Williams v. Chino Valley Indep. Fire Dist., 218 Cal. App. 4th 73 (2013)

Loring Winn Williams sued the Fire District for disability discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The Fire District succeeded in getting the case dismissed on summary judgment – after filing a successful petition for writ of mandate when the motion was initially denied. The Fire District subsequently filed a memorandum of costs, and the trial court awarded the Fire District $5,368.88 in costs pursuant to Code of Civ. Proc. § 1032(b). On appeal, Williams asserted that no costs should have been awarded because his discrimination claim – though unsuccessful – was not “frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless.” The Court of Appeal affirmed the award of costs to the employer on the ground that “ordinary costs are obtainable by the prevailing defendant as a matter of right, and they are not subject to [the standard set forth in] Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC, 434 U.S. 412 (1978).” Note also Cal. Senate Bill No. 462 (amending Lab. Code § 218.5 to limit employer recovery of prevailing-party attorney’s fees to cases in which the employee brought the action in “bad faith”).