Shames v. Utility Consumers’ Action Network, 2017 WL 2807920 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017)

Michael Shames filed this lawsuit against the Utility Consumers’ Action Network (“UCAN”), alleging various causes of action stemming from the termination of his employment. Although his amended complaint alleged UCAN’s breach of contract for its failure to pay him multiple bonus payments, Shames did not seek attorney’s fees under that cause of action. (Shames had sought attorney’s fees under two other causes of action on which he did not prevail.) The trial court granted Shames $2,000 in attorney’s fees, but it denied him the fees he incurred “for the entire litigation” because he failed to seek fees under the specific causes of action on which he had prevailed: “[Labor Code] section 218.5… clearly places a very specific requirement on a party who seeks an award of attorney fees in such an action – i.e., to demonstrate that one of the parties to the action requested those fees ‘upon the initiation of the action.'” The Court of Appeal affirmed.