A memorandum of costs in California is the topic of this blog post. This blog post will briefly discuss claiming prejudgment costs through the filing and service of a memorandum of costs.
A memorandum of costs must be verified by the party or their attorney and must be served and filed within a specified deadline. However I do want to emphasize that the circumstances of each case are unique and the actual deadline for any particular case depends on a variety of factors which will be discussed below.
The deadline to file and serve is set forth in California Rule of Court 3.1700(a)(1) which states in pertinent part that, “A prevailing party who claims costs must serve and file a memorandum of costs within 15 days after the date of mailing of the notice of entry of judgment or dismissal by the clerk under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.5 or the date of service of written notice of entry of judgment or dismissal, or within 180 days after entry of judgment, whichever is first.”
Code of Civil Procedure § 664.5 states that,
“(a) In any contested action or special proceeding other than a small claims action or an action or proceeding in which a prevailing party is not represented by counsel, the party submitting an order or judgment for entry shall prepare and mail a copy of the notice of entry of judgment to all parties who have appeared in the action or proceeding and shall file with the court the original notice of entry of judgment together with the proof of service by mail. This subdivision does not apply in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, or for legal separation.
(b) Promptly upon entry of judgment in a contested action or special proceeding in which a prevailing party is not represented by counsel, the clerk of the court shall mail notice of entry of judgment to all parties who have appeared in the action or special proceeding and shall execute a certificate of such mailing and place it in the court’s file in the cause.
(c) For purposes of this section, “judgment” includes any judgment, decree, or signed order from which an appeal lies.
(d) Upon order of the court in any action or special proceeding, the clerk shall mail notice of entry of any judgment or ruling, whether or not appealable.
(e) The Judicial Council shall, by January 1, 1999, adopt a rule of court for the purposes of providing that, upon entry of judgment in a contested action or special proceeding in which a state statute or regulation has been declared unconstitutional by the court, the Attorney General is promptly notified of the judgment and that a certificate of that mailing is placed in the court’s file in the cause.”
However I also want to point out that for a clerk’s notice of entry of judgment to trigger the 15-day deadline it must comply with Code of Civil Procedure § 664.5. In some cases a clerk will simply mail a file-stamped copy of the judgment with something attached known as a “Certificate of Mailing” which does not satisfy the “service pursuant to court order” requirement of subdivision of Code of Civil Procedure § 664.5 and as a result fails to start the 15-day clock as has been stated by the California Supreme Court in at least two cases.
Attorneys or parties in California should carefully review any notice of entry of judgment served by the clerk to determine whether or not the clerk has served a notice of entry of judgment that fully complies with the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure § 664.5 including a statement that document mailed by the clerk is being given upon “order of the court” or “under section 664.5. If the clerk fails to do so and no other party serves and files a notice of entry of judgment the deadline to file and serve a memorandum of costs is 180 days after entry of judgment.
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