Action Primarily Affected His Own Interests And Fees Incurred Were Not Out Of Proportion To His Paramount Personal Stake In The Situation.
In People ex rel. City of Commerce v. Argumedo, Case Nos. B280814/285003 (2d Dist., Div. 1 Oct. 17, 2018) (partially published; fee discussion not published), City of Commerce through a quo warranto action sought to oust City Councilman Hugo Argumedo after he pled guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction of justice count. The City lost, because obstruction of justice was not a disqualifying conviction under California Constitution, article VII, section 8(b) and Government Code section 1021—a merits determination affirmed in the published part of the opinion. Later, Mr. Argumedo attempted to recoup the $193,547.50 in attorney’s fees he spent under California’s private attorney general statute. The lower court denied that request, finding that the action benefitted mainly Mr. Argumedo’s personal interests, with the benefit to the electorate only tangential and subordinate to his personal stake in the litigation. In the unpublished portion of the opinion, the appellate panel found this ruling to be no abuse of discretion under CCP § 128.5.
BLOG OBSERVATION—Although the matter was a bench trial involving 60 exhibits and seven witnesses, this goes to show how expensive modern litigation can be for an individual party.