HOA Counsel Did Good Job Of Apportioning Fees As Far As Reasonableness Of Amount.
The attorney for the prevailing homeowners association (HOA) did something very smart in Bryan Ranch Homeowners Assn. v. Lawrence, Case No. A147659 (1st Dist., Div. 1 Sept. 16, 2016) (unpublished), which we will now describe.
There, a homeowner and HOA were embroiled in a 14-year conflict involving compliance with HOA’s CC&Rs. The parties reached a settlement agreement, but clashed for nine more of those 14 years. The lower court, among other things, awarded HOA $25,614 in attorney’s fees and $190 in costs for HOA post-judgment efforts to enforce the judgment. Homeowner’s appeal of this award was unsuccessful.
Although arguing Civil Code section 1717 did not allow for such an award, homeowner ignored the fact that the settlement agreement had an express provision allowing for post-judgment enforcement fee recovery based on the judgment entered as a result of the settlement. With respect to the argument that HOA was not the prevailing party, this was foreclosed by the lack of an appeal of this aspect of the original judgment.
Finally, that takes us to the smart move by HOA’s counsel. That attorney only asked for about half of what was billed to HOA during the epic dispute, asking only for time spent on post-judgment enforcement efforts. The appellate court, as did the lower court, found this fully supported the reasonableness of the requested fees by HOA.