On 11/06/2019 WOODLAND OWNER, LLC, A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY filed a Property - Commercial Eviction lawsuit against ABBAS AYANI-MOFRAD. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Van Nuys Courthouse East located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is JESSICA A. UZCATEGUI. The case status is Disposed - Judgment Entered.
Disposed - Judgment Entered
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Van Nuys Courthouse East
Los Angeles, California
JESSICA A. UZCATEGUI
WOODLAND OWNER LLC A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
TURNER ELISABETH A.
TURNER ELISABETH ANNE
ABRAMS ALAN K.
ABRAMS ALAN K
8/25/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Ruling on Submitted Matter) of 08/25/2020
7/6/2020: Request for Judicial Notice - Request for Judicial Notice
7/6/2020: Notice (name extension) - Notice Compendium of Exhibits
7/15/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Non-Appearance Case Review) of 07/15/2020
6/4/2020: Judgment - Judgment in Favor of Woodland Owner, LLC
6/4/2020: Clerk's Notice of Full Payment of Fees Required - Clerk's Notice of Full Payment of Fees Required
5/4/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Non-Appearance Case Review)
3/27/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Court Order) of 03/27/2020
3/16/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Final Status Conference; Jury Trial)
3/4/2020: Objection (name extension) - Objection TO DECLARATION OF ALAN K. ABRAMS
3/4/2020: Reply (name extension) - Reply PLAINTIFFS MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN REPLY TO OPPOSITION TO MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, ADJUDICATION
2/18/2020: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition of Defendant to Summary Judgment
2/13/2020: Request for Judicial Notice - Request for Judicial Notice
2/13/2020: Motion for Summary Judgment - Motion for Summary Judgment
2/13/2020: Brief (name extension) - Brief COMPENDIUM OF EXHIBITS IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF?S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, ADJUDICATIONR
1/15/2020: Request/Counter-Request To Set Case For Trial - Request/Counter-Request To Set Case For Trial
11/6/2019: Summons - Summons on Complaint
11/19/2019: Answer - Answer
DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Ruling on Submitted Matter) of 08/25/2020; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketUpdated -- Motion for Attorney Fees: Filed By: WOODLAND OWNER, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); Result: Granted; Result Date: 08/25/2020Read MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees)Read MoreRead Less
DocketHearing on Motion for Attorney Fees scheduled for 08/25/2020 at 08:30 AM in Van Nuys Courthouse East at Department W updated: Result Date to 08/25/2020; Result Type to Held - Taken under SubmissionRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order (Ruling on Submitted Matter)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees; Filed by: WOODLAND OWNER, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); As to: ABBAS AYANI-MOFRAD (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketHearing on Motion for Attorney Fees scheduled for 08/25/2020 at 08:30 AM in Van Nuys Courthouse East at Department WRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order (Non-Appearance Case Review)Read MoreRead Less
DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Non-Appearance Case Review) of 07/15/2020; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketMotion for Attorney Fees; Filed by: WOODLAND OWNER, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by: WOODLAND OWNER, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); As to: ABBAS AYANI-MOFRAD (Defendant); Proof of Mailing Date: 11/13/2019; Service Cost: 55.30; Service Cost Waived: NoRead MoreRead Less
DocketAnswer; Filed by: ABBAS AYANI-MOFRAD (Defendant); As to: WOODLAND OWNER, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Unlawful Detainer mailed 11/08/2019Read MoreRead Less
DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 01/15/2020 at 08:30 AM in Van Nuys Courthouse East at Civil Clerk's OfficeRead MoreRead Less
DocketCase assigned to Hon. Jessica A. Uzcategui in Department H Van Nuys Courthouse EastRead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by: WOODLAND OWNER, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); As to: ABBAS AYANI-MOFRAD (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: WOODLAND OWNER, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); As to: ABBAS AYANI-MOFRAD (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: WOODLAND OWNER, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); As to: ABBAS AYANI-MOFRAD (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: 19VEUD02918 Hearing Date: August 25, 2020 Dept: W
woodland owner, llc v. abbas ayani-mofrad
motion for attorney fees
Date of Hearing: August 25, 2020 Trial Date: N/A
Department: W Case No.: 19VEUD02918
Moving Party: Plaintiff Woodland Owner, LLC
Responding Party: No opposition
This is a UD action involving commercial property. Plaintiff alleges Defendant and Plaintiff’s predecessor-in interest entered into a written commercial lease on October 9, 2014 with a lease term for approximately 5 years. Plaintiff further alleges it served Defendant a letter on October 17, 2019, reminding Defendant that the lease would terminate on October 31, 2019 and that Plaintiff would not be renewing the lease. On October 31, 2019, the lease expired and Plaintiff alleges the Defendant has failed and refuses to vacate the premises.
Plaintiff also alleges Defendant is in default of the lease agreement because Defendant has placed signs or caused signs to be placed on the premises, in violation of the lease agreement. Plaintiff claims Defendant has failed and refuses to remove such signs after Plaintiff’s request do to so. Before the lease expired, Plaintiff served Defendant with a 30-Day Notice to Cure or Quit. The 30-Day Notice requested Defendant to either cure the violation as to the signage provisions within 30 days or vacate the premises.
On December 2, 2019, this action was related to Defendant’s complaint against Woodland Owner, LLC for breach of contract, anticipatory repudiation, declaratory relief, and violation of Business and Professions Code §17200, et seq.
On May 4, 2020, Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted and the court entered judgment in Plaintiff’s favor on June 4, 2020.
Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is GRANTED, in the reduced amount.
REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE
Plaintiff requests this court take judicial notice of the following: (1) Judgment in Favor of Woodland Owner, LLC (Exh. A); (2) Plaintiff’s Notice of Motion and Motion For Summary Judgment, or in the alternative, Adjudication; Supporting Memorandum of Points and Authorities (Exh. B); (3) Opposition of Abbas Ayani Mofrad to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment or in the alternative Summary Adjudication (Exh. C); (4) Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Reply to Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment (Exh. D); (5) Declaration of Tae Kim and Lease submitted in support of Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment or in the alternative, Adjudication (Exh. L); (6) Abbass Ayani-Mofrad’s complaint against Woodland Owner LLC, in the related civil action, LASC No. 19VECV00927 (Exh. M).
As these materials reflect documents which are properly subject to judicial notice, the court grants Plaintiff’s request for judicial notice as to the existence of these documents. The truth of allegations made in these documents are not judicially noticeable.
Plaintiff moves the court for an order awarding Plaintiff attorney fees and costs in the amount of $63,616.10 on the on the grounds Plaintiff is the prevailing party in this action.
A prevailing party is entitled to recover costs, including attorneys’ fees, as a matter of right, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. (See CCP §§ 1032(a)(4), 1032(b), 1033.5.) A prevailing party is “the party with a net monetary recovery, a defendant in whose favor a dismissal is entered, a defendant where neither plaintiff nor defendant obtains any relief, and a defendant as against those plaintiffs who do not recover any relief against that defendant.” (Id., § 1032(a)(4).) However, “[w]here an action has been voluntarily dismissed or dismissed pursuant to a settlement of the case, there shall be no prevailing party for purposes of [Civil Code section 1717].” (Civ. Code, § 1717(b)(2); see Shapira v. Lifetech Resources, LLC (2018) 22 Cal.App.5th 429, 441 (“A trial court lacks discretion to award fees under section 1717(b)(2) where a case has been voluntarily dismissed.”); see also Santisas v. Goodin (1998) 17 Cal.4th 599, 615.)
First, the court notes Plaintiff is the prevailing party pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1032 and is entitled to attorney fees pursuant to Civil Code 1717. The rental agreement between Plaintiff and Defendants includes the following language:
31. Attorney's Fees. If any Party or Broker brings an action or proceeding involving the Premises whether founded in tort, contract or equity, or to declare rights hereunder, the Prevailing Party (as hereafter defined) in any such proceeding, action, or appeal thereon, shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees. Such fees may be awarded in the same suit or recovered in a separate suit, whether or not such action or proceeding is pursued to decision or judgment. The term. “Prevailing Party” shall include, without limitation, a Party or Broker who substantially obtains or defeats the relief sought, as the case may be, whether by compromise, settlement, judgment, or the abandonment by the other Party or Broker of its claim or defense. The attorney's fee award shall not be computed in accordance with any court fee schedule, but shall be such as to fully reimburse all attorney's fees reasonably incurred. In addition, Lessor shall be entitled to attorney's fees, costs and expenses incurred in preparation and service of notices of Default and consultations in connection therewith, whether or not a legal action is subsequently commenced in connection with such Default or resulting Breach. ($200 is a reasonable minimum per occurrence for such services and consultation). (RJN, Exh. K.)
Pursuant to Civil Code section 1717, “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.”
Therefore, Plaintiff is entitled to recover attorney fees in this action.
Next, the court finds $53,805 in reasonable amount of attorney fees. “Even after determining that a party is entitled to fees because it ‘prevailed,’ the trial court must still determine what amount of fees would be ‘reasonable’ in light of the relative extent or degree of the party's success in obtaining the results sought.” (Sokolow v. County of San Mateo (1989) 213 Cal.App.3d 231, 247.)
Plaintiff’s counsel requests $61,680.00 in attorney fees. Counsel for Plaintiff, Elizabeth Turner, declares that a total of 223.55 hours of work was performed on this case. (Turner Decl. ¶32, Exh. N.) Turner also declares she anticipates the firm will spend 8 hours in the preparation of the instant Motion For Attorney’s Fees; 4 hours in the review of the Opposition and Preparation of the Reply; 4 hours appearing at the hearing on this motion, totaling an additional $4,000 in connection with the instant motion. The court notes no opposition has been filed. (Turner Decl. ¶34, Exh. N.)
As for preparation of the instant motion, the court finds 5 hours appropriate for preparing the instant motion and 1 hour appearing at the hearing on the instant motion. As such, the court reduces the fees for the instant motion from $4,000 to $1500.
As for the 223.55 hours, counsel submits invoices and a summary of the work provided in support of the motion. (Turner Decl. ¶32, Exh. H.) Counsel generally provides:
In September 2019, counsel generally spent 16.20 hours assessing and responding to Tenant’s breaches of the Lease, which served as the basis for the Unlawful detainer. (Turner Decl. ¶32, Exh. H.)
In October 2019, counsel generally spent 7.50 hours focusing on the upcoming expiration of the notice period with respect to the Thirty Day Notice to Cure in connection with Tenant’s display of the impermissible banner, Tenant’s further breach of the Lease during that period, and the upcoming October 31, 2019 expiration of the Lease, which would serve as the second basis of the UD action. (Turner Decl. ¶32, Exh. H.)
In November 2019, counsel generally spent 39.05 hours on communications regarding the expiration of the Lease and Tenant’s failure to vacate, preparation of the UD Complaint, and assessing and preparing responses to the extensive discovery requests served by Tenant in the Unlawful Detainer action.
In December 2019, counsel spent generally 25.40 hours reviewing extensive documents relevant to Tenant’s discovery requests, assessing, researching, and developing responses to various contention raised by Tenant in discovery requests and communications with Tenant’s counsel, and further preparation of Landlord’s extensive discovery responses.
In January 2020, counsel spent generally 40.80 hours researching and assessing Tenant’s vague and complex contentions, in particular assessing city code requirements, preparing Landlord’s discovery, and preparing for the deposition of Tenant.
In February 2020, counsel spent generally 98.90 hours taking Tenant’s deposition, clarifying Tenant’s claims, preparing for and attending the depositions of Jenni Harris and Tae Kim, obtaining the declaration of the land use planner regarding the city requirement necessitating the removal of the banner, preparing the Motion for Summary Judgment, assessing the Tenant’s Opposition Brief, and preparing the Reply Brief.
In March 2020, counsel spent generally 36 hours preparing for and attending the hearing on the MSJ, preparing for the upcoming trial, including preparation of trial documents.
In April 2020, counsel spent generally 2.10 hours attempting to arrange the mediation, and extensive efforts to accommodate Tenant’s requests for alternate mediators, alternate dates, and persistent non-responsiveness.
Turner also declares the rates charged by the counsel on this case for the work of attorneys and paralegals are reasonable for the Los Angeles legal market for individuals of their skill, experience and background. In support of their fees, Plaintiff’s counsel presents the National Law Journal of Los Angeles firms, which found billing rates as of October 2014 ranged from $685 to $890 for partners and $415 to $535 for associates. (Turner Decl. ¶38; Exhibit I.)
Mr. Goodkin is a real estate litigator with 33 years of experience and charges an hourly rate of $350.00. (Turner Decl. ¶32.) Mr. Goodkin spent 53.1 hours on the matter. (Turner Decl. ¶¶31, 32.) Since passing the bar, Mr. Goodkin’s practice has focused on real estate and business litigation with a particular emphasis on matters involving real estate. (Turner Decl. ¶32.) Mr. Goodkin has also been named a Los Angeles “Super Lawyer” in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. (Turner Decl. ¶32.) Ms. Turner is a real estate litigator with 4 years of experience and charges an hourly rate of $250.00. (Turner Decl. ¶32.) Her practice primarily involves representing developers, commercial property owners and other clients in litigation matters. (Turner Decl. ¶32.) As for the legal assistant/paralegals, each charges $95 an hour. (Turner Decl. ¶32.) Ms. Ancheta has been with the firm for approximately 13 years and is currently a legal assistant. (Turner Decl. ¶32.) Mr. Yeou has been with the firm approximately two years and is currently a paralegal. (Turner Decl. ¶32.) Accordingly, the court finds the hourly rates charged by the attorneys are reasonable and supported.
As for the time expended, the court finds that the amount of time spent researching the legal issues (40.80 hours) to be excessive, given the representations that the legal issues were clear and warranted summary judgment in plaintiff’s favor; the court also finds the amount of time spent on preparing for summary judgment and trial, and the amount of time spent on discovery to be excessive, given that this is an unlawful detainer procedure which is intended to be an expedited and streamlined procedure. There also was duplication of effort by the two counsel. The finds that the total number of hours spent by Mr. Goodkin should be reduced by 12.5 hours or $4375; and the total number of hours spent by Ms. Turner should be reduced by 20 hours or $5000.
Based on the foregoing, the court awards $53,805 in attorney fees.
Memorandum of Costs
Concerning costs, Plaintiff filed a memorandum of costs on July 6, 2020 requesting $1,936.10. Defendant did not file a motion to tax costs. Nonetheless, Plaintiff is only allowed to recover those costs permitted by statute. Here, the court finds the following costs to be non-recoverable under Code of Civil Procedure section 1032 and 1033.5:
Parking - $20.00
Photocopies for preparation of Motion for Summary Judgment - $123.50
Thus, the court orders stricken a total of $143.50. Plaintiff is entitled to costs of $1792.60.