Damages Award Was Inside Of $25,000 Jurisdictional Limit, But Lower Court Did Not Abuse Discretion By Granting Fees Anyway.
California Code of Civil Procedure section 1033(a) does allow a trial judge to discretionarily deny any award of attorney’s fees to a litigant who files an unlimited jurisdiction case but obtains a damages award under the $25,000 threshold. The trial judge in Barahona v. Automotive Creations, Inc., Case No. G052354 (4th Dist., Div. 3 Aug. 17, 2016) (unpublished) still awarded a prevailing wage/hour plaintiff $40,000 in attorney’s fees under Labor Code section 218 despite the fact plaintiff won $24,488--$512 shy of the unlimited jurisdiction threshold.
Employer’s appeal of the fee award was unsuccessful.
First of all, the lack of a reporter’s transcript on the fee hearing hampered review. But beyond that, the trial judge certainly could have concluded that “close, but a cigar” in
1913. Library of Congress.
this context was appropriate given that plaintiff fell short by a small amount.
Presiding Justice O’Leary wrote the 3-0 panel decision.