California Court of Appeal Upholds Rare Attorneys Fees Award Against Plaintiff

Daniel Villanueva sued the City of Colton for discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The trial court sustained nearly all of the City's objections to his evidence, leaving him with virtually no opposition to the City's motion for summary judgment. He lost. Then the trial court awarded the City $39,000 in attorneys fees for pursuing a frivolous case. The Court of Appeal held that the City properly won summary judgment, that the unchallenged evidentiary objections precluded the court's consideration of excluded evidence, and that on the merits there was nothing to the case. The court then held that 1) the trial court must consider the employee's ability to pay an attorneys' fees award and 2) the plaintiff put on no evidence of inability to pay. So, the trial court's award of fees was upheld, as the case was frivolous.

The case is Villanueva v. City of Colton. Opinion is here.