Posted 11/19/2012

In People v. United States Fire Insurance Co., 2012 WL 5447864 (Cal.App. November 8, 2012) the County appealed refusal of the trial court to include its attorneys fees as “costs” incurred in successfully opposing the surety’s motion to vacate the forfeitures.    This seemed to be a matter of no interest to the surety because the effect of the County’s demand would have been to deduct the attorneys fees from the forfeited bond amounts before their division among various public entities pursuant to Penal Code §1463.  Penal Code §1305.3 provides for deduction of “costs,” and the County argued that its only significant cost was attorneys fees so the Legislature must have meant to include attorneys fees in “costs.”  The Court affirmed rejection of the County’s argument because costs has a well understood meaning and does not include attorneys fees unless there is an independent statutory, contractual, or legal basis for award of attorneys fees.  See Code of Civil Proc. §1033.5(a)(10).  [Published].