This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/13/2021 at 00:04:41 (UTC).

DANIEL KNIGHT VS CONSUELO DURAN, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 06/29/2018 DANIEL KNIGHT filed a Civil Right - Other Civil Right lawsuit against CONSUELO DURAN. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is GEORGINA T. RIZK. The case status is Other.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******8043

  • Filing Date:

    06/29/2018

  • Case Status:

    Other

  • Case Type:

    Civil Right - Other Civil Right

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

GEORGINA T. RIZK

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

KNIGHT DANIEL

Defendants

DURAN ARTURO

Los Angeles, CA 90057

DURAN CONSUELO

Los Angeles, CA 90057

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

MEHRBAN MORSE

15720 Ventura Blvd Ste 228

Encino, CA 91436

 

Court Documents

Minute Order - Minute Order (Non-Jury Trial)

12/27/2019: Minute Order - Minute Order (Non-Jury Trial)

Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Ruling on Submitted Matter) of 01/07/2020

1/7/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Ruling on Submitted Matter) of 01/07/2020

Minute Order - Minute Order (Ruling on Submitted Matter)

1/7/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Ruling on Submitted Matter)

Motion for Attorney Fees - Motion for Attorney Fees

1/14/2020: Motion for Attorney Fees - Motion for Attorney Fees

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees)

8/4/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees)

Notice of Rejection - Post Judgment - Notice of Rejection - Post Judgment

9/9/2020: Notice of Rejection - Post Judgment - Notice of Rejection - Post Judgment

Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court) - Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court)

9/25/2020: Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court) - Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court)

Abstract of Judgment - Civil and Small Claims - Abstract of Judgment - Civil and Small Claims

10/7/2020: Abstract of Judgment - Civil and Small Claims - Abstract of Judgment - Civil and Small Claims

Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information - Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

9/25/2019: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information - Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

9/5/2018: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Answer

8/29/2018: Answer

Answer

8/29/2018: Answer

Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court)

8/29/2018: Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court)

Summons - on Complaint

6/29/2018: Summons - on Complaint

Civil Case Cover Sheet

6/29/2018: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

6/29/2018: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

13 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 10/07/2020
  • DocketAbstract of Judgment - Civil and Small Claims; Issued by: Daniel Knight (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/25/2020
  • DocketOrder on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court); Filed by: Clerk; As to: Daniel Knight (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/09/2020
  • DocketNotice of Rejection - Post Judgment; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 09/04/2020
  • DocketUpdated -- Judgment: As To Parties changed from Arturo Duran (Defendant), Consuelo Duran (Defendant) to Consuelo Duran (Defendant), Arturo Duran (Defendant)

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  • 08/25/2020
  • DocketJudgment; Filed by: Daniel Knight (Plaintiff); As to: Consuelo Duran (Defendant); Arturo Duran (Defendant)

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  • 08/25/2020
  • DocketUpdated -- Judgment: Status changed from Filed to Signed and Filed

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  • 08/25/2020
  • DocketUpdated -- Judgment amended on 08/25/2020 ; Attorney Fees: 2,010.00 ; Costs: 320.00 ; Status Date changed from 01/07/2020 to 08/25/2020 ; Status changed from Not Entered (pending submission of proposed judgment) to Amended

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  • 08/06/2020
  • DocketNon-Appearance Case Review re lodging of proposed judgment scheduled for 08/21/2020 at 02:00 PM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 Not Held - Vacated by Court on 08/06/2020

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  • 08/04/2020
  • DocketNon-Appearance Case Review re lodging of proposed judgment scheduled for 08/21/2020 at 02:00 PM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26

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  • 08/04/2020
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees)

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22 More Docket Entries
  • 07/02/2018
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause - Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 07/02/2021 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 07/02/2018
  • DocketUpdated -- Request to Waive Court Fees: Result: Granted

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  • 07/02/2018
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Georgina T. Rizk in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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  • 07/02/2018
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 12/27/2019 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 06/29/2018
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 06/29/2018
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Clerk

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  • 06/29/2018
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Daniel Knight (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/29/2018
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by: Daniel Knight (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/29/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Daniel Knight (Plaintiff); As to: Consuelo Duran (Defendant); Arturo Duran (Defendant)

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  • 06/29/2018
  • DocketOrder on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court); Filed by: Clerk; As to: Daniel Knight (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 18STLC08043    Hearing Date: August 04, 2020    Dept: 26

Knight v. Duran, et al.

MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS

(CCP §§ 1032, 1033.5; Civil Code §§ 51, 52, 54.3, 55)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff Daniel Knight’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is GRANTED IN THE AMOUNT OF $2,010.00.

ANALYSIS:

Plaintiff Daniel Knight (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for violation of Cal. Civil Code section 51 against Defendants Consuelo Duran and Aurturo Duran (“Defendants”) on June 29, 2018. Defendants answered on August 29, 2018. The matter came for trial on December 27, 2019. When Defendants failed to appear for trial, the court took the matter under submission. On January 7, 2020, the Court entered judgment in Plaintiff’s favor. Plaintiff timely filed the instant motion for attorneys’ fees on January 14, 2020. (See Cal. Rules of Court, Rules 3.1702; 8.822.) Plaintiff moves for attorneys’ fees pursuant to Civil Code section 52, subdivision (a).

Discussion

Civil Code section 52 provides for recovery of attorneys’ fees to a prevailing plaintiff in an action brought under that statute. It is undisputed that Plaintiff is the prevailing party in this action, as the party in whose favor judgment was entered following trial on August 12, 2019. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1032, subd. (a)(4).) Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to recover attorneys’ fees for the prosecution of this action. (Morcos v. Board of Retirement (1990) 51 Cal.3d 924, 927 (holding that contractual or statutory authorization for the recovery of attorneys’ fees includes authorization for recovery of attorneys’ fees incurred on appeal.)

The fee setting inquiry in California ordinarily begins with the “lodestar” method, i.e., the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate. A computation of time spent on a case and the reasonable value of that time is fundamental to a determination of an appropriate attorneys’ fee award. The lodestar figure may then be adjusted, based on consideration of factors specific to the case, in order to fix the fee at the fair market value for the legal services provided. (Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 49.) Such an approach anchors the trial court’s analysis to an objective determination of the value of the attorney’s services, ensuring that the amount awarded is not arbitrary. (Id., at p. 48, fn. 23.) After the trial court has performed the lodestar calculations, it shall consider whether the total award so calculated under all of the circumstances of the case is more than a reasonable amount and, if so, shall reduce the section 1717 award so that it is a reasonable figure. (PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095-1096.)

As explained in Graciano v. Robinson Ford Sales, Inc. (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 140, 154:

“[T]he lodestar is the basic fee for comparable legal services in the community; it may be adjusted by the court based on factors including, as relevant herein, (1) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, (2) the skill displayed in presenting them, (3) the extent to which the nature of the litigation precluded other employment by the attorneys, (4) the contingent nature of the fee award. [Citation.] The purpose of such adjustment is to fix a fee at the fair market value for the particular action. In effect, the court determines, retrospectively, whether the litigation involved a contingent risk or required extraordinary legal skill justifying augmentation of the unadorned lodestar in order to approximate the fair market rate for such services. . . . This approach anchors the trial court's analysis to an objective determination of the value of the attorney's services, ensuring that the amount awarded is not arbitrary.” [Internal citations and internal quotation marks omitted.]

(Graciano v. Robinson Ford Sales, Inc. (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 140.) “It is well established that the determination of what constitutes reasonable attorney fees is committed to the discretion of the trial court, whose decision cannot be reversed in the absence of an abuse of discretion. [Citations.] The value of legal services performed in a case is a matter in which the trial court has its own expertise. . . . The trial court makes its determination after consideration of a number of factors, including the nature of the litigation, its difficulty, the amount involved, the skill required in its handling, the skill employed, the attention given, the success or failure, and other circumstances in the case. [Citations.]” (Melnyk v. Robledo (1976) 64 Cal.App.3d 618, 623-624.)

No specific findings reflecting the court’s calculations are required. The record need only show that the attorney fees were awarded according to the “lodestar” or “touchstone” approach. The court’s focus in evaluating the facts should be to provide a fee award reasonably designed to completely compensate attorneys for the services provided, and the starting point for this determination is the attorney’s time records. (Horsford v. Board of Trustees of Calif. State Univ. (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 359, 395-397 [verified time records entitled to credence absent clear indication they are erroneous].) However, California case law permits fee awards in the absence of detailed time sheets. (Sommers v. Erb (1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 1644, 1651; Dunk v. Ford Motor Co. (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1794, 1810; Nightingale v. Hyundai Motor America (1994) 31 Cal.App.4th 99, 103.) An experienced trial judge is in a position to assess the value of the professional services rendered in his or her court. (Id.; Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 49; Wershba v. Apple Computer, Inc. (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 224, 255.)

Plaintiff’s attorney, Morse Mehrban, provides a breakdown of the time spent on this action, which includes initial research, drafting the Complaint, preparing for and attending trial, and preparing for and attending the instant motion for attorneys’ fees. (Motion, Mehrban Decl., ¶3.) In total, Plaintiff’s attorney states he billed 6.7 hours on this action. (Ibid.) The Court finds this to be reasonable given the case was filed more than two years ago, was initially opposed by Defendants and proceeded to trial.

Plaintiff’s counsel also submits a declaration stating that he has been practicing since 1993 and bills at $475.00 an hour. (Id. at ¶5.) The court finds this hourly rate to be excessive. While it is true that Plaintiff’s attorney has more than 25 years of experience as an attorney, he offers no evidence other than his own conclusory declaration that such a rate is “consistent with those of other attorneys with similar experience, both nationally and in Southern California.” (Ibid.) Furthermore, in limited jurisdiction cases the rate of other attorneys is typically lower given the simplicity of the issues and the lower value of the cases. Here, Plaintiff prosecuted the action against pro per Defendants who did not appear for trial. Nor does Plaintiff point to any unusual legal or factual questions in the action that would warrant such a high hourly rate.

“ ‘[A] reasonable hourly rate is the product of a multiplicity of factors .... the level of skill necessary, time limitations, the amount to be obtained in the litigation, the attorney’s reputation, and the undesirability of the case.’ ” (Mountjoy v. Bank of America, N.A. (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 266, 272 (citing Margolin v. Regional Planning Com. (1982) 134 Cal.App.3d 999, 1003-1004).) Plaintiff, in providing evidence only as to the years of experience of his attorney, has not addressed all the factors that go into a determination of the hourly rate. Without evidence of these other facts, Plaintiff has not demonstrated the reasonableness of awarding $475.00 per hour for this case. The Court finds, therefore, that the reasonable hourly rate in this matter is $300.00. Based on the reasonable foregoing rate ($300.00) and number of hours billed (6.7), Plaintiff is entitled to recover $2,010.00 in attorneys’ fees against Defendants. Plaintiff Daniel Knight’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is GRANTED IN THE AMOUNT OF $2,010.00.

Moving party to give notice.