Plaintiff Is Not Disqualified From Fee Recovery Given Only Injunctive Relief Requested Under CLRA Claim; Matter Remanded For District Court To Determine Prevailing Party Status.
Gonzales v. CarMax Auto Superstores, No. 14-56305 (9th Cir. Jan. 6, 2017) (published) involved a situation where a plaintiff won a summary judgment and sustained it on appeal in a California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) action. The district court refused to award appellate fees on the theory that plaintiff rejected a defense correction notice which disqualified fee recovery in a damages action under CLRA.
That conclusion was reversed by the Ninth Circuit. Plaintiff only sought injunctive relief such that the CLRA damages restriction did not disqualify the litigant from seeking recovery of appellate fees as the successful party. However, the district judge needed to be the one to decide if plaintiff truly prevailed on a pragmatic level such that the matter was remanded to have this determination made in the first instance, although the Ninth Circuit did suggest that it looked like plaintiff did prevail. The Ninth Circuit also carefully observed that its decision did not encompass a situation where a plaintiff sought both injunctive and damages relief.