Attorney's Fees

Practices:
Appellate Law

Result:

Reversed a trial court decision, ordering clients to pay more than $150,000 in attorney’s fees and costs to city government in connection with a permit dispute.

Client:

Retired Police Officer

Overview:

Clients were sued by their city government for allegedly creating a public nuisance based on the height of their boundary fence. After the public nuisance case settled, the city sought and obtained an award for more than $150,000 in attorney’s fees and costs in connection with the lawsuit. McManis Faulkner argued that the city ordinance governing attorney’s fees for nuisance actions was invalid since it was one-sided: only the city could recover fees as it was written. State law prohibits such one-sided ordinances. Perhaps aware of the defect, the city passed a new ordinance allowing an award of fees to whichever side prevailed in a public nuisance action, but the new enactment did not become effective until six days after the action was dismissed. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision. The clients did not have to pay the city any attorney’s fees or costs in connection with the lawsuit.