A typical lease has this clause: The loser pays all attorney fees and costs connecting to the lawsuit. In this case small claims lawsuit. What if the plaintiff dismisses the case? is that considered losing? Can the defendant landlord recover costs and attorney fees relating to the small claims case? If yes what is a reasonable amount? What is the limit?
A party that withdraws a case is not automatically bound to pay the other party anything. They’ve just stopped fighting. There are circumstances when one can recover legal costs in small claims, but they are relatively rare and limited in scope. Have you asked your attorney about this?
For the future, make sure your lease has a mediation provision (not arbitration). The California Association of Realtors lease is a good form to check out.
If the case is withdrawn that is at their choice and there is not finding of fact on the matter. If no judgement has been rendered than you would not be liable under the language as stipulated.
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