Since 1977, the private attorney general doctrine has allowed public
interest lawyers as well as lawyers in private practice to obtain attorney's
fees awards for performing legal services to successfully enforce important
rights and public policies that benefit a large class of people.1 Courts
have applied the doctrine to a wide variety of cases, including those
involving the environment and zoning ordinances, the criminal justice
system, abortion rights, First Amendment rights, the civil rights of employees
and students, equal protection rights, the electoral process, and challenges
to business practices.2
In order to obtain an attorney's fees award under Code of Civil Procedure
Section 1021.5, the private attorney general fee statute, parties must
meet several requirements: 1) they were the "successful party," 2) the
action resulted in the enforcement of "an important right affecting the
public interest," 3) the action conferred a "significant benefit" on the
general public or "a large class of persons," 4) the necessity and financial
burden of private enforcement made an award appropriate, and 5) the fees,
in the interest of justice, will not be paid out of the recovery.3
Last year, in its decision in Graham v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation,4
the California Supreme Court clarified the definition of a "successful
party" entitled to recover private attorney general fees pursuant to Section
1021.5. To appreciate the supreme court's clarification of "successful
party," a review of the term's application in prior California case law
In general, decisions of the California Court of Appeal have given the
same treatment to the terms "successful party" under Section 1021.5 and
"prevailing party" under other fee-shifting statutes. However, one significant
departure from this general rule can be found in the "catalyst" theory,
which was first recognized by the California Supreme Court in 1983 in
Westside Community for Independent Living, Inc. v. Obledo.5 In Westside,
the supreme court, citing federal precedent, announced the rule that "an
award of attorney fees may be appropriate where 'plaintiffs' lawsuit was
a catalyst motivating defendants to provide the primary relief sought....'"6
The court explained that "an attorney fee award may be justified even
where a plaintiff's legal action does not lead to a favorable final judgment."7
In Westside, the plaintiffs sought a writ of mandate compelling the
secretary of the Health and Welfare Agency to issue final regulations
pursuant to Government Code Section 11135, which prohibits unlawful discrimination
in any program or activity funded by the state.8 But the Westside court
held that there was no causal connection between the plaintiff's action
and the relief obtained because the draft regulations had been submitted
before the lawsuit was filed and, during the pendency of the lawsuit,
were subject to public comment--a course of action that resulted in the
adoption of the final regulations.9 Accordingly, the court reversed the
award of attorney's fees to the plaintiffs on the grounds that they were
not the successful parties.10
An earlier California Supreme Court case had enunciated a similar rule
without explicitly adopting the catalyst theory from the federal cases.
In Folsom v. Butte County Association of Governments,11 the court affirmed
an award of attorney's fees pursuant to Section 1021.5 following a settlement
agreement between the parties. The Folsom court stated:
While California authority on the subject is sparse, common sense
dictates that the determination of success under section 1021.5 must
depend on more than mere appearance. As we said in Woodland Hills, the
trial court must "realistically assess the litigation and determine,
from a practical perspective, whether or not the action served to vindicate
an important right...."12
The Folsom court also determined that "[t]he critical fact is the impact
of the action, not the manner of its resolution."13 The court cited with
approval the reasoning by Congress in enacting the Civil Rights Attorney's
Fees Awards Act14 and the rule set forth in a federal case that calls
for a comparison of "the situation immediately prior to the commencement
of the suit" and "the situation today," and "the role, if any, played
by the litigation in effecting any changes between the two."15
The rules set forth in Folsom and Westside laid the foundation for litigation
regarding the meaning of "successful party" under Section 1021.5 as well
as whether a particular party met the definition of a "catalyst" under
the catalyst theory. Two subsequent California Supreme Court cases ruled
that attorney's fees could be awarded under circumstances in which there
is no final judgment in the plaintiff's favor but the plaintiff obtained
the relief sought.16 In Press v. Lucky Stores, Inc., the plaintiffs' action
became moot, but the state supreme court affirmed that they were entitled
to private attorney general fees after they had achieved their litigation
goals through a preliminary injunction.17 Similarly, in Maria P. v. Riles,
the plaintiffs ultimately were awarded attorney's fees under Section 1021.5
after they obtained an injunction declaring that a section of the Education
Code was unconstitutional18--even though the lawsuit was later dismissed
as moot because of a legislative amendment deleting the unconstitutional
portions of the section.19 Following the rules set forth in Westside and
Folsom, the supreme court held that the plaintiffs "clearly obtained the
relief they sought" with the issuance of the trial court's injunction.20
These California Supreme Court decisions set the stage for a number
of opinions by the California Court of Appeal interpreting the catalyst
theory. In most of those cases, the court of appeal determined that the
party seeking fees was not a catalyst and therefore was not a successful
party entitled to Section 1021.5 attorney's fees.21 In many instances,
the court determined that there was no causal link between the lawsuit
and the change in the behavior of the defendant. For example, in Boccato
v. City of Hermosa Beach, the plaintiff successfully enjoined the defendant
city from enforcing a new resolution related to permit parking pending
Coastal Commission approval and urged the Coastal Commission to send a
letter to the city stating that a permit was required for the new resolution.
But the court held that the defendant city's conduct was not caused by
the lawsuit but was the result of the Coastal Commission's letter.22 Likewise,
in Crawford v. Board of Education, the court held that the parties seeking
attorney's fees--interveners in a desegregation lawsuit against the Los
Angeles Unified School District--were not the successful parties because
the results of the desegregation lawsuit were due to the passage of a
ballot measure and not the participation of the interveners in the lawsuit.23
The fact that one of the interveners was instrumental in the passage of
the ballot measure did not qualify that party as a successful party because,
as the court stated, "[T]he [private attorney general] doctrine simply
does not, nor should it, encompass successful lobbying efforts by those
who seek to influence the Legislature or the electorate on any particular
issue."24 The court noted that:
At bottom, the inquiry is an intensely factual, pragmatic one that
frequently requires courts to go outside the merits of the precise underlying
dispute and focus on the condition the fee claimant sought to change.
[Citation omitted.] With that condition as a benchmark the inquiry becomes
"whether as a practical matter the outcome, in whatever form realized,
is one to which the plaintiff fee claimant's efforts contributed in
a significant way, and which does involve an actual conferral of benefit
or relief from burden when measured against the benchmark condition."25
Using the same reasoning, the court in Leiserson v. City of San Diego
held that if the plaintiff could not present evidence of the motivation
for the city's change in its behavior two years after he filed his lawsuit,
the mere inference that the change was motivated by the lawsuit was not
sufficient to make the plaintiff a successful party under the private
attorney general fee statute.26 However, in Californians for Responsible
Toxics Management v. Kizer, the court followed federal precedent and stated
the following rule: "When action is taken by the defendant after plaintiff's
lawsuit is filed, the chronology of events may permit the inference that
the two events are causally related...."27 This inference shifts the burden
to the defendant to offer a rebuttal.28 No other cases have applied this
analysis to determine whether a party meets the causation requirement
under the catalyst theory.
There are only two cases in which the court of appeal has confirmed
trial court awards of private attorney general fees under the catalyst
theory.29 In the first, Wallace v. Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley,
Inc., the trial court awarded private attorney general fees to the plaintiff
organization that successfully challenged the validity of mandatory minimum
retail milk prices.30 After submitting several unsuccessful petitions
to the director of the Department of Food and Agriculture requesting that
he suspend the retail milk price regulations, the plaintiff decided to
challenge the legality of the regulation through litigation. Although
the DFA director obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary
injunction against the plaintiff, the court stated that the plaintiff
had "made a colorable showing that it will prevail at a trial on the merits...."31
The parties entered into settlement negotiations and ultimately settled
the case by having the director agree to hold public hearings on the issue
of the suspension of the minimum milk retail prices in exchange for the
plaintiff dropping its challenge to the statutory and administrative procedures
as moot. After this settlement was reached, the director issued orders
suspending the minimum retail milk prices. The trial court awarded private
attorney general fees to the plaintiff, and the court of appeal upheld
the award, on the grounds that "the litigation set in motion the process
which eventually resulted in the suspension."32
In the second case, California Common Cause v. Duffy, the plaintiffs
sought to stop the sheriff of San Diego County from distributing postcards
calling for the removal of Chief Justice Rose Bird because the sheriff's
action involved the illegal expenditure of public monies and public personnel
in political campaigning. At a hearing on an ex parte application for
a temporary restraining order, the trial judge encouraged the parties
to negotiate and, as a result, the sheriff agreed to cease distributing
the postcards. In turn, the plaintiffs proceeded to drop their application
for a temporary restraining order. The trial court later granted summary
judgment to the plaintiffs on their declaratory relief claim, finding
that the sheriff's activities were indeed an illegal expenditure of public
monies and personnel on political campaigning. Nevertheless, the trial
court denied injunctive relief because of the sheriff's agreement to cease
distributing the postcards. The trial court awarded private attorney general
fees to the plaintiffs, and the court of appeal upheld the award, on the
grounds that the plaintiffs had obtained the full relief they sought because
they obtained a declaration that the sheriff's activities were illegal
and they caused the sheriff to cease those activities. Thus, injunctive
relief was not necessary, and "the lawsuit was a material factor in halting
the ongoing distribution of anti-Bird postcards through the Sheriff's
In a case involving the catalyst theory that was decided after Wallace
and California Common Cause, the court of appeal held that the prevailing
defendant had established a right to private attorney general fees and
remanded for a determination of the amount.34 In City of Sacramento v.
Drew, the defendant, Charles Drew, prevailed on a summary judgment motion
in an action brought by the city of Sacramento to declare the validity
of a special tax assessment district. Before the lawsuit, Drew had sent
a letter of protest to the city claiming that the special tax assessment
district was unconstitutional. The city brought a validation proceeding
to determine whether the assessment was proper. Drew filed an answer as
an interested person and then prevailed on summary judgment.
But the trial court denied Drew's request for private attorney general
fees on the grounds that the special tax assessment "presumably" would
have been declared invalid regardless of Drew's participation, and Drew
"belatedly" raised the prevailing legal theory. The court of appeal reversed,
holding that Drew met the requirements for an award of private attorney
general fees, and remanded for the purpose of determining the amount of
These court of appeal decisions, coupled with the prior California Supreme
Court cases, failed to enunciate a general, predictable rule for awarding
private attorney general fees under the catalyst theory. Subsequently,
in 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court virtually abolished the catalyst theory
under federal private attorney general statutes.
In Buckhannon Board and Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department
of Health and Human Resources,35 the U.S. Supreme Court held that absent
a judgment on the merits or other "material alteration of the legal relationship
of the parties" (such as a consent decree), a party cannot be deemed a
prevailing party entitled to attorney's fees.36 The Supreme Court stated
that while a defendant's voluntary change in conduct may serve to accomplish
a plaintiff's litigation objectives, the defendant's action "lacks the
necessary judicial imprimatur" to support an award of attorney's fees.37
Given the fact that many of the California Supreme Court and Court of
Appeal cases regarding the catalyst theory were based upon federal precedent,
the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Buckhannon called into question the
continued validity of the catalyst theory under the California private
attorney general fee statute.
Balancing Competing Policies
Hence the importance of Graham v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation,38 in
which a split California Supreme Court affirmed the existence of the catalyst
theory under California law and further clarified the rule. In Graham,
DaimlerChrysler incorrectly marketed and overstated the towing capacity
of one of its 1998 and 1999 truck models. The reduced towing capacity
posed a potential risk to the drivers of the truck. By February 1999,
DaimlerChrysler established a response team to handle the problem and,
by June 1999, advised its customers of the misinformation and began to
formulate a plan of remedial measures. In July 1999, the Santa Cruz County
district attorney threatened legal action against DaimlerChrysler and
requested information from the corporation. In early August 1999, the
California attorney general joined the Santa Cruz County district attorney
in threatening legal action. The plaintiffs, who were purchasers of the
truck at issue, filed suit on August 23, 1999. In September 1999, DaimlerChrysler
issued an offer to repurchase or replace all of the affected trucks. Thereafter,
the trial court sustained DaimlerChrysler's demurrer without leave to
amend and dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint as moot. The parties continued
to litigate the plaintiffs' entitlement to fees, however, for more than
a year after the case was dismissed. The trial court held a lengthy evidentiary
hearing and then awarded attorney's fees, finding that the plaintiffs
were the successful parties under the private attorney general fee statute
and determining that the plaintiffs' lawsuit, rather than the threatened
legal action by the California attorney general and the Santa Cruz County
district attorney, caused DaimlerChrysler to issue its offer to repurchase
or replace the trucks. The court of appeal affirmed, noting the decision
in Buckhannon but declining to follow it. Instead, the court of appeal
stated that the catalyst theory has long been recognized in California.
The California Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal's decision
and in so doing upheld the catalyst theory despite the decision in Buckhannon.
The supreme court held that the term "prevailing party" under federal
statutes is different from the term "successful party" under the California
private attorney general fee statute. Moreover, the court rejected DaimlerChrysler's
policy argument that the catalyst theory engenders time-consuming fee
litigation. The court adopted a two-pronged test for determining whether
a party can be deemed a successful party under the catalyst theory. The
trial court must determine that 1) a causal connection exists between
the lawsuit and the relief obtained, and 2) the lawsuit is not "'frivolous,
unreasonable or groundless' [citation omitted], in other words that its
result was achieved 'by threat of victory, not by dint of nuisance and
threat of expense.'"39 According to the supreme court, a trial court can
make a decision whether the second prong is met in a manner akin to a
trial court's determination whether or not to issue a preliminary injunction.
Further, the court may reach its decision regarding the second prong by
relying on declarations or after an abbreviated evidentiary hearing.
In response to an amicus brief submitted by the California attorney
general, the Graham court also adopted another limitation on the catalyst
theory. The court held that a plaintiff seeking attorney's fees under
the catalyst theory must have made a reasonable attempt to settle the
matter before litigation, explaining that what constitutes a reasonable
attempt to settle will depend on the context and thus involves a fact-intensive
inquiry.40 The court of appeal found that the trial court had concluded
that there was a causal connection between the lawsuit and DaimlerChrysler's
change in policy. But the appellate court remanded the matter for a determination
regarding the merits of the suit and whether the plaintiffs had made a
reasonable attempt to settle the matter before filing a lawsuit.
The court appears to have reached its decision regarding these rules
by balancing two competing policies: 1) the policy of encouraging lawsuits
in the public interest, and 2) the policy of discouraging extortionate
lawsuits. Under the rules set forth in Graham, as well as the existing
rules for the application of the catalyst theory, attorneys considering
taking on a public interest lawsuit with the anticipation of recovering
attorney's fees will need to consider several issues in addition to the
elements set forth in Section 1021.5.
The first is prelitigation settlement discussions. Since the Graham
decision will require a case-by-case determination of the reasonableness
of prelitigation settlement discussions, attorneys will need to determine
how much time to allow for settlement discussions before filing a lawsuit.
Prior to Graham, in the cases in which private attorney general fees were
allowed, the settlement discussions ranged from nonexistent (or not discussed)41
to a letter of protest or request to cease unlawful activity42 to more
lengthy negotiations.43 If there is an urgent need for litigation to prevent
impending illegal action, one letter or telephone call may suffice. But
if no urgency exists, counsel should engage in serious settlement negotiations
before filing a lawsuit in order to preserve the right to private attorney
general fees under the catalyst theory.
Counsel taking on a case hoping to recover private attorney general
fees must also consider the ability to demonstrate the merits of the action.
The proof could include declarations and documentary evidence but may
also require testamentary evidence at an evidentiary hearing. If a case
is resolved quickly, before any discovery is taken, counsel may find it
difficult to present sufficient evidence. Although Graham does not specifically
authorize limited discovery to elicit the necessary evidence, a court
may allow it. The policy reasons that the Graham court enunciated in encouraging
public interest litigation as well as early settlement of disputes support
allowing limited discovery. The more prudent course, however, would be
to obtain the necessary documentary evidence during settlement discussions.
Although the decision in Graham affirmed the existence of the catalyst
theory in California and added some requirements, it did little to clarify
the rule regarding the often litigated issue of the causal connection
between the plaintiff's lawsuit and the relief obtained. Courts repeatedly
have denied recovery of private attorney general fees under the catalyst
theory when a causal factor other than the lawsuit--such as the legislative
process,44 administrative proceedings initiated by state agencies,45 or
another pending case46--influenced the change in the defendant's conduct,
or when the lawsuit was filed after some action had been initiated by
the defendant--such as after an agency began the process of promulgating
regulations or after a city commenced its consideration of whether to
amend an ordinance. With these precedents in mind, counsel considering
a lawsuit that could result in private attorney general fees should investigate
whether state agencies have already taken some action or whether the proposed
defendant has already begun to take corrective actions through internal
processes. Even if the proposed lawsuit would contribute to or hasten
such actions or processes, a court will likely not award private attorney
general fees.47 Thus, during the investigation of the potential lawsuit
and the prelitigation settlement negotiations, counsel should not only
look for evidence of the merits of the proposed lawsuit but also evidence
to prove the causal connection between the lawsuit and the defendant's
action, with a specific focus on the absence of other factors that could
be determined to be the catalyst.
Although Graham preserved the catalyst theory under California law,
the weight of the California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decisions
demonstrates that private attorney general fees are not easily obtained.
As the dissent in Graham observes, in those cases in which fees have been
allowed under the catalyst theory, there has been some "material alteration
of the legal relationship of the parties" or a "judicial imprimatur" as
required under Buckhannon.48 In addition, the numerous cases determining
that there was no causal connection between the lawsuit and the defendant's
change of conduct--even in circumstances in which the defendant's change
of conduct occurred after the lawsuit was filed--demonstrate a judicial
proclivity to avoid awarding private attorney general fees except in the
most compelling cases. Even though the decision in Graham has preserved
the catalyst theory, the decision likely will not result in a flood of
extortionate lawsuits (as the dissent in Graham fears), because before
attorneys seeking fees under the catalyst theory file suit, they must
not only conduct a careful evaluation of the merits of their cases but
also engage in serious settlement discussions. Thus, although the decision
in Graham upholds the policy of encouraging private enforcement of important
public rights, the new requirements under the catalyst theory, along with
the established case law regarding the necessary causal connection between
the lawsuit and the defendant's action, restrict the broad language contained
in the earlier California Supreme Court cases and substantially reduce
the number of situations in which private attorney general fees are recoverable.
SIDEBAR: De Novo Standard of Review
An important issue currently under review by the California Supreme Court
is under what circumstances an appellate court may apply a de novo standard
of review in determining whether an action was sufficient to justify an
award of attorney's fees under Code of Civil Procedure Section 1021.5,
the private attorney general fee statute.1
In Serrano v. Priest, the California Supreme Court noted that the "experienced
trial judge is the best judge of the value of the professional services
rendered in his court, and while his judgment is of course subject to
review, it will not be disturbed unless the appellate court is convinced
that it is clearly wrong."2 After the enactment of Section 1021.5, the
California Court of Appeal took this language from Serrano-which clearly
applied only to the adequacy of fees to be awarded under Section 1021.5-and,
without any discussion, simply asserted that abuse of discretion was the
standard of review with respect to all the statutory prerequisites for
the award of fees under Section 1021.5.3
The supreme court has followed suit, repeating the conclusion of the
court of appeal, without much commentary, that the standard of review
governing Section 1021.5 attorney fee entitlement is abuse of discretion.4
Yet, in each of the cases in which the supreme court has done so, it has
essentially conducted a de novo review of the trial court's decision by
affording no deference to the trial court. In addition, further confusion
has ensued over court of appeal decisions stating that "[d]etermining
the statutory basis for an attorney fee award is a legal question subject
to de novo review."5
The Ninth Circuit applies a de novo standard of review on issues of law
and a party's entitlement to fees under 42 USC Section 1988 and employs
an abuse of discretion standard of review regarding the adequacy of fees.6
Both Code of Civil Procedure Section 1021.5 and 42 USC Section 1988 are
codifications of the common law private attorney general doctrine. Furthermore,
because "[t]he Legislature relied heavily on federal precedent when enacting
[Section 1021.5]…California courts often look to federal decisions when
The threshold issue of whether a case has resulted in the enforcement
of an important right affecting the public interest should be subject
to de novo review. Many reviewing courts, including the California Supreme
Court, have explicitly applied a de novo standard-and they have used the
language of abuse of discretion while actually conducting a de facto de
novo analysis based upon the trial court's legal errors.8 In addition,
a de novo standard of review would be consistent with the de novo review
of the legal basis for other statutory fee awards.9
A de novo standard of review better serves a host of public policies:
The encouragement of the private enforcement of important rights
affecting the public interest.
Uniformity and predictability in judicial decision making.
Judicial efficiency and quality.
Whether an important right has been vindicated and whether a significant
benefit has been conferred require determinations regarding public policy.
Given the benefit of appellate collegiality and plurality as well as the
time and opportunity for more thoughtful debate on appeal, appellate judges
are better suited to make these determinations than are trial judges.
Private litigants and lawyers will be discouraged from enforcing important
rights affecting the public interest if they cannot discern some reasonable
level of certainty that Section 1021.5 fees will be awarded. That certainty
is best promoted by de novo review. Allowing appellate judges to make
judgments regarding Section 1021.5 fees will promote statewide consistency
in the interpretation and application of law and avoid inconsistent trial
judge determinations as to which rights can be deemed important.-D.M.D.
1 Department of Conservation v. El Dorado County, California Supreme
Court Case No. S116870, review granted, Aug. 13, 2003, request for briefing
on issue of standard of review ordered, Sept. 15, 2004.
2 Serrano v. Priest, 20 Cal. 3d 25, 49 (1977).
3 See, e.g., Brentwood Ass'n for No Drilling, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles,
134 Cal. App. 3d 491, 507 (1982).
4 Baggett v. Gates, 32 Cal. 3d 128, 142-43 (1982); Westside Cmty. for
Indep. Living, Inc. v. Obledo, 33 Cal. 3d 348, 369 (1983); Press v.
Lucky Stores, Inc., 34 Cal. 3d 311 (1983); Maria P. v. Riles, 43 Cal.
3d 1281 (1987).
5 Downen's, Inc. v. City of Hawaiian Gardens Redev. Agency, 86 Cal.
App. 4th 856, 860 (2001). See also Akins v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co.,
79 Cal. App. 4th 1127, 1132-33 (2000); Honey Baked Hams, Inc. v. Dickens,
37 Cal. App. 4th 421, 424 (1995).
6 See, e.g., Watson v. County of Riverside, 300 F. 3d 1092, 1095 (9th
Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 538 U.S. 923 (2003); Cabrales v. County of
Los Angeles, 935 F. 2d 1050, 1052 (9th Cir. 1991).
7 Westside, 33 Cal. 3d at 352 n.5.
8 See, e.g., Pacific Legal Found. v. California Coastal Comm'n, 33 Cal.
3d 158, 167 (1982); Baggett, 32 Cal. 3d at 143; Hull v. Rossi, 13 Cal.
App. 4th 1763, 1768 (1993); City of Sacramento v. Drew, 207 Cal. App.
3d 1287, 1298 (1989).
9 See, e.g., Sessions Payroll Mgmt., Inc. v. Nobel Constr. Co., 84 Cal.
App. 4th 671, 677 (2000) (Civ. Code §1717); see also Carver v. Chevron
U.S.A., Inc., 97 Cal. App. 4th 132, 142 (2002); Bussey v. Affleck, 225
Cal. App. 3d 1162, 1165 (Code Civ. Proc. §1033.5(a)(10)).
Endnotes to main text
1 The California Supreme Court first enunciated the private attorney
general fee doctrine in 1977. Serrano v. Priest, 20 Cal. 3d 25 (1977).
That same year, after Serrano, the California Legislature enacted Code
of Civil Procedure §1021.5 to codify the doctrine and its underlying
policy. The purpose of the private attorney general doctrine is to encourage
suits enforcing strong public policies that benefit a large class of
people by awarding attorney's fees to the successful party. Woodland
Hills Residents Ass'n v. City Council, 23 Cal. 3d 917, 933 (1979).
2 7 Witkin, California Procedure, Judgment §§230-240A (4th ed. 1997
3 Code Civ. Proc. §1021.5.
4 Graham v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 34 Cal. 4th 553 (2004).
5 Westside Cmty. for Indep. Living, Inc. v. Obledo, 33 Cal. 3d 348,
6 Id. (quoting Robinson v. Kimbrough, 652 F. 2d 458, 465 (5th Cir. 1981)).
7 Id. at 352.
8 Id. at 350.
9 Id. at 354-56.
11 Folsom v. Butte County Ass'n of Gov'ts, 32 Cal. 3d 668 (1982).
12 Id. at 685 (quoting Woodland Hills Residents Ass'n v. City Council,
23 Cal. 3d 917, 938 (1979)).
14 Id. at 685-86.
15 Id. at 685 n.31 (citing F&M Schaefer Corp. v. C. Schmidt & Sons,
Inc., 476 F. Supp. 203, 206-07 (S.D. N.Y. 1979)).
16 Press v. Lucky Stores, Inc., 34 Cal. 3d 311 (1983); Maria P. v. Riles,
43 Cal. 3d 1281 (1987).
17 Press, 34 Cal. 3d at 315-16, 321.
18 Maria P., 43 Cal. 3d at 1287.
19 Id. at 1288.
20 Id. at 1292-93.
21 See, e.g., Boccato v. City of Hermosa Beach, 158 Cal. App. 3d 804
(1984); Miller v. California Comm'n on the Status of Women, 176 Cal.
App. 3d 454 (1985); Crawford v. Board of Educ., 200 Cal. App. 3d 1397
(1988); Leiserson v. City of San Diego, 202 Cal. App. 3d 725 (1988);
Californians for Responsible Toxics Mgmt. v. Kizer, 211 Cal. App. 3d
961 (1989); Urbaniak v. Newton, 19 Cal. App. 4th 1837 (1993); Olsen
v. Breeze, Inc., 48 Cal. App. 4th 608 (1996); Suter v. City of Lafayette,
57 Cal. App. 4th 1109 (1997); Meister v. The Regents of the Univ. of
Cal., 67 Cal. App. 4th 437 (1998); Schmier v. Supreme Court, 96 Cal.
App. 4th 873 (2002); Baxter v. Salutary Sportsclubs, Inc., 122 Cal.
App. 4th 941 (2004).
22 Boccato, 158 Cal. App. 3d at 811-12.
23 Crawford, 200 Cal. App. 3d at 1407-08.
24 Id. at 1408.
25 Id. at 1407 (quoting Folsom v. Butte County Ass'n of Gov'ts, 32 Cal.
3d 668, 685 (1982)).
26 Leiserson, 202 Cal. App. 3d at 736-37.
27 Californians for Responsible Toxics Mgmt. v. Kizer, 211 Cal. App.
3d 961, 968 (1989).
29 Wallace v. Consumers Coop. of Berkeley, Inc., 170 Cal. App. 3d 836
(1985); California Common Cause v. Duffy, 200 Cal. App. 3d 730 (1987).
30 Wallace, 170 Cal. App. 3d at 841-42.
31 Id. at 844.
32 Id. at 846.
33 California Common Cause, 200 Cal. App. 3d at 744.
34 City of Sacramento v. Drew, 207 Cal. App. 3d 1287 (1989).
35 Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Dep't of Health
& Human Res., 532 U.S. 598, 121 S. Ct. 1835, 149 L. Ed. 2d 855 (2001).
36 Id., 532 U.S. at 604-05.
38 Graham v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 34 Cal. 4th 553 (2004). In response
to a request from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a clarification
of California law regarding the catalyst theory, the California Supreme
Court also issued an opinion on the same day it issued Graham in a companion
case. Tipton-Whittingham v. City of Los Angeles, 34 Cal. 4th 604 (2004).
39 Graham, 34 Cal. 4th at 575 (quoting Buckhannon, 532 U.S. at 628 (dissent
by Ginsburg, J.)).
40 Id. at 577.
41 Woodland Hills Residents Ass'n v. City Council, 23 Cal. 3d 917 (1979);
Press v. Lucky Stores, Inc., 34 Cal. 3d 311 (1983); Maria P. v. Riles,
43 Cal. 3d 1281 (1987); Folsom v. Butte County Ass'n of Gov'ts, 32 Cal.
3d 668 (1982).
42 City of Sacramento v. Drew, 207 Cal. App. 3d 1287, 1292 (1989) (letter
of protest sent to city, then city filed validation action); California
Common Cause v. Duffy, 200 Cal. App. 3d 730, 739 (1987) (request to
cease unlawful activity made four days before suit was filed).
43 Wallace v. Consumers Coop. of Berkeley, Inc., 170 Cal. App. 3d 836,
840 (1985) (several petitions submitted to director of the Department
of Food and Agriculture).
44 Crawford v. Board of Educ., 200 Cal. App. 3d 1397 (1988).
45 Boccato v. City of Hermosa Beach, 158 Cal. App. 3d 804 (1984).
46 Olsen v. Breeze, Inc., 48 Cal. App. 4th 608 (1996).
47 Meister v. The Regents of the Univ. of Cal., 67 Cal. App. 4th 437
48 Graham v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 34 Cal. 4th 553, 592-93 (2004).