$202,882.50 In Fees Had Been Requested.
Portugal v. Sewer and Pipeline Contractor, Inc., Case No. B251730 (2d Dist., Div. 3 Mar. 18, 2015) (unpublished) dealt with a former employee suing an employer for minimum wage/overtime compensation violations. Employee served a 998 offer, which did not allocate a $20,000 settlement offer among claims and which was silent about fees/costs. Employer accepted, and employee moved to recoup fees under statutory Labor Code fee-shifting provisions. The lower court awarded employee $162,434.25 out of a requested $202,882.50 as attorney’s fees.
Employer’s appeal was to no avail. The 998 offer was a contract, and the silence about fees/costs meant employee should seek them later. Labor Code section 1194, a unilateral fee-shifting provision in favor of an employee-plaintiff, was a proper fee entitlement for the award. Because section 1194 was a correct basis for the award to employee as a prevailing party, the appellate panel did not have to get into the deSaulles issue currently pending before the California Supreme Court.
BLOG OBSERVATION—Here is the review issue presented in deSaulles: “When plaintiff dismissed her action in exchange for the defendant’s payment of a monetary settlement, was she the prevailing party for purposes of an award of costs under Code of Civil Procedure section 1032, subdivision (a)(4), because she was ‘the party with a net monetary recovery,’ or was defendant the prevailing party because it was ‘a defendant in whose favor a dismissal was entered’?” (deSaulles v. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 1427, review granted July 23, 2014, No. S219236.)