Verdict In Sacramento Car Accident Case Leads To Fight Over Costs, Part 3 of 7

The following blog entry is written to illustrate a common motion filed during civil litigation. Reviewing this kind of filing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.

(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this car accident case and its proceedings.)

Plaintiff was Entitled to Bring Her Case In Unlimited Jurisdiction

At the time of filing the subject lawsuit, Ms. Hill had economic loss totaling $27,000. As a result, at the time of filing her lawsuit, the amount in controversy exceeded $25,000. California Code of Civil Procedure § 85(a) defines a limited civil case as one where:

(a) The amount in controversy does not exceed twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000). As used in this section, amount in controversy means the amount of the demand, or the recovery sought, or the value of the property, or the amount of the lien, that is in controversy in the action, exclusive of attorneys’ fees, interest, and costs.

Since Ms. Hill had economic damages which exceeded $25,000, it was proper for her to file her case in unlimited jurisdiction. Filing the case in limited jurisdiction would have required Ms. Hill to concede her reasonable and necessary medical expenses, her lost wages and any non-economic damages.

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

Ms. Hill had a good faith belief that she was entitled to be compensated for the full cost of the injuries she sustained as a result of Defendants’ negligence. While it is true that the jury did not agree with Ms. Hill’s treatment choices, this does not mean that she did not incur the debts associated with the treatments and lost the wages during her recovery time.

This Court, at its discretion can award Ms. Hill all of her recoverable costs. CCP § 1033 provides that:

(a) Costs or any portion of claimed costs shall be as determined by the court in its discretion in a case other than a limited civil case in accordance with Section 1034 where the prevailing party recovers a judgment that could have been rendered in a limited civil case.

This statute, however, does not provide any guidance as to what factors the court should consider in making its decision as to what costs should be awarded a prevailing plaintiff who could have brought her case in limited jurisdiction. In Dorman v. DWLC Corp. (1995) 35 Cal.Ap.4th 1808, 1816 the court states the following when considering what factors the court should consider:

It would seem clear that matters such as plaintiff’s assessment of his chances of recovery beyond the jurisdiction of the municipal court when he filed his action-whether reasonable and in good faith-the amount of the recovery-looked at in relationship to the maximum amount of the municipal court jurisdiction-and the amount of costs incurred-are some of the factors to be considered by the trial judge in exercising his discretion under Code of Civil Procedure section 1032, subdivision (d).

In the current case, given Ms. Hills economic loss, $27,000, was over the jurisdictional limit, she clearly had a good faith belief that she was entitled to recover more than $25,000 at trial. (See Part 4 of 7.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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