Plaintiff had the obligation to seek attorneys fees in a case by a date certain. Plaintiff”s counsel and defense counsel agreed on multiple occasions to extend the deadline so that they can negotiate the fee issue, but Plaintiff failed to file a written stipulation concerning the extension with the Court as required.
Negotiations break down. Plaintiff seeks fees. Defendant objects, admitting that they agreed to extensions of the deadline but fault the plaintiff for not filing a written stipulation. Trial court agrees and strikes the fee request.
The California Court of Appeals called "bullshit." "Admittedly, the law frowns on an attorney‟s neglect to comply with a clear rule. However, it positively glowers at another attorney‟s exploitation of such neglect as an excuse to break his word." Ron Burns Const. Co. v. Moore, (Cal. Ct. App. – May 11, 2010).
The Court added this:
[Defense] counsel has never denied granting at least two extensions of time….He granted these extensions even though the first one had not been timely filed with the court. His client benefited from the extensions, because it gained the opportunity to try to settle [plaintiff’s] claim for attorney fees. Under these circumstances, he is taking advantage of [plaintiff’s] counsel’s mistake in precisely the manner that is disfavored by law, to say nothing of common decency.
Thanks to Legal Blog Watch. Thanks to the California Court of Appeals for not letting a technicality trump fundamental fairness. And to defense counsel who pulled such a stunt – shame on you.