Plaintiff Denied Attorney Fees Even Where He Prevailed on Appeal


In Wood v. Santa Monica Escrow Co., 2009 DJDAR 12082 (Aug. 13, 2009), the Second Appellate District decided a novel prevailing party attorney fee case. The plaintiff, Craig Wood, was the personal representative of the Estate of Merle A. Peterson. Plaintiff brought an action against Patrick McComb and Santa Monica Escrow Co. alleging causes of action for alleged elder abuse. The complaint asserted that the defendants improperly induced an elderly individual to obtain a loan secured by her residence, and to distribute the proceeds to Patrick McComb. Merle Peterson obtained the loan with Santa Monica Escrow acting as escrow agent.

Two years after filing the complaint, the Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the action. After dismissal, Santa Monica Escrow moved for attorney fees based on the contractual provisions in the escrow agreement which stated that a prevailing party would receive attorney fees in an action between the escrow holder and parties to the escrow.

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