Technical Challenges To Fee Award Did Not Work.
In Vilela v. Rodriguez, Case No. B262442 (2d Dist., Div. 6 June 22, 2016) (unpublished), plaintiff lost a case against various defendants on both torts and a declaratory relief count, with a fees clause in a subscription agreement broadly covering fees “in defending against an action” brought by a plaintiff. Based on this broad provision, the lower court awarded the defendants $239,825 in attorney’s fees.
This stood up on appeal, despite numerous challenges except for a transparent reduction of $4,400 more than defendants even requested for fees.
Plaintiff challenged the fee request was filed 60 days after the notice of entry of judgment, but the lower court did not abuse its discretion by granting a CCP § 473 motion when counsel incorrectly calendared by adding, inappropriately, 5 additional days for mailing.
Next, plaintiff argued that the causes of action sounded in tort, but the problem was plaintiff really was seeking to pursue rights under the subscription agreement and the fees clause clearly encompassed the declaratory relief action, including a defense of any legal action brought by a plaintiff.
No excessive fees were sought, because the fees were “within the realm of reason” and block billing was neither chronic nor deceptive in nature.