On 06/18/2019 IGLESIAS DE RESTAURACIN FILIAL SOUTH BAY filed a Property - Commercial Eviction lawsuit against HEART TO HEART CARE MINISTRY ORGANIZATION. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is DOUGLAS W. STERN. The case status is Other.
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
DOUGLAS W. STERN
IGLESIAS DE RESTAURACIN FILIAL SOUTH BAY
RODRIGUEZ RAYMOND AKA RAY RODRIGUEZ
HEART TO HEART CARE MINISTRY ORGANIZATION
GOODFRIEND MARK EUGENE
VAN ANTWERP L. WALKER
10/16/2019: Judgment - Unlawful Detainer - Judgment - Unlawful Detainer
10/2/2019: Minute Order - Minute Order (Court Order)
10/2/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Court Order) of 10/02/2019
9/27/2019: Minute Order - Minute Order (Non-Jury Trial)
9/19/2019: Answer - Answer
9/5/2019: Answer - Answer amended answer
9/11/2019: Notice of Unlawful Detainer Trial - Notice of Unlawful Detainer Trial
8/16/2019: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment - Request for Entry of Default / Judgment
8/28/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service) of 08/28/2019
8/28/2019: Minute Order - Minute Order (Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service)
6/18/2019: Complaint - Complaint
6/18/2019: Property Owner/Landlord Only Hearing Notice - Property Owner/Landlord Only Hearing Notice
6/18/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case
6/18/2019: Summons - Summons on Complaint
6/21/2019: Notice of Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) - Notice of Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) (Does 1-10)
6/21/2019: Notice of Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) - Notice of Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) (Raymond aka Ray Rodriguez)
7/22/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Court Order) of 07/22/2019
7/25/2019: Amended Complaint - Amended Complaint
DocketCourt orders judgment entered for Plaintiff Iglesias de Restauracin Filial South Bay against Defendant Heart to Heart Care Ministry Organization and Defendant Raymond Rodriguez AKA Ray Rodriguez on the Amended Complaint (1st) filed by Iglesias de Restauracin Filial South Bay on 07/25/2019 for holdover damages $36,800.00 and other $2,453.28 for a total of $39,253.28. Cost to be determined per filing of Memorandum of Costs.; Judgment for possession is granted against all unnamed occupants pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 415.46.; Restitution and possession of the premises located at 522-524 Avalon Boulevard, Wilmington, CA 90744 is granted for plaintiff(s);; The Rental Agreement under which the property is held is hereby cancelled.; Lease Agreement under which the property is held is hereby forfeited.Read MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order (Court Order)Read MoreRead Less
DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Court Order) of 10/16/2019; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketJudgment - Unlawful Detainer; Filed by: Iglesias de Restauracin Filial South Bay (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketBrief Post-Trial Closing Brief; Filed by: Iglesias de Restauracin Filial South Bay (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order (Court Order)Read MoreRead Less
DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Court Order) of 10/02/2019; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketOn the Court's own motion, Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute, Failure to File Proof of Service, and why Sanctions in the amount of $250.00 on each party and counsel for failure to appear on 8/28/19 scheduled for 10/08/2019 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 31 Not Held - Advanced and Vacated on 10/02/2019Read MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order (Non-Jury Trial)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 09/27/2019 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 31 updated: Result Date to 09/27/2019; Result Type to HeldRead MoreRead Less
DocketAddress for Mark Eugene Goodfriend (Attorney) updatedRead MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Unlawful Detainer mailed 06/21/2019Read MoreRead Less
DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 08/28/2019 at 08:30 AM in Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse at Civil Clerk's OfficeRead MoreRead Less
DocketCase assigned to Hon. Douglas W. Stern in Department S13 Governor George Deukmejian CourthouseRead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by: Iglesias de Restauracin Filial South Bay (Plaintiff); As to: Heart to Heart Care Ministry Organization (Defendant); Raymond aka Ray Rodriguez (Defendant); Does 1-10 (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice Notice of Related Case; Filed by: Iglesias de Restauracin Filial South Bay (Plaintiff); As to: Heart to Heart Care Ministry Organization (Defendant); Raymond aka Ray Rodriguez (Defendant); Does 1-10 (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Iglesias de Restauracin Filial South Bay (Plaintiff); As to: Heart to Heart Care Ministry Organization (Defendant); Raymond aka Ray Rodriguez (Defendant); Does 1-10 (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Iglesias de Restauracin Filial South Bay (Plaintiff); As to: Heart to Heart Care Ministry Organization (Defendant); Raymond aka Ray Rodriguez (Defendant); Does 1-10 (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketProperty Owner/Landlord Only Hearing Notice; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: 19LBUD01369 Hearing Date: December 30, 2019 Dept: 31
MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES IS GRANTED.
On June 18, 2019, Plaintiff Iglesias de Restauracion Filial South Bay filed the instant Unlawful Detainer action against Defendants Heart to Heart Care Ministry Organization; Raymond Rodriguez aka Ray Rodriguez; and Does 1 to 10. On July 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”).
The matter proceeded to a bench trial on September 27, 2019 and concluded the same day. On October 16, 2019, the Court held that “[j]udgment is for Plaintiff and against Defendant for (1) immediate possession of the premises against Defendant, and all tenants and subtenants or occupants; and (2) damages in the amount of $36,800, plus $153.33 per day to the day of judgment. Plaintiff shall be awarded costs pursuant to a duly filed Memorandum of Costs. Any claim for attorneys’ fees must be made by noticed motioned.” (October 16, 2019 Court Order.)
Attorneys’ fees are allowed as costs when authorized by contract, statute, or law. (Code Civ. Proc, § 1033.5, subd. (a)(10)(B).)
The attorney bears the burden of proof as to “reasonableness” of any fee claim. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1033.5(c)(5).) This burden requires competent evidence as to the nature and value of the services rendered. (Martino v. Denevi (1986) 182 Cal.App.3d 553, 559.) “Testimony of an attorney as to the number of hours worked on a particular case is sufficient evidence to support an award of attorney fees, even in the absence of detailed time records.” (Id.)
A plaintiff’s verified billing invoices are prima facie evidence that the costs, expenses, and services listed were necessarily incurred. (See Hadley v. Krepel (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 677, 682.) “In challenging attorney fees as excessive because too many hours of work are claimed, it is the burden of the challenging party to point to the specific items challenged, with a sufficient argument and citations to the evidence. General arguments that fees claimed are excessive, duplicative, or unrelated do not suffice.” (Lunada Biomedical v. Nunez (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 459, 488, quoting Premier Med. Mgmt. Sys., Inc. v. California Ins. Guarantee Ass’n (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 550, 564.)
Plaintiff seeks attorneys’ fees in the amount of $13,642.50 plus reasonable additional fees in an estimated sum of approximately $2,625.00 for bringing and appearing on this motion.
Contract Provision & Prevailing Party
Civil Code section 1717 provides:
In any action on a contract, where the contract specifically provides that attorney’s fees and costs, which are incurred to enforce that contract, shall be awarded either to one of the parties or to the prevailing party, then the party who is determined to be the party prevailing on the contract, whether he or she is the party specified in the contract or not, shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees in addition to other costs. . . . Reasonable attorney’s fees shall be fixed by the court, and shall be an element of the costs of suit. . . .
(1) The court, upon notice and motion by a party, shall determine who is the party prevailing on the contract for purposes of this section, whether or not the suit proceeds to final judgment. Except as provided in paragraph (2), the party prevailing on the contract shall be the party who recovered a greater relief in the action on the contract. The court may also determine that there is no party prevailing on the contract for purposes of this section.
(2) Where an action has been voluntarily dismissed or dismissed pursuant to a settlement of the case, there shall be no prevailing party for purposes of this section. . . .
(Civil Code § 1717(a)-(b).)
“California courts “liberally construe ‘on a contract’ to extend to any action ‘[a]s long as an action “involves” a contract and one of the parties would be entitled to recover attorney fees under the contract if that party prevails in its lawsuit . . .’ [Citation.]” (California Wholesale Material Supply, Inc. v. Norm Wilson & Sons, Inc. (2002) 96 Cal.App.4th 598, 605.)
Plaintiff argues that it is entitled to recovery of its attorneys’ fees pursuant to the contract attached as Exhibit 1 to the FAC. The contract provides that “if Lessor files an action to enforce any agreement contained in this Lease Agreement, or for breach of any covenant of condition, Lessee shall pay Lessor reasonable attorney’s fees for the service of Lessor’s attorneys in [the] action, all fees to be fixed by the court.” (Goodfriend Decl., Exh. 3, ¶ 17.) Plaintiff asserts that as the prevailing party, having obtained a judgment in its favor, it is entitled to attorneys’ fees under the contract.
The Court finds that Plaintiff is the prevailing party and is entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees.
“The reasonable hourly rate is that prevailing in the community for similar work.” (PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095.) “The experienced trial judge is the best judge of the value of professional services rendered in [her] court.” (Ibid.)
Plaintiff seeks to recover attorneys’ fees for 2 different attorneys who worked on the case. Plaintiff argues that attorney Mark Goodfriend’s standard hourly rate is $400, but charged a reasonable discounted rate of $375 in this case4. (Goodfriend Decl. ¶ 4.) The other attorney Plaintiff seeks to recover fees for charges a rate of $150 per hour. (Goodfriend Decl. ¶ 4.) For each attorney, attorney Mark Goodfriend attests to their legal experience and the reasonableness of their rates. (Goodfriend Decl. ¶ 2, 4.)
The Court finds that the hourly rates requested by Plaintiff are reasonable and commensurate with rates charged by attorneys with comparable skill and expertise.
Reasonably Incurred Hours and Costs
“A trial court assessing attorney fees begins with a touchstone or lodestar figure, based on the ‘careful compilation of the time spent and reasonable hourly compensation of each attorney ... involved in the presentation of the case.” (Christian Research Institute v. Alnor (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 1315, 1321.) “The reasonableness of attorney fees is within the discretion of the trial court, to be determined from a consideration of such factors as the nature of the litigation, the complexity of the issues, the experience and expertise of counsel and the amount of time involved. The court may also consider whether the amount requested is based upon unnecessary or duplicative work.” (Wilkerson v. Sullivan (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 443, 448.)
Plaintiff seeks attorneys’ fees in the total amount of $16,267.50 for 37.1 hours billed, plus an anticipated 7 hours spent preparing and appearing at the hearing for the instant motion. Plaintiff provides counsel’s detailed billing records for their firm in this case. (Goodfriend Decl., Exh. 2.) Plaintiff asserts that given the stakes involved, Plaintiff was required to spend a substantial amount of time and effort to secure judgment. Plaintiff contends that accordingly, the number of hours spent by Plaintiff’s attorneys are reasonable.
The Court finds that the amount of hours billed in this matter is reasonable, given that Plaintiff expended less than a week’s worth of time to litigate this matter to judgment, which included trial. Still, the Court finds that the amount of hours that Plaintiff anticipates billing in connection with the instant motion is excessive and unreasonable, as no opposition has been filed and no reply is necessitated. Accordingly, a total of $1,500.00 representing 4 hours is deducted from the total amount of fees requested.
Having analyzed the billing records provided and the motions and pleadings filed, the Court determines that a reasonable lodestar in this case, to limit any duplicative or excessive fees, is $14,767.50.
Plaintiff’s unopposed motion for attorney fees is GRANTED in part. The Court awards Plaintiff attorneys’ fees in the amount of $14,767.50. Moving party to give notice.
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