Plaintiffs Fail To Satisfy the "Prevailing Party" Standard

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Where a Settlement Offset Exceeds the Amount Awarded at Trial

In Goodman v. Lozano, 2010 DJMAR 1925, (2010), the California Supreme Court decided an important case under CCP § 1032, the prevailing party statute.

Background

The plaintiffs entered into a contract to purchase a house from the Lozano defendants. AMPM Construction built the house. Shortly thereafter the plaintiffs sued the Lozanos, Albert Mobrici, a principal with AMPM, AMPM, the architect, and the real estate brokers for construction defects. After protracted litigation, the builder and its principal settled with the plaintiffs for $200,000. Other defendants, except for the Lozanos, settled with the plaintiffs for approximately $30,000. The plaintiffs rejected the Lozanos’ $35,000 settlement offer under Code of Civil Procedure Section 998. The case went to trial and the court awarded the plaintiffs $146,000 against the Lozanos. However, the prior settlements totaled $230,000.

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