Appellate Court Issues Mandate in Favor of Attorney Over $300,000 Labor Code Fee Award.
The Second District, Division 3, in Henry M. Lee Law Corp. v. Superior Court (Chang), Case No. B235305 (2d Dist., Div. 3 Apr. 16, 2012) (certified for publication), decided that a $300,000 fee award under Labor Code wage/hour/itemized wage statement fee-shifting provisions should be made payable to the attorney, not the client, in the absence of the fee agreement dictating otherwise. In doing so, the appellate panel applied the reasoning from Flannery v. Prentice, 26 Cal.4th 572, 578-581 (2001), a FEHA case. It issued mandate to vacate an order denying attorney’s motion to make the recovery payable to his law corporation.
BLOG UNDERVIEW--Interestingly enough, there are some federal cases that take the opposite approach in the social security disability benefits and civil forfeiture areas--holding that the fee recovery belongs to the client rather than the attorney. (See, e.g., Astrue v. Ratliff, 130 S.Ct. 2521 (2010) [discussed in our June 16, 2010 post] (social security disability case); U.S.A. v. $186,416.00 U.S. Currency, 642 F.3d 753 [discussed in our April 26, 2011 post] (Astrue applied in a 2-1 decision in the civil forfeiture area).)