We recently posted a blog about California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) section 998 offers with the help of Martha Klak—a very talented, bright star of a law clerk at our office.
See that blog post here, titled “If I dismiss Defendant from my civil case, am I liable for Defendant’s CCP 998 costs?”
Well, the case law continues to develop in this area, as we see from the 10/26/22 filed decision Council for Education and Research v. Starbucks, from the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4, California. Cited right now as 2022 WL 15136422.
This decision discusses whether a Plaintiff can be liable for CCP 998 costs if that Defendant is removed from the case by way of a summary judgment motion (as the Defendant was here).
In general, if Defense serves a CCP 998 offer to settle on Plaintiff, and if the Parties do not settle, then Plaintiff must “obtain a more favorable judgment or award” against that Defendant, lest that Plaintiff be potentially liable for paying that Defendant’s CCP 998 costs. See CCP 989(c)(1).
This Council for Education case gets more into the weeds of what are reasonable settlement terms per a CCP 998 offer…and I’m staying out of that discussion for now. But raises the issue of what can happen to a Plaintiff should a Defendant serve a 998 against that Plaintiff, and if the Defendant is released by way of a motion for summary judgment (as the Defendant was released in this case).
These can be important things to understand and advise clients about if/when a Defendant serves a 998 upon a Plaintiff.