This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 02/25/2021 at 00:05:37 (UTC).

SARGON LAZAROF VS TODD BERNSTEIN

Case Summary

On 07/16/2019 SARGON LAZAROF filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against TODD BERNSTEIN. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is JAMES E. BLANCARTE. The case status is Disposed - Judgment Entered.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******6595

  • Filing Date:

    07/16/2019

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Judgment Entered

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

JAMES E. BLANCARTE

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

LAZAROF SARGON

Defendant

BERNSTEIN TODD

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

KELLEY KYLE P.

Defendant Attorney

TAMBORELLI JOHN

 

Court Documents

Judgment - Judgment Proposed Judgment

2/2/2021: Judgment - Judgment Proposed Judgment

Notice (name extension) - Notice of Entry of Judgment

2/3/2021: Notice (name extension) - Notice of Entry of Judgment

Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees) of 01/21/2021

1/21/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees) of 01/21/2021

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

1/21/2021: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees)

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

1/8/2021: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Motion for Attorney Fees - Motion for Attorney Fees

7/17/2020: Motion for Attorney Fees - Motion for Attorney Fees

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion for Summary Adjudication)

6/29/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion for Summary Adjudication)

Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

6/1/2020: Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

Reply (name extension) - Reply in Support of Motion for Summary Adjudication

6/24/2020: Reply (name extension) - Reply in Support of Motion for Summary Adjudication

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

4/15/2020: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Request for Judicial Notice - Request for Judicial Notice

1/29/2020: Request for Judicial Notice - Request for Judicial Notice

Separate Statement - Separate Statement

1/29/2020: Separate Statement - Separate Statement

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

10/29/2019: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information - Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

Proof of Mailing (Substituted Service) - Proof of Mailing (Substituted Service)

8/28/2019: Proof of Mailing (Substituted Service) - Proof of Mailing (Substituted Service)

Summons - Summons on Complaint

7/16/2019: Summons - Summons on Complaint

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

7/16/2019: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

7/16/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

7/16/2019: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

17 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 02/03/2021
  • DocketNotice of Entry of Judgment; Filed by: Sargon Lazarof (Plaintiff); As to: Todd Bernstein (Defendant)

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  • 02/03/2021
  • DocketMemorandum of Costs (Summary); Filed by: Sargon Lazarof (Plaintiff); As to: Todd Bernstein (Defendant); Total Costs: 1089.50

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  • 02/02/2021
  • DocketJudgment Proposed Judgment; Signed and Filed by: Sargon Lazarof (Plaintiff); As to: Todd Bernstein (Defendant)

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  • 02/02/2021
  • DocketCourt orders judgment entered for Plaintiff Sargon Lazarof against Defendant Todd Bernstein on the Complaint filed by Sargon Lazarof on 07/16/2019 for damages of $8,500.00, attorney fees of $7,500.00, and interest of $1,651.97 for a total of $17,651.97. Cost to be determined per filing of Memorandum of Costs.; Other: The Judgment will bear interest at 10% per annum

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  • 02/02/2021
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 02/03/2021 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 Not Held - Vacated by Court on 02/02/2021

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  • 02/02/2021
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 07/19/2022 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 Not Held - Vacated by Court on 02/02/2021

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  • 01/21/2021
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees)

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  • 01/21/2021
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees) of 01/21/2021; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 01/21/2021
  • DocketHearing on Motion for Attorney Fees scheduled for 01/21/2021 at 10:00 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 updated: Result Date to 01/21/2021; Result Type to Held

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  • 01/14/2021
  • DocketReply IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS FEES; Filed by: Sargon Lazarof (Plaintiff)

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23 More Docket Entries
  • 08/28/2019
  • DocketDeclaration re: Due Diligence; Filed by: Sargon Lazarof (Plaintiff); As to: Todd Bernstein (Defendant)

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  • 08/28/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by: Sargon Lazarof (Plaintiff); As to: Todd Bernstein (Defendant); Proof of Mailing Date: 08/16/2019; Service Cost: 233.50; Service Cost Waived: No

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  • 07/18/2019
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 07/19/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 07/18/2019
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 01/12/2021 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 07/18/2019
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. James E. Blancarte in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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  • 07/16/2019
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 07/16/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 07/16/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Sargon Lazarof (Plaintiff); As to: Todd Bernstein (Defendant)

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  • 07/16/2019
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Sargon Lazarof (Plaintiff); As to: Todd Bernstein (Defendant)

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  • 07/16/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Sargon Lazarof (Plaintiff); As to: Todd Bernstein (Defendant)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STLC06595    Hearing Date: January 21, 2021    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Thu., January 21, 2021 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Lazarof v. Bernstein COMP. FILED: 07-16-19

CASE NUMBER: 19STLC06595 DISC. C/O: 01-04-21

NOTICE: OK DISC. MOT. C/O: 01-19-21

TRIAL: 02-03-21

PROCEEDINGS: MOTION FOR AWARD OF CONTRACTUAL ATTORNEY’S FEES

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Sargon Lazarof

RESP. PARTY: Defendant Todd K. Bernstein

MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES

(CCP §§ 1032, 1033.5)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff Sargon Lazarof’s Motion for Award of Contractual Attorney’s Fees is GRANTED in the amount of $10,600.00.

SERVICE:

[X] Proof of Service Timely Filed (CRC, rule 3.1300) OK

[X] Correct Address (CCP §§ 1013, 1013a) OK

[X] 16/21 Court Days Lapsed (CCP §§ 12c, 1005(b)) OK

OPPOSITION: Filed on January 7, 2021 [ ] Late [ ] None

REPLY: Filed on January 14, 2021 [X] Late [ ] None

ANALYSIS:

I. Background

On July 16, 2019, Plaintiff Sargon Lazarof (“Plaintiff”) filed an action for breach of contract, common counts, and fraud against Defendant Todd K. Bernstein (“Defendant”). Defendant filed his Answer on October 15, 2019.

On January 29, 2020, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary adjudication as to the first cause of action for breach of contract, which was granted on June 29, 2020. (6/29/20 Minute Order.)

Plaintiff thereafter filed the instant Motion for Award of Contractual Attorney’s Fees (the “Motion”) on July 17, 2020. Defendant filed an Opposition on January 7, 2021, and Plaintiff filed a late Reply on January 14, 2021.

Finally, on January 11, 2021, Plaintiff dismissed the second and third causes of action, as well as Does 1-10. (1/8/21 Request for Dismissal.)

II. Legal Standard

A prevailing party is entitled to recover costs, including attorneys’ fees, as a matter of right. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1032, subd. (a)(4).) Civil Code section 1717 states in pertinent part: “[i]n 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.” (Civ. Code, § 1717, subd. (a).)

“A notice of motion to claim attorney's fees for services up to and including the rendition of judgment in the trial court . . . must be served and filed within the time for filing a notice of appeal under . . . rules 8.822 and 8.823 in a limited civil case.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1702, subd. (b)(1).) In a limited civil case, a notice of appeal must be filed on or before the earliest of 30 days after service of a document entitled “Notice of Entry” of judgment or 90 days after the entry of judgment. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.822, subd. (a)(1).)

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 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. 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.)

III. Discussion

Defendant argues Plaintiff’s Motion is untimely because the prevailing party has not yet been determined. (Oppo., p. 3:6-19.) A prevailing party includes the party with a net monetary recovery. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1032, subd. (4).) As noted above, summary adjudication was granted in Plaintiff’s favor as to the only remaining cause of action for breach of contract to recover damages of $8,500.00. (6/29/20 Minute Order.) Thus, Plaintiff is the prevailing party.

In addition, a motion for attorney’s fees filed before the entry of judgment may be considered by the Court as timely where it does not mislead or prejudice the opposing party. (See Yuba Cypress Housing Partners, Ltd. v. Area Developers (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 1077, 1086.) Although a judgment has not yet been entered here, the Court finds no such prejudice from Plaintiff’s early filing of this Motion.

The parties’ promissory note provides that “[i]n the event of default, [Defendant] is responsible for all court costs, collection costs and attorney fees associated with the collection of the loan.” (Compl., Exh. A.) Thus, Plaintiff is entitled to recover attorney’s fees incurred in the prosecution of this action.

Plaintiff’s attorney provides a detailed breakdown of the work performed, which includes filing the action, propounding discovery, filing a motion for summary adjudication, attending hearings, discussing possible settlements with Defendant, and filing the instant Motion. (Mot., Kelley Decl., ¶¶ 14, 17, Exh. B.) The invoices demonstrate Plaintiff’s counsel billed 18.8 hours of attorney time at $500.00 per hour. (Id.) Plaintiff also seeks an additional 2.4 hours for preparing a reply brief and attending this hearing. (Id.) In Opposition, Defendant does not argue any of the entries on Plaintiff’s invoices are unreasonable; instead, he argues the amount sought is excessive in comparison to the damages sought. (Oppo., p. 3:20-6:5.) Having reviewed the invoices, however, the Court finds the number of hours billed, rate charged, and total fees of $10,600.00 to be reasonable in light of the work performed.

Thus, Plaintiff’s request for $10,600.00 in attorney’s fees is GRANTED.

IV. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff Sargon Lazarof’s Motion for Award of Contractual Attorney’s Fees is GRANTED in the amount of $10,600.00.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

Case Number: 19STLC06595    Hearing Date: June 29, 2020    Dept: 25

MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

(CCP § 437c)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff Sargon Lazarof’s Motion for Summary Adjudication as to the breach of contract cause of action is GRANTED.

SERVICE:

[X] Proof of Service Timely Filed (CRC 3.1300) OK

[X] Correct Address (CCP 1013, 1013a) OK

[X] 75/80 Day Lapse (CCP 12c and 1005 (b)) OK

OPPOSITION: None filed as of June 23, 2020 [ ] Late [X] None

REPLY: None filed as of June 23, 2020 [ ] Late [X] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

On July 16, 2019, Plaintiff Sargon Lazarof (“Plaintiff”) filed an action for breach of contract, common counts, and fraud against Defendant Todd K. Bernstein (“Defendant”). On October 15, 2019, Defendant filed an Answer.

On January 29, 2020, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Summary Adjudication on Plaintiff’s First Cause of Action for Breach of Contract (the “Motion”). To date, no opposition has been filed.

  1. Request for Judicial Notice

Plaintiff requests that the Court take judicial notice of (1) the Complaint filed by Plaintiff on July 16, 2019 in this action and (2) the Answer to the Complaint filed by Defendant on October 15, 2019. (Request for Judicial Notice, ¶¶ 1-2.)

Plaintiff’s request is GRANTED. (Evid. Code, § 452, subd. (d).)

  1. Legal Standard

A party seeking summary judgment has the burden of producing evidentiary facts sufficient to entitle him/her to judgment as a matter of law. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (c); Vesely v. Sager (1971) 5 Cal.3d 153.) The moving party must make an affirmative showing that he/she is entitled to judgment irrespective of whether or not the opposing party files an opposition. (Villa v. McFerren (1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 733.)

When a Defendant or Cross-Defendant seeks summary judgment, he/she must show either (1) that one or more elements of the cause of action cannot be established; or (2) that there is a complete defense to that cause of action. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).) When a Plaintiff or Cross-Complainant seeks summary judgment, he/she must produce admissible evidence on each element of each cause of action on which judgment is sought. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(1).) The moving party’s “affidavits must cite evidentiary facts, not legal conclusions or ‘ultimate’ facts” and be strictly construed. (Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1510, 1519; Hayman v. Block (1986) 176 Cal.App.3d 629, 639.)

The opposing party on a motion for summary judgment is under no evidentiary burden to produce rebuttal evidence until the moving party meets his or her initial movant’s burden. (Binder v. Aetna Life Insurance Company (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 832.) Once the initial movant’s burden is met, then the burden shifts to the opposing party to show, with admissible evidence, that there is a triable issue requiring the weighing procedures of trial. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p).) The opposing party may not simply rely on his/her allegations to show a triable issue but must present evidentiary facts that are substantial in nature and rise beyond mere speculation. (Sangster v. Paetkau (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 151.)

“A motion for summary adjudication…shall proceed in all procedural respects as a motion for summary judgment” and “shall be granted only if it completely disposes of a cause of action, an affirmative defense, a claim for damages, or an issue of duty.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subds. (f)(1)-(2).)

  1. Discussion

Plaintiff moves for summary adjudication as to the breach of contract cause of action on the grounds that there is no triable issue of material fact or defense. (Mot., pp. 2.)

“To establish a cause of action for breach of contract, the plaintiff must plead and prove (1) the existence of the contract, (2) the plaintiff’s performance or excuse for nonperformance, (3) the defendant’s breach, and (4) resulting damages to the plaintiff. [Citation.] ‘In an action based on a written contract, a plaintiff may plead the legal effect of the contract rather than its precise language.’ [Citation.]” (Maxwell v. Dolezal (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 93, 97-98.)

Plaintiff presents the following evidence. On January 17, 2019, Defendant signed a Loan Agreement and Promissory Note (the “Loan Agreement”) for a $7,500.00 loan. (Mot., Separate Statement (“SS”), Nos. 1, 3; Lazarof Decl., ¶ 2, Exh. A.) The Loan Agreement provided that Defendant promised to pay Plaintiff $8,500.00 for the $7,500.00 loan made by Plaintiff to Defendant on January 17, 2019. (Id.) Payment was to be made no later than February 17, 2019. (Id.) In the event of default, Defendant agreed to be “responsible for all court costs, collection costs, and attorney fees associated with the collection of the loan” plus 10% interest. (Id.) Defendant also gave Plaintiff a check post-dated for February 17, 2019 for the amount of $8,500.00. (Mot, SS No. 2, Lazarof Decl., ¶ 3, Exh. B.) Defendant does not dispute the validity of the contract. (See Mot., Kelley Decl., Exh. D, Form Interrogatory No. 150.1.)

Pursuant to the Loan Agreement, Plaintiff lent Defendant $7,500.00 in cash. (Mot., SS. No. 5; Lazarof Decl., ¶ 6.) Defendant did not repay the loan on February 17, 2019 as agreed. (Mot., SS No. 5; Lazarof Decl., ¶ 7.) As a result, Plaintiff has been damaged in the amount of $8,500.00, plus attorney’s fees and costs. (Mot., SS No. 6; Lazarof Decl., ¶ 7.)

Based on the evidence presented, Plaintiff has carried his initial burden to demonstrate there is no triable issue of material fact as to the breach of contract cause of action. Thus, the burden now shifts to Defendant to show a triable issue of material fact does exist. As no opposition has been filed, however, Defendant has not met his burden.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff Sargon Lazarof’s Motion for Summary Adjudication as to the breach of contract cause of action is GRANTED.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

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