Harman v. City and County of San Francisco, 158 Cal. App. 4th 407 (2007)

This case, which was originally filed in federal court in 1999, involved allegations of race and sex discrimination by Allen Harman and two other white males who were employed as airfield safety officers at the San Francisco International Airport. After the case went to trial, a jury awarded Harman $15,300 as damages for economic harm and another $15,000 for emotional distress. The trial court subsequently awarded Harman attorney’s fees in the amount of $1.1 million. The Court of Appeal affirmed the award of substantially all of the attorney’s fees that were awarded by the trial court notwithstanding the relatively small amount of the underlying judgment. Cf. Engle v. Copenbarger & Copenbarger, 157 Cal. App. 4th 165 (2007) (former legal assistant who accepted law firm’s offer to compromise sexual harassment claims pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. § 998 was entitled to recover her attorney’s fees on top of the settlement amount that was offered – because the offer failed expressly to exclude fees and costs).