Here is the second installment of our top 20 decisions.
Attorney’s fees are awardable to a prevailing defendant under Civil Code § 55 without the necessity of showing a plaintiff’s action was “frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless,” disagreeing with Ninth Circuit’s Hubbard decision. This has been accepted for review by the California Supreme Court and is not published anymore, but available for reading in the California Reporter or research databases.
Contingency fee agreement-driven case with an attorney charging lien is not subject to the disclosure/consent requirements of Fletcher v. Davis, 33 Cal.4th 61, 71-72 (2004).
Litigant’s personal pecuniary interests may not be used to disqualify the litigant from obtaining fees under California’s private attorney general statute (CCP § 1021.5); rather, the deciding court must focus on the financial burdens and incentives involved in bringing the lawsuit.
Defendant successfully obtaining dismissal of action based on forum non conveniens is a prevailing party under Civil Code section 1717, extending the reasoning from Profits Concepts Mgt., Inc. v. Griffith, 162 Cal.App.4th 950 (2008) (an earlier case determining that a defendant successfully moving to quash service for lack of personal jurisdiction is a prevailing party, authored by Justice Fybel of the 4th Dist., Div. 3).
Contractual clause in retainer agreement allows attorney parties to recover for their efforts in collecting fees against clients, avoiding application of the Trope bar.
Although refusing to articulate a bright-line rule, F.R.Civ. P. 23(h) does not contemplate that class members’ objections to class counsel fee requests have to be filed before the fee motion itself is filed, which denies the class the full and fair opportunity to examine and oppose the motion.
Costs of proof sanctions for failure to admit requests for admissions under Code of Civil Procedure § 2033.420(a) can only be assessed against a party, not the party’s counsel.
3. Thrifty Payless, Inc. v. Mariners Mile Gateway, LLC, 185 Cal.App.4th 1050 (4th Dist., Div. 3 2010) -- authored by Justice Moore; discussed in our June 23, 2010 post.
Expert witness fees awardable under contract clause can be recovered under routine costs memorandum approach, disagreeing with Carwash’s approach that the fees must be pled and proven at trial.
Extensive discussion of factors that are probative in gauging the reasonableness of fees requested in probate trust litigation involving multiple attorneys, billings with duplicative entries, litigation inefficiencies, and block billing time entries.
Trial courts have discretion to deny or reduce fee requests to winning plaintiffs in FEHA cases where a plaintiff’s success is minimal or there is a grossly inflated fee request.