No Attorney's Fees for Minimal Recovery in FEHA Case

The California Supreme Court held that trial courts may deny attorney's fees to prevailing plaintiffs in discrimination cases brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, if the plaintiff recovers less than the $25,000 jurisdictional minimum for superior court. The plaintiff recovered about $11,000 and tried to recover over $800,000 in attorney's fees. Code of Civil Procedure Section 1033 authorizes trial courts to deny recovery of costs and fees when the jurisdictional minimum is unmet. The Supreme Court held that Section 1033 applies in FEHA cases. The court also held that the trial court properly considered that the plaintiff grossly inflated his request for attorney's fees. The case is Chavez v. Los Angeles and the opinion is here.