Denial of Writ of Certiorari Leaves Court of Appeal Opinion – and Fee Award -- Intact.
On June 23, 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States denied the petition for writ of certiorari for San Francisco v Harman, Allen. ---S.Ct.---, 2008 WL 1955817 (U.S. Cal.), 76 USLW 3611.
In Allen Harman v. City and County of San Francisco, 158 Cal.App.4th 407 (2007) (First District, Division 1), the Court of Appeal held that the trial court could award over $1.1 million in fees in a civil rights case, where compensatory damages came to $30,300. The opinion provides a thorough lodestar analysis in a civil rights case. (Allen Harman, a white male airport employee, claimed that he had been subjected to illegal discrimination in his employment.)
The Court of Appeal opinion emphasizes the importance of a detailed record below, and of the trial judge’s exercise of discretion. “In conclusion,” wrote Justice Swager, “we borrow from Justice Powell’s observations in his concurring opinion in Riverside: ‘On its face, the fee award seems unreasonable. But [we] find no basis for this Court to reject the findings made and approved by the [court] below.’ . . . . Although we may have exercised our discretion differently, we ‘cannot conclude that the detailed findings made by the [trial court], . . . were clearly erroneous, or that the [trial court] abused its discretion in making this fee award.’”
Hat tip to Mr. Harman’s attorney, Paul J. Beard II of the Pacific Legal Foundation, for bringing this news to our attention.