Golf West of Kentucky, Inc. v. Life Investors, Inc – Case Brief Summary (California)

In Golf West of Kentucky, Inc. v. Life Investors, Inc. (1986) 178 Cal.App.3d 313, superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Cooper v. Westbrook Torrey Hills (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 1294, 1299-1300, the court allocated an appellate cost judgment between two plaintiffs who had sued the defendant under individual franchise agreements and consolidated their cases for trial. (Golf West, at pp. 317-318.)

The court rejected the argument the plaintiffs should be found jointly and severally liable for costs, noting there would have been no question of joint and several liability had they not chosen to join their cases.

In that case, two franchisees filed separate actions against a franchisor.

Their actions were consolidated and verdicts entered on behalf of both plaintiffs were reversed on appeal.

On remand, the defendant sought appellate costs related to an appeal bond. Plaintiffs moved to tax costs.

The trial court apportioned the defense's appellate costs between the two plaintiffs, based upon their respective verdicts which were reversed.

The issue in Golf West was the applicability of former California Rules of Court, rule 26 governing costs on appeal, and section 995.250, added in 1982, addressing the recovery of costs related to bonds and undertakings.

The case did not involve section 1032. Despite these significant distinctions, plaintiffs rely upon the affirmance of the trial court apportionment of costs relating to the surety bond between the plaintiffs.

Golf West concluded that the rationale of Avalos v. Welty (1965) 237 Cal. App. 2d 545, was equally applicable to the case before it. "Golf West and Will could have prosecuted their actions separately. Neither had any interest in the recovery of the other. The trial court thus properly apportioned the costs between them." (Golf West of Kentucky, Inc. v. Life Investors, Inc., supra, 178 Cal. App. 3d at p. 318.)

The Golf West court also concluded that the basis of the apportionment was rational. "Golf West and Will were to pay the cost of the bond premium in proportion to their respective judgments. As a result, each party's share of the costs reflected the amount of the premium that Life Investors was forced to incur in appealing from the judgment of each." (Ibid.)

One other consideration guided the result in Golf West. "To impose joint and several liability on litigants who elect to consolidate their actions is to penalize parties for promoting judicial economy. There is no reason in logic or law to place litigants in a position of having to choose between prosecuting their actions individually, or consolidating their claims and potentially being held jointly and severally liable for costs, which may amount to a substantial sum." (Id. at pp. 318-319.)