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Senate Bill 654 (Dills 1986)

Chapter 377, Statutes of 1986, SB 654

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Sections in the Civil Code and Code of Civil Procedure relating to litigation costs were affected in 1986 following legislative approval of Senate Bill 654.  (See Exhibit #1j)  Senator Ralph C. Dills introduced Senate Bill 654 on February 28, 1985 on behalf of the California Judges’ Association.  (See Exhibits #1a and #3)  Support for the measure was received from the State Bar of California and the Attorney General’s Office.  (See Exhibits #3 and #7)

 

While in the Legislature, the measure was heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Appropriations.  (See Exhibits #2 and #3) On the Assembly side, the measure was before the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means.  (See Exhibits #9 and #11)  Subsequent to legislative passage, Senate Bill 654 was approved by Governor George Deukmejian and was recorded by the Secretary of State as Chapter 377 of the Statutes of 1986.  (See Exhibits #1j and #2)

 

The Assembly Third Reading analysis of Senate Bill 654 provides the following digest of the bill as it was last amended on July 8, 1986:

 

This bill revises the law relating to the recovery of allowable costs in civil cases.  Specifically, it:

 

1)         States that, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute, a prevailing party is entitled as a matter of right to recover costs in any civil action or proceeding.

 

2)         Defines “prevailing party” to include the party with a net monetary recovery, a defendant in whose favor a dismissal is entered, a defendant where no party obtains relief, and a defendant against whom no plaintiff recovers any relief.  It provides that when any party recovers other than monetary relief, the ”prevailing party” shall be determined by the court, which then may discretionarily allow costs.

 

3)         Repeals statutory provisions relating to the procedure for claiming, contesting and awarding costs and instead requires the Judicial Council to adopt rules specifying the procedure for claiming and contesting costs.

 

4)         Specifies which costs are and which costs are not allowable.  Both such lists are essentially restatements of existing law, and to a large extent are codifications of case law.  Items which are not specified in either list may be allowed or denied in the court’s discretion.

 

5)         Makes conforming changes in the law relating to the award of attorneys’ fees in contract actions by revising the definition of “prevailing party.”

 

6)         Makes various other technical and conforming changes.

(See Exhibit #13c, pages 1 and 2)