Later Order Fixing Fees Allowed Appellate Jurisdiction on the Merits; However, Detailed Billing Records Were Not Needed to Substantiate Fee Request.
In Susott v. Auld-Susott, Case No. H037066 (Jan. 3, 2013) (unpublished), plaintiff lost a SLAPP motion and the trial court awarded defendant $20,000 in mandatory fees out of a requested $31,976.74. Plaintiff appealed the SLAPP grant even though the fee award was entered later.
The appellate court affirmed.
The first issue was appellate jurisdiction. However, the reviewing court found that the order appealed from did leave the fixing of the fee award to a later time so that the appeal of the earlier order encompassed the later fee “fixing.” (R.P. Richards, Inc. v. Chartered Constr. Corp., 83 Cal.App.4th 146, 158 (2000).) That took it to the merits.
The amount awarded was no abuse of discretion given that the trial court sliced it well over a third when compared to the requested fee amount.
Defense counsel, in moving for fees, did not have to produce detailed billings records given that the verified time statements by an attorney will suffice for substantiation. (City of Colton v. Singletary, 206 Cal.App.4th 751, 784-785 (2012) [discussed in our June 1, 2012 post]; Bernardi v. County of Monterey, 167 Cal.App.4th 1379, 1398 (2008) [discussed in our October 1, 2008 post].)