$313,000 Fee Award Affirmed on Appeal.
Nonprofit interests won a mandate proceeding requiring the City of Redondo Beach to put a local coastal progress amendment to a public vote. Plaintiffs then requested an attorney’s fees award of $354,978.12 under California’s private attorney general statute (CCP § 1021.5), which included a .25 multiplier. City opposed, arguing that the total fees should not exceed $128,729.33. The trial court awarded fees of $313,000, discounting plaintiffs’ pre-court litigation expenses.
City did not get any further reduction of the fee award on appeal in Building a Better Redondo v. City of Redondo Beach, Case No. B226499 (2d Dist., Div. 8 Jan. 25, 2012) (unpublished).
After all, the substantiation of the fees was good--attorney declarations and national law journal billing surveys showing that $500-550 partner rates, $200-250 associate rates, and $125 paralegal rates were justified. However, the main premise rejected was that public interest attorneys should be compensated at a lower rate than that for private practitioners in the same community--no way under governing precedent. (Serrano v. Unruh, 32 Cal.3d 621, 642 (1982).)
BLOG UNDERVIEW--We reported on this Measure G dispute in our November 9, 2010 post when the fee award originally came down. The City decided to appeal way back then. So, here is the result!