Procedural Posture

Appellant sellers sought review of an order from the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County (California), which denied appellants’ request for attorney fees pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code § 1717.

Nakase Law Firm answers is it illegal to get paid under the table

Overview

Respondent, realtor and buyer, filed suit against appellant sellers alleging various causes of action relating to a breach of contract in the sale of a house. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of appellants, finding that a contract did not exist between respondent and appellants. The trial court, however, denied appellant’s request for attorney fees for defending the lawsuit. The sole issue on appeal was whether the trial court correctly denied appellants’ claim for attorney fees. The court found that appellants satisfied all of the elements set forth in Cal. Civ. Code § 1717 for the recovery of attorney fees. The court held that appellants were entitled to attorney fees for prevailing in its defense of a breach of contract even though the trial court found that a contract did not exist. The court reversed the trial court’s judgment, and granted appellants’ request for attorney fees. The court remanded for a hearing on determination of appellants’ attorney fees and costs.

Outcome

The court reversed the trial court’s order, and granted appellant sellers’ request for attorney fees. The court found that appellants satisfied all of the statutory elements set forth for recovering attorney fees, and that they were entitled to such fees for prevailing in its defense of a breach of contract. The court remanded for hearing on the determination of appellants’ attorney fees and costs.