Education Code Section 44944(f)(2) Was At Issue.
In Walent v. Commission on Prof. Competence of the LAUSD, Case No. B266265 (2d Dist., Div. 7 Feb. 21, 2017) (unpublished), petitioner successfully challenged her dismissal from employment from the L.A. Unified School District. Education Code section 44944(f)(2) allowed her to seek “reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the employee” from the LAUSD based on her win. The trial court awarded petitioner $199,817 in attorney’s fees based on a lodestar analysis, even though she would have recovered less if the contingency fee arrangement with her attorney prevailed.
LAUSD argued that the contingency fee agreement did create a cap on appeal, but that argument was rejected. Case law interpreting this statute holds that the employee does not have to actually pay or become obligated to pay the fees at issue; the statute could have qualified that the fees had to be “actually incurred,” but this language was not present. The use of the lodestar was proper, resulting in affirmance of the fee award.