California Civil Code Section 1794 Case Law

In Murillo v. Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. (1998) the purchasers of a motor home sued the sellers under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. They rejected the sellers' pretrial settlement offer. After trial, the court entered judgment for the sellers and awarded them costs under Code of Civil Procedure sections 1032, subdivision (b) and 998. The buyers appealed, arguing Civil Code section 1794, subdivision (d), which authorizes a prevailing buyer to recover costs but contains no comparable provision for a prevailing seller, precluded the sellers from relying on the above mentioned statutes to recover their costs. The Supreme Court affirmed. "Because section 1032(b) grants a prevailing party the right to recover costs 'except as otherwise expressly provided by statute', we must first determine whether Civil Code section 1794(d) provides an 'express' exception. Although Civil Code section 1794(d) gives a prevailing buyer the right to recover 'costs and expenses, including attorney's fees,' the statute makes no mention of prevailing sellers. In other words, it does not expressly disallow recovery of costs by prevailing sellers; any suggestion that prevailing sellers are prohibited from recovering their costs is at most implied. Accordingly, based on the plain meaning of the words of the statutes in question, we conclude Civil Code section 1794(d) does not provide an 'express' exception to the general rule permitting a seller, as a prevailing party, to recover its costs under section 1032(b)." (Murillo v. Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc., supra, 17 Cal. 4th at p. 991.)