Yesterday's Recorder had an article on a case to be argued today in the California Supreme Court addressing whether expert witness fees, in addition to attorneys' fees, are recoverable under the private attorney general doctrine of Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5. Mike McKee, "Private AGs Watching Fate of Expert Fees" (Jan. 8, 2007) (subscription).
The case in which this issue has been raised is Olson v. Automobile Club of Southern California, no. S143999. The Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Two) held that section 1021.5 did not authorize recovery of expert witness fees:
Only one reported decision, Beasley v. Wells Fargo Bank (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 1407, 1421 [1 Cal.Rptr.2d 459] (Beasley), permits the award of expert witness fees under section 1021.5 for experts not ordered by the court. We disagree with Beasley, as its conclusion is contrary to the plain statutory language and legislative intent, and its reasoning is unpersuasive.
Olson v. Automobile Club of Southern California, 139 Cal.App.4th 552 (2006) (review granted 07/26/06).