
Fratus v. County of Contra Costa, Case No. A153424 (1st Dist., Div. 1 Sept. 28, 2018) (unpublished) is a situation where the appellate court reversed the denial of attorney’s fees to winning plaintiffs against the County under Government Code section 800(a), which allows for a maximum recovery of $7,500 for arbitrary/capricious findings in an administrative proceeding. In their brief on appeal, plaintiffs also raised fee entitlement under a local County ordinance with a fee-shifting provision. On remand from the prior decision, the trial court awarded the $7,500 under the Government Code but believed it could not award fees under the local ordinance based on the law of the case (namely, the appellate court only issuing a disposition limited to the Government Code fee-shifting provision).
The First District, Division 1, reversed. The reviewing court admitted that it had failed to address the local ordinance issue by oversight, given that it was raised by plaintiffs in the prior appeal such that the law of the case doctrine did not govern. However, plaintiffs also argued that they were entitled to more than $7,500 based on there being multiple parties and additional issues, plus were entitled to “fees on fees” and fees on appeal for winning the prior appeal under section 800(a). To this argument, the appellate court said “no,” given the legislative cap of $7,500. The “end result” was the $7,500 award remained intact and the matter was remanded to address fees under the local ordinance.