Heimlich v. Shivji

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In this dispute over attorney fees and costs following arbitration the Supreme Court held (1) a request for costs under Cal. Code Civ. P. 998 is timely if filed with the arbitrator within fifteen days of a final award and that judicial review is limited if an arbitrator refuses to award costs; and (2) the court of appeal erred in relying on a narrow exception to those limits. Client retained Attorney, and the representation agreement included a clause providing for private arbitration of disputes involving legal fees. Attorney later sued Client alleging that he owed outstanding legal fees. Client made an offer to settle the case under section 998, but the offer was not accepted. Thereafter, Client filed a demand for arbitration, which the court granted. The arbitrator issued an award granting $0 to both parties. Thereafter, Client sought costs. The arbitrator refused to award costs. The trial court confirmed the award and also refused to add costs. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) evidence of a section 998 offer may be presented before or after a final arbitration award; (2) Client's request for costs was timely; but (3) the arbitrator's denial of costs cannot be vacated. View "Heimlich v. Shivji" on Justia Law