State Court Is Different Than Federal On This Issue, Such That Retroactivity Prevailed Here.
USS-POSCO Industries v. Case, Case Nos. A140457/A142145 (1st Dist., Div. 1 Jan. 26, 2016) (published) decided that the fee-shifting statute in effect at the time of the fee motion, which was different than the one at the time the defense obtained summary judgment, was the operative fee-shifting provision. The fee-shifting provision was Labor Code section 218.5. At the time the defense obtained summary judgment, it allowed fees to the prevailing party with no caveats. However, by the time of the fee motion proceeding, the section had been amended to require effective January 1, 2014 that a prevailing defendant/employer prove that an employee’s wage action was brought in “bad faith” before fees/costs can be awarded. The Court of Appeal decided the fee-shifting statute was procedural such that the amended section applied, requiring a reversal of the fee award in favor of the defense under the prior statute. In doing so, the reviewing court did note that federal courts usually take a different stance on this retroactivity type of issue.