Record Showed Plaintiffs Pursued Other Claims Unsuccessfully, So SJM Against Them Meant Litigation Objectives Not Achieved.
Plaintiffs did win a battle when defendant lender-oriented parties stipulated to stay foreclosure proceedings pending the outcome of the litigation initiated by plaintiffs.
However, plaintiffs lost the merits of the suit based on demurrer and ultimate summary judgment rulings. The lower court then denied plaintiffs’ request to recover contractual attorney’s fees as the prevailing parties. (In an earlier opinion, the appellate court had affirmed a judgment of dismissal which was found to have been incorrectly entered but waived when plaintiffs moved for fee recovery.)
Plaintiffs did not get any change in result on appeal in Henschel v. Mortg. Electronic Registr. Systems, Inc., Case No. B249430 (2d Dist., Div. 5 Aug. 22, 2014) (unpublished).
Rather, defendants were totally victorious on all pled causes of action, including the breach of contract claim. (Interestingly, defendant never sought an award of fees.) Although plaintiffs argued that they obtained their litigation objective by obtaining a foreclosure stay, the appellate court found the record belied this contention because they continued to pursue their claims based on subsequent litigation conduct ending in an eventual dismissal of their case. They did not prevail, with the “pragmatic approach” not applying because there was no voluntary dismissal of claims and with the costs definition of prevailing party not determining that status under Civil Code section 1717.
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