Hoffman v. Superior Ready Mix Concrete, L.P.Annotate this Case
Plaintiff Lynda Hoffman owned 28 acres of land, a portion of which is used to grow plants for an intended nursery. The property was adjacent to a 211-acre rock quarry (the quarry) owned by National Quarries Enterprises LLC and operated by Superior Ready Mix Concrete L.P. (together SRM). After Hoffman prevailed in a trespass action against SRM, the trial court awarded her costs as the prevailing party and attorney fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.9. SRM appealed, contending Hoffman was not entitled to attorney fees under section 1021.9 because SRM did not trespass onto the areas of land where she was actually growing nursery plants. Alternatively, SRM argued the trial court abused its discretion by awarding Hoffman $289,153.75 in attorney fees because the award was: (1) not apportioned between her successful fee and unsuccessful non-fee causes of action; and (2) not reduced to reflect her limited success at trial. SRM also argued the trial court abused its discretion by finding that SRM's section 998 offer was invalid and less favorable than Hoffman's trial result. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court correctly interpreted section 1021.9 and properly awarded Hoffman her attorney fees as the prevailing plaintiff in this trespass action. The Court rejected SRM's arguments that the trial court erred when it failed to apportion or reduce Hoffman's attorney fees award. As SRM conceded, these decisions mooted its argument regarding the validity of its section 998 argument.