Discretion to Deny Costs and Attorney Fees to FEHA Plaintiffs Rests with the Trial Courts

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In a recent California Supreme Court decision, the court determined that trial courts have the discretion to deny costs and attorney fees to a plaintiff alleging violations of the FEHA who recovers damages that could have been recovered in a limited civil case

In Chavez v. City of Los Angeles, 47 Cal. 4th 970 (2010), the California Supreme Court was presented with yet another claim brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) in which the plaintiff’s attorney requested fees far in excess of the minimal damages recovered by the plaintiff. The issue before the court was whether C.C.P. section 1033(a) gives courts the discretion to award attorney fees to a prevailing party under the FEHA when the judgment is less than the jurisdictional amount of limited civil cases ($25,000 or less).

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