L.A. Municipal Code And Statutory Inhabitability Breach Fee-Shifting Statute Were The Bases.
Above: Library of Congress. Snodgrass common household roaches. Public domain.
In Vaughn v. Darwish, Case No. B252762 (2d Dist., Div. 2 July 6, 2016) (unpublished), tenants won a harassment case against landlord, among other things involving the use of cockroach foggers in tenants’ units. Plaintiff tenants won compensatory awards ranging from $36,600-43,400, plus punitive damages for each plaintiff to the tune of $916,666.07 (although the punitive damages were remitted downwards quite a lot for each plaintiff). However, based on fee-shifting provisions in the L.A. Municipal Code and Civil Code section 1942.4(b)(2), a statutory inhabitability breach provision, tenants also garnered a total $845,351.25 attorney’s fees recovery.
The fee recovery stood on appeal by landlord. The $500 hourly rate charged was found reasonable, a 1.5 multiplier to the lodestar was justified based on the contingent risk to the case, and the amount of fees was reasonable given that the defense “fought tooth and nail” throughout the case.
Library of Congress. c1870 – 1890.