Friday, December 15, 2006

Wakefield v. Bohlin (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 15, 2006)

Call me nutty. Call me crazy. Call me absurd. Call me way, way too interested in civil procedure. But I think the California Supreme Court should take this case up.

The essential question -- among many in the case -- revolves around who's the prevailing party when plaintiff wins at trial but recovers zero due to setoffs from other settling defendants. Justice McAdams writes a very well written, well-structured, and lengthy (28-page) opinion that says it's plaintiff. Justice Mihara authors a dissent that's half the size and concludes it's the defendant. There's also some interesting stuff in there about whether the wife is a prevailing party when she wins at trial but her husband doesn't, and Justice McAdams concludes that she's not (necessarily).

This is an important issue. It happens all the time. It often involves, as here, a cost and fee award that's several times the amount of the underlying judgment.

It's important enough for the California Supreme Court to decide the issue.