Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries, No. S030179

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtMOSK; LUCAS
Citation863 P.2d 179,6 Cal.4th 644,25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109
Parties, 863 P.2d 179 Colleen LAKIN, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. WATKINS ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES et al., Defendants and Respondents.
Docket NumberNo. S030179
Decision Date16 December 1993

Page 109

25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109
6 Cal.4th 644, 863 P.2d 179
Colleen LAKIN, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
WATKINS ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES et al., Defendants and Respondents.
No. S030179.
Supreme Court of California.
Dec. 16, 1993.

Page 111

[6 Cal.4th 648] [863 P.2d 181] R. Stevens Condie, Oakland, for plaintiff and appellant.

Parker, Stanbury, Babcock, Combs & Bergsten, Douglass H. Mori and Michael E. McCabe, Los Angeles, for defendants and respondents.

MOSK, Justice.

We granted review to decide three issues. First, we must determine whether a postjudgment order denying an award of attorney fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 2033, subdivision (o ), is appealable. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that it is. Second, we must [6 Cal.4th 649] determine where the burden of proof lies when a plaintiff in a personal injury case claims prejudgment interest, under Civil Code section 3291 on a judgment more favorable than her offer to compromise under Code of Civil Procedure section 998, subdivision (b). As will appear, we conclude the plaintiff has the burden of proving what portion of the total award represents damages for personal injury; we further conclude that plaintiff herein has not yet had the opportunity to carry this burden. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeal on these issues holding to the contrary will be reversed. Finally, we must determine whether prejudgment interest under Civil Code section 3291 may be awarded on punitive damages. We conclude that it may not.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

At the scene of an accident in which a truck that defendant driver was operating on behalf of defendant trucking company hit plaintiff's car, the driver identified himself falsely to plaintiff and gave her false insurance information. Later, a company official denied the accident had occurred and accused plaintiff of fabricating her claim. She sued for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2033, plaintiff requested that defendants admit a collision had occurred between their truck and her car. They replied that they had insufficient facts to admit or deny the truth of the request. More than two years before trial, plaintiff made an offer to compromise to the company under Code of Civil Procedure section 998, subdivision (b), in the amount of $89,000. The company did not accept.

At trial plaintiff proved that the company's own dispatch records placed the truck driver at the scene of the accident on the day in question and that the company had conducted an internal investigation at the time of the accident--two years before her request for admission--and had concluded the collision had in fact occurred. The jury found for plaintiff, awarding her a total of $100,000 against the company, including both compensatory and punitive damages.

Page 112

[863 P.2d 182] After entry of judgment plaintiff moved for an award of attorney fees incurred in proving facts that defendants had refused to admit--specifically, the fact of the collision. (Code Civ.Proc., § 2033, subd. (o ).) She also moved for an award of prejudgment interest on the ground that the amount of her pretrial offer to compromise was less than the eventual judgment. (Civ.Code, § 3291.)

[6 Cal.4th 650] The court denied both motions. It ruled that plaintiff could not receive attorney fees because she had presented evidence of such fees in the context of her prayer for punitive damages; it concluded the jury intended the punitive award to include reimbursement for such fees. It further ruled that plaintiff could not receive prejudgment interest because she did not demand such interest in her complaint.

Plaintiff appealed from this postjudgment order. Insofar as the order denied attorney fees, the Court of Appeal held it was nonappealable and dismissed that portion of her appeal. Insofar as the order denied prejudgment interest, the Court of Appeal held that Civil Code section 3291 does not require a plaintiff to demand prejudgment interest in the complaint, but nevertheless affirmed the denial of prejudgment interest, reasoning that plaintiff failed to prove the damages were awarded exclusively for personal injury.

II. ATTORNEY FEES

Plaintiff first contends a postjudgment order granting or denying attorney fees is appealable. Code of Civil Procedure section 2033, subdivision (o ), provides in relevant part: "If a party fails to admit the ... truth of any matter when requested to do so under this section, and if the party requesting that admission thereafter proves the ... truth of that matter, the party requesting the admission may move the court for an order requiring the party to whom the request was directed to pay the reasonable expenses incurred in making that proof, including reasonable attorney's fees." The statute mandates that the court "shall" make such an order unless (1) an objection to the request was sustained or a response was waived, (2) the admission was of no substantial importance, (3) the party failing to make the admission reasonably expected to prevail on the matter, or (4) there was other good reason for the failure to admit. (Ibid.)

The trial court denied plaintiff's motion for attorney fees, not because of any of the four statutory exceptions but because of concern that an award of attorney fees would constitute double recovery. 1 The Court of Appeal did not reach the merits of this ruling; it concluded that the order denying attorney fees was not appealable as a postjudgment order. (See Code Civ.Proc., § 904.1, subd. (b).)

[6 Cal.4th 651] Code of Civil Procedure section 904.1, subdivision (b) provides that an order made after an appealable judgment is itself appealable. 2 As this court long ago explained, " 'The necessity for this ... provision is apparent, when it is considered that an appeal from the judgment would only bring up the record of the proceedings resulting in the rendition of the judgment, and that such an appeal may have been taken, and even disposed of here, by affirmance or reversal, before the order complained of was made in the Court below; so that while an appeal from a judgment might in some instances be safely relied upon for the review of an order entered before its rendition, it would afford no reliable remedy against such an order only entered subsequently to its rendition.' " (Calderwood v. Peyser (1871), 42 Cal. 110, 116, italics in original.)

Page 113

[863 P.2d 183] Despite the inclusive language of Code of Civil Procedure section 904.1, subdivision (b), not every postjudgment order that follows a final appealable judgment is appealable. To be appealable, a postjudgment order must satisfy two additional requirements. 3 The Court of Appeal concluded that an order in the nature of a denial of attorney fees did not satisfy one of those requirements, and thus that appeal from the order was precluded. We conclude otherwise.

The first requirement--not discussed by the Court of Appeal--is that the issues raised by the appeal from the order must be different from those arising from an appeal from the judgment. (See Rooney v. Vermont Investment Corp. (1973) 10 Cal.3d 351, 110 Cal.Rptr. 353, 515 P.2d 297.) "The reason for this general rule is that to allow the appeal from [an order raising the same issues as those raised by the judgment] would have the effect of allowing two appeals from the same ruling and might in some cases permit circumvention of the time limitations for appealing from the judgment." (Id. at p. 358, 110 Cal.Rptr. 353, 515 P.2d 297.) In the present case, an appeal from the order denying attorney fees pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2033, subdivision (o ), plainly raises issues different from those arising from the judgment itself. Thus, this requirement is satisfied.

The second requirement--which the Court of Appeal found dispositive--is that "the order must either affect the judgment or relate to it by [6 Cal.4th 652] enforcing it or staying its execution." (Olson v. Cory (1983) 35 Cal.3d 390, 400, 197 Cal.Rptr. 843, 673 P.2d 720.) Under this rule, a postjudgment order that does "not affect the judgment or relate to its enforcement [is] not appealable...." (Ibid.) The Court of Appeal reasoned that the order here in issue did not affect the judgment or relate to its enforcement because it "leaves the judgment intact and neither adds to it nor subtracts from it." (Redevelopment Agency v. Goodman (1975) 53 Cal.App.3d 424, 429, 125 Cal.Rptr. 818.) This reasoning, however, is incomplete.

The rule that an appealable postjudgment order must affect the judgment or relate to its enforcement has existed for more than a century. In Griess v. State Investment Etc. Co. (1892) 93 Cal. 411, 413, 28 P. 1041, we held that a postjudgment order denying a motion to amend the minutes of the court was not appealable because "[i]t in no manner affected the judgment or bore any relation to it, either by way of enforcing it or staying its operation, nor did it concern any pending motion in the case itself. It was only the determination of the court that its minutes did not require correction, and the action of a court of record in such a matter is not subject to review by the ordinary process of appeal."

In the ensuing years we determined the appealability of a variety of postjudgment orders. It is instructive to review those we have held did not affect the judgment or relate to its enforcement, and hence were not appealable. All are orders that, although following an earlier judgment, are more accurately understood as being preliminary to a later judgment, at which time they will become ripe for appeal.

For example, we held not appealable a posttrial order excusing a plaintiff's failure to present a bill of exceptions for settlement before making a motion for a new trial; it would become appealable as part of an appeal from the later motion for a new trial. (Kaltschmidt v. Weber (1902) 136...

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511 practice notes
  • Miller v. Department of Corrections, No. S114097.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • July 18, 2005
    ...distinct forms of harassment but "poles of a continuum"], disapproved on another point in Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 664, 25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, 863 P.2d 7. The policy statement was issued in 1990 by the EEOC and specifies that it was approved by Clarence Thom......
  • Howard v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., Nos. A121569, A123187.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 23, 2010
    ...period—in other words, to make the plaintiff whole as of the date of the injury." ( Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 663, 25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, 863 P.2d 179.) Under section 3287(a), "the court has no discretion, but must award prejudgment interest upon request, fro......
  • Ferguson v. Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, No. S104444.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • June 9, 2003
    ...are not intended to make the plaintiff whole by compensating for a loss suffered." (Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 664, 25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, 863 P.2d 179.) "An award of punitive damages, though perhaps justified for societal reasons of deterrence, is a boon for ......
  • Kelly v. Cb&I Constructors, Inc., No. B205735.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 19, 2009
    ...Inc. (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 976, 997 [16 Cal.Rptr.2d 787], disapproved on another ground in Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 664 [25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, 863 P.2d 179]), they are of little value in determining whether the damages awarded in this case were reasonable. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
512 cases
  • Miller v. Department of Corrections, No. S114097.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • July 18, 2005
    ...distinct forms of harassment but "poles of a continuum"], disapproved on another point in Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 664, 25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, 863 P.2d 7. The policy statement was issued in 1990 by the EEOC and specifies that it was approved by Clarence Thom......
  • Howard v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., Nos. A121569, A123187.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 23, 2010
    ...period—in other words, to make the plaintiff whole as of the date of the injury." ( Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 663, 25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, 863 P.2d 179.) Under section 3287(a), "the court has no discretion, but must award prejudgment interest upon request, fro......
  • Ferguson v. Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, No. S104444.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • June 9, 2003
    ...are not intended to make the plaintiff whole by compensating for a loss suffered." (Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 664, 25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, 863 P.2d 179.) "An award of punitive damages, though perhaps justified for societal reasons of deterrence, is a boon for ......
  • Kelly v. Cb&I Constructors, Inc., No. B205735.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 19, 2009
    ...Inc. (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 976, 997 [16 Cal.Rptr.2d 787], disapproved on another ground in Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 664 [25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, 863 P.2d 179]), they are of little value in determining whether the damages awarded in this case were reasonable. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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