Here is the remainder of our top 20 decisions for 2015. Look for an upcoming post on 2015 Cases Pending For Review.
10. Novak v. Dana Tietler Trust/Kay, 236 Cal.App.4th 329 (2d Dist., Div. 5 April 28, 2015)—authored by Presiding Justice Turner; discussed in our Apr. 30, 2015 post: Attorney with broad contractual attorney’s lien language in retainer agreement with deceased client, a pretermitted spouse with an interest in a separate trust with assets, is entitled to enforce lien without filing creditor’s claim or without instituting Probate Code section 9391 action to foreclose the lien.
9. James L. Harris Printing & Decorating, Inc. v. West Bay Builders, Inc., 239 Cal.App.4th 1214 (3d Dist. Aug. 27, 2015)—authored by Justice Hoch; discussed in our Aug. 30, 2015 post: Lower court has discretion to determine if either side was a prevailing party for purposes of California’s construction prompt payment statutes.
8. Kaass Law v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 799 F.3d 1290 (9th Cir. Aug. 27, 2015)—authored by Circuit Judge M.D. Smith; discussed in our Aug. 27, 2015 post: 28 U.S.C. § 1927 sanctions cannot be imposed broadly against law firms, but can only be imposed against individual transgressing attorneys.
7. Summit Media LLC v. City of Los Angeles, 240 Cal.App.4th 171 (2d Dist., Div. 8 Sept. 8, 2015)—authored by Justice Grimes; discussed in our Sept. 9, 2015 post: California’s settlement privilege did not bar admission of settlement offer by plaintiff to assess financial interest factor of CCP § 1021.5, California’s private attorney general statute.
6. Dorsey v. Superior Court, 241 Cal.App.4th 583 (4th Dist., Div. 1 Oct. 22, 2015)—authored by Acting Presiding Justice Nares; discussed in our Oct. 25, 2015 post: CCP § 116.780(c) does cap attorney’s fees for winning small claims plaintiff at $150, trumping a broader contractual fees clause arguably allowing for a larger recovery.
5. Sharif v. Mehusa, Inc., 241 Cal.App.4th 185 (2d Dist., Div. 5 Oct. 14, 2015)—authored by Justice Mosk; discussed in our Oct. 14, 2015 post: “Dueling” fee-shifting statutes can be offset against each other as far as fee award to different prevailing parties on individual claims, and defense is entitled to cost recovery under Labor Code § 218.5 without being subject to additional cost recovery limitations.
4. 511 S. Park View, Inc. v. Tsantis, 240 Cal.App.4th Supp. 44 (L.A. Superior Court App. Div. Oct. 5, 2015)—authored by Judge Ricciardulli; discussed in our Oct. 10, 2015 post: Contractual cap of $750 for fee recovery, contained in a written fees clause, is valid and does not contravene the policies of Civil Code § 1717.
3. Roos v. Honeywell International and Rogers, 241 Cal.App.4th 1472 (1st Dist., Div. 1 Nov. 11, 2015)—authored by Presiding Justice Humes; discussed in our Nov. 13, 2015 post: 37.5% common fund fee award was justified based on capped percentage-of-recovery standard in class action case, given that the fee award was appropriate when cross-checked by lodestar analysis showing a lower recovery.
2. U.S.A. v. $28,000.00 in U.S. Currency (Moser), 802 F.3d 1100 (9th Cir. Oct. 6, 2015)
--authored by Circuit Judge Hurwitz [majority decision] and concurring opinion by Circuit Judge Reinhardt; discussed in our Oct. 10, 2015 post: District court in Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act case which substantially reduced fee request was reversed based upon its reliance on inapt practice area hourly rates, upon its discounts for plaintiff’s attorneys not delegating tasks to associates given that only small firms prosecuted these type of cases, and upon its use of stale prior fee awards involving fee claimant’s attorneys.
1. Kerkeles v. City of San Jose, 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 1132 (6th Dist. Dec. 18, 2015)—authored by Justice Elia; discussed in our Dec. 20, 2015 post: 80% reduced civil rights fee award under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 reversed because trial court did not adequate justify the substantial reduction in its fee award order, relying on Ninth Circuit decisions in reversing fee award and mandating a more reasoned explanation of substantial “haircuts.”