LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – A contract employee for Lifetech Resources LLC no longer has to pay $137,000 in attorneys' fees after asking for his breach of contract suit to be dismissed.
Achikam Shapira filed an appeal with the California Court of Appeals for the 2nd Appellate District in Division Four over claims that the order by the lower court to pay legal fees and costs in his lawsuit against Lifetech was “erroneous.”
Shapira argued that the court erred in its decision under Civil Code section 1717, according to the court opinion by Justice Audrey B. Collins. Justices Thomas L. Whillhite Jr. and Nora M. Manella concurred.
According to the opinion, Shapira had filed the suit against Lifetech in 2015, claiming it breached the employee contract he had signed with them by terminating his employment without cause.
The trial for the case lasted a total of four days in December 2016. When closing arguments were to be presented, Shapira requested that the case be dismissed.
The lower court denied the dismissal request in January 2017 and instead ruled in favor of Lifetech in the suit. The court ordered Shapira to pay attorney fees and costs that amounted to $137,000 to Lifetech.
Shapira appealed the decision, claiming that there was no prevailing party in the suit and that no attorney fees should have been handed down. Because Shapira voluntarily requested dismissal of the case, he argued that he is exempt from paying the legal expenses of Lifetech in the suit.
Collins agreed with Shapira and reversed the decision of the lower court. In her opinion of the case, she wrote that Shapira had a right to dismiss the case before completion of the trial. She stated that the lower court refused Shapira that right and had erred in its decision, and there was in effect no prevailing party to the suit and thus no attorney fees or costs could be ordered.
The case has been remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.