Neither Side Obtained Complete Success, With Both Suffering Significant Defeats In The Overall Litigation.
Both sides in 12400 Stowe Drive, LP v. Cycle Express, LLC, Case No. D069738 (4th Dist., Div. 1 Sept. 28, 2018) (unpublished) were unhappy that the trial judge found neither to be the “prevailing party” based on a lease fees clause under Civil Code section 1717. Plaintiff landlord had won $338,750 in damages under a lease renewal fair market valuation dispute, while tenant on its cross-complaint won damages of $32,960 for a leaky defective roof as against landlord. The trial judge found neither side enjoyed completed success and both sides suffered significant defeats.
The Fourth District, Division 1, affirmed. True, landlord did win some substantial damages under the complaint, but this amount was only 12% of the $2.9 million in additional rent sought from tenant and landlord also lost his argument that the lease renewal was ineffectual. These defeats justified the lower court determining landlord had not prevailed for section 1717 purposes. (See, e.g., Marina Pacifica Homeowners Assn. v. Southern California Financial Corp., 20 Cal.App.5th 191, 206-207 (2018) [litigant only winning 40% of requested recovery properly determined not to have prevailed].) With respect to tenant (albeit it a closer call), tenant had claimed nothing should be due under landlord’s complaint, $500,000 was the roof repair cost, and suffered a defeat on a defective parking lot cross-claim—defeats also supporting the view it was not the “prevailing party.”