1. PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler, 22 Cal.4th 1084 (2000). Most recent
California Supreme Court decision (1) observing fee awards are governed by equitable principles (pages 1094-1095); (2) listing factors to be used in calculating the lodestar (page 1096); and (3) confirming that standard of review for fee award amounts is manifest abuse of discretion (page 1095).
2. Hsu v. Abbara, 9 Cal.4th 863 (1995). The California Supreme Court
decided that fees must be awarded under Civil Code section 1717 if a
party prevails. The Court also lists the factors to be used in determining whether a litigant is a prevailing party, relying on
equitable, pragmatic considerations rather than simple arithmetic tests (page 877).
3. Serrano v. Priest, 20 Cal.3d 25, 48-49 (1977) (Serrano III). The
California Supreme Court adopted the private attorney general doctrine, which encourage suits to enforce important public policies by providing substantial attorney's fees to successful litigants in public-oriented cases.
4. Serrano v. Priest, 32 Cal.3d 621, 635 (1982) (Serrano IV). The
California Supreme Court held that, in a Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 case, the lodestar figure can be enhanced or diminished after the lower court considers such matters such as those enumerated in Serrano III.
5. Reynolds Metals Co. v. Alperson, 25 Cal.3d 124 (1979). Seminal
California Supreme Court decision which held (1) Civil Code section
1717 was established to infuse mutuality into contractual attorney's
fees clauses (page 128); (2) nonsignatory defendants can recover fees
under section 1717, as if they were parties to a contract, as long as
plaintiff would have entitled to fees as the prevailing party (page
128); and (3) apportionment of fees between contract and noncontract
claims by a prevailing party is not necessary where the diverse claims
were "inextricably intertwined" or overlapping in nature (page 129).
6. Santisas v. Goodin, 17 Cal. 4th 599 (1998). The California Supreme Court determines that dismissal of contract claims before adjudication means the dismissed party cannot be a prevailing party under Civil Code section 1717. The Court did decide that other statutory fee claims may still allow possible recoupment by the dismissed party.
7. Fletcher v. Davis, 33 Cal. 4th 61 (2004). The California Supreme Court determines that when an attorney wishes to secure payment of hourly legal fees and costs of litigation by obtaining a charging lien against a client's future recovery, the attorney must obtain the client's consent in writing. Rule 3-300 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California, which requires the client's informed written consent to the attorney's acquisition of an interest adverse to the client, applies to such a transaction.
8. Ketchum v. Moses, 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1131 (2001). A defendant who brings a successful anti-SLAPP motion is entitled to a mandatory award of attorney’s fees and costs.
9. Marriage of Flaherty, 31 Cal.3d 637, 649-650 (1982). Seminal
case setting forth the substantive and procedural guidelines for
imposition of sanctions for a dilatory or frivolous appeal.
10. Vasquez v. State of California, 45 Cal.4th 243 (2008). In noncatalyst cases where fees are sought under CCP section 1021.5, plaintiff does not have to categorically prove that reasonable settlement efforts were made, with this being an equitable factor that can be weighted in the decision to award fees.
11. Brandt v. Superior Court, 37 Cal.3d 813 (1985). If an insurer fails to act fairly and in good faith when discharging its responsibilities concerning an insurance contract, such breach may result in tort liability for proximately caused damages. Those damages can include the insurerd's cost to hire an attorney to vindicate the insured's legal rights under the insurance policy.
12. Trope v. Katz, 11 Cal.4th 274 (1995). An attorney who chooses to litigate in propria persona rather than retain another attorney to represent him in an action to enforce a contract containing an attorney fee provision cannot recover "reasonable attorney's fees" under Civil Code section 1717 as compensation for the time and effort expended and the professional business opportunities lost as a result.
13. Chavez v. City of Los Angeles, 47 Cal.4th 970 (2010). Trial court does not abuse its discretion in deny FEHA fees altogether to a prevailing party where fee request is unreasonably inflated.
14. Conservatorship of Whitley, 50 Cal.4th 1206 (2010). Under private attorney general statute (Cal. Code Civ. Proc., section 1021.5), a litigant's personal nonpecuniary interests may not be used to disqualify the litigant from obtaining fees under section 1021.5; rather, the court must focus on the financial burdens and incentives involved in bringing the lawsuit.
15. Tract 19051 Homeowners Assn. v. Kemp, 60 Cal.4th 1135 (2015): homeowner defeating homeowner association based on HOA not being a common interest development with valid governing documents was entitled to attorney’s fees recovery under Civil Code section 5975(c).
16. Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District, 61 Cal.4th 97 (2015): Losing FEHA plaintiff is not subject to routine costs exposure unless losing plaintiff brought or prosecuted a frivolous, unreasonable, meritless, or vexatious case against prevailing defendant.
17. Lafitte v. Robert Half International, Inc., 1 Cal.5th 480 (2016): Trial judges can use the percentage-of-recovery fee methodology for purposes of awarding attorney’s fees in a common fund class action, rather than required to use the lodestar approach.
18. Sun Earth, Inc. v. Sun Earth Solar Power Co., 839 F.3d 1179 (9th Cir. 2016): attorney’s fees under the Lanham Act’s “exceptional” language guided by the same factors articulated in SCOTUS’ Octane Fitness/Highmark decisions relating to patent cases.
19. DeSaulles v. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, 62 Cal.4th 1140 (2016): voluntary dismissing plaintiff who received settlement moneys from defendant was the prevailing party for purposes of recovering CCP § 1032(a)(4) routine costs unless the parties provided otherwise in their settlement agreement.
20. Kirtsaeng dba Blue Christine99 v. John Wiley & Son, 579 U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 1979 (2016): SCOTUS sets forth flexible factors to be weighed for purposes of district judges awarding fees to a prevailing party under the Copyright Act’s fee-shifting provision, 17 U.S.C. § 505.
21. DisputeSuite.com, LLC v. Scoreinc.com, 2 Cal.5th 968 (2017): litigant obtaining transfer of plaintiff’s case to out-of-state venue based on forum selection clause not entitled to Civil Code section 1717 attorney’s fees as prevailing party where plaintiff actually refiled case in different venue and no merits determination had yet been made.
22. Mountain Air Enterprises, LLC v. Sundowner Towers, LLC, 3 Cal. 5th 744 (2017) (Cal. Supreme Court 2017): an affirmative defense based on a contract is not “an action or proceeding brought” to enforce that contract for purposes of a contractual fees clause. In a 4-3 split decision, “because of” contractual fees language allowed fee recovery under agreement without a fees clause based on an “inextricably intertwined” relationship with an agreement containing a fees clause.