Nothing Demonstrated Agreement Was Protected By Mediation Privilege And Failure To Object To Particular Entries Waived Any Real Challenge To Reasonableness Of Claimed Fees.
Although there was some initial confusion on whether defendants wanted to enforce a settlement agreement with a “prevailing parties” fees clause, it looks like defendants took the plunge and then sought $48,072 in fees for efforts to enforce the settlement agreement. The trial judge had granted summary judgment to the defense as far as enforcing the settlement agreement, subsequently granting the defendants’ request for most of claimed fees to the tune of $47,604.50 in Baldwin v. Funk Shui, LLC, Case No. B272450 (2d Dist., Div. 1 June 1, 2018) (unpublished).
Plaintiff’s challenge to the fee award did not succeed.
Plaintiff argued that the settlement agreement was inadmissible under the mediation privilege, but that did not resonate because the written agreement was reached nine days after the conclusion of the mediation. With respect to the amount of fees awarded, plaintiff argued that unconscionable fee factors had to be considered, but the appellate court found that Rule of Professional Conduct 4-200 only applied to members of the State Bar but not to actual parties to the settlement agreement. The redacted billings by the defense did not prevent an evaluation of the merits of the motion. Plaintiff also failed to challenge any particular entry such that he failed to satisfy his burden as far as challenging the reasonableness of the claimed fees.