• A California Court Finds That Payments for an Attorney’s Time Fees Are Not “Attorney Fees” but “Costs and Expenses”?
  • November 24, 2014 | Author: Summer L. Nastich
  • Law Firm: Morris Polich & Purdy LLP - San Francisco Office
  • In Otay Ranch v. County of San Diego, (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 60, the court of appeals affirmed a trial court’s award of $44,621.28 in costs and expenses to a County related to preparation of the administrative record in a CEQA appeal. The petitioner in the CEQA action, who now had to pay the $44,621.28, appealed the award and lost. The unique aspect of Otay Ranch is that $30,435 of the award was for attorney and paralegal time at the hourly rates of $350 and $100, respectively. While a number of prior CEQA cases upheld awarding “costs as expenses” associated with technical consultants and paralegals, this is the first opinion upholding an award for the “cost and expense” of outside counsel’s time—known in all worlds other than the Otay Ranch world as “attorney fees.”