On 06/29/2016 JIANG QI filed a Labor - Other Labor lawsuit against BLUESTAR EXPRESS GROUP INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Pomona Courthouse South located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are OKI, DAN THOMAS and GLORIA WHITE-BROWN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Pomona Courthouse South
Los Angeles, California
OKI, DAN THOMAS
BLUESTAR EXPRESS GROUP INC.
BLUESTAR EXPRESS GROUP INC. A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION
CHU ANTHONY K. ESQ
LIU ESQ. TONY T.
LIU LONG Z
7/6/2016: Notice of Case Management Conference
9/11/2017: Other -
9/20/2017: Minute Order
12/4/2018: Memorandum of Points & Authorities
12/4/2018: Request for Judicial Notice
12/27/2018: Motion for Summary Judgment
4/29/2019: Minute Order
at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel (Ex-Parte Application to Shorten Time for(1) Motion to Compel Deposition Attendance of Pliantiff Jiang Qi; (2) Request to Continue the Discovery Cut-Off Date to Take Deposition of Plaintiff; Declaration of Long Z. Liu; [Proposed] Order) - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by CourtRead MoreRead Less
at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel (Ex-Parte Application to Shorten Time for(1) Motion to Compel Deposition Attendance of Pliantiff Jiang Qi; (2) Request to Continue the Discovery Cut-Off Date to Take Deposition of Plaintiff; Declaration of Long Z. Liu; [Proposed] Order) - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by CourtRead MoreRead Less
Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion to Compel Ex-Parte Application to Shorten T...)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Order (Tentative Ruling); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Certificate of Mailing for (Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Compel Ex-Parte Application to Shorten T...) of 04/29/2019); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by CourtRead MoreRead Less
Declaration (Of Anthony K. Chu re Non-filing and Serving of Motion to Compel Deposition of Plaintiff Jiang Qi); Filed by Jiang Qi (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by CourtRead MoreRead Less
Declaration (Declaration of Long Z. Liu in Support of New Diamond Trucking, Inc.'s Motion to Compel Deposition of Plaintiff Jiang Qi); Filed by DIAMOND TRUCKING (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
at 09:00 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (to Shorten Time for (1) Motion to Compel Deposition Attendance of Jiang Qi; (2) Request to Continue the Discovery Cut-Off Date to Take Deposition of Plaintiff) - Held - Motion GrantedRead MoreRead Less
Case Management Statement; Filed by Jiang Qi (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Answer to Cross-Complaint; Filed by Jiang Qi (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Cross-Complaint; Filed by Bluestar Express Group, Inc., a California corporation (Cross-Complainant)Read MoreRead Less
Answer; Filed by Bluestar Express Group, Inc., a California corporation (Defendant); Yidan Zhang (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Rtn of Service of Summons & Compl; Filed by Jiang Qi (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Rtn of Service of Summons & Compl; Filed by Jiang Qi (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Civil Case Cover SheetRead MoreRead Less
Summons (on Complaint)Read MoreRead Less
Complaint; Filed by Jiang Qi (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Case Number: KC068561 Hearing Date: March 10, 2020 Dept: J
HEARING DATE: Tuesday, March 10, 2020
RE: Qi v. Bluestar Express Group, Inc. (KC068561)
Plaintiff Jiang Qi’s MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES, COSTS AND PREJUDGMENT
Responding Party: Defendants, Yidan Zhang and Bluestar Express Group, Inc.
Plaintiff Jiang Qi’s Motion for Attorneys Fees, Costs and Prejudgment Interest is GRANTED as follows: Attorney’s fees in the amount of $243,523.50 and prejudgment interest in the amount of $45,810.02.
Wage/hour violations lawsuit. On June 29, 2016, Plaintiff Jiang Qi (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint, asserting causes of action against Defendants Bluestar Express Group Inc. (“Bluestar”), Yidan Zhang (“Yidan”) and Does 1-20 for:
1. Failure to Pay Minimum Hourly Wages and Overtime Wages [Cal. Labor Code §§ 510, 1194]
2. Failure to Provide Meal and Rest Periods [Cal. Labor Code § 226.7]
3. Knowing and Intentional Failure to Comply with Accurate Itemized Employee Wage Statement Provisions [Cal. Labor Code § 226]
4. Waiting Time Penalties [Cal. Labor Code §§ 201, 203]
5. Unfair Competition [Business and Professions Code § 17200 et seq.]
6. Civil Penalties for Labor Code Violations [Cal. Labor Code § 558]
On August 19, 2016, Bluestar filed a cross-complaint, asserting a cause of action against Plaintiff and Does 1-20 for:
1. Breach of Contract
On September 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed six “Amendment[s] to Complaint,” wherein Tom Zhang was named in lieu of Doe 1, Tao Zhang was named in lieu of Doe 2, Qingyu Zhang (“Qingyu”) was named in lieu of Doe 3, Shuqin Gao (“Gao”) was named in lieu of Doe 4, Yang Zhao was named in lieu of Doe 5, and Ketian Yue was named in lieu of Doe 6.
On January 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed another “Amendment to Complaint,” wherein New Diamond Trucking, Inc. was named in lieu of Doe 7. On January 22, 2018, Plaintiff dismissed Qingyu and Gao without prejudice.
This case proceeded to trial on August 13, 2019. On October 2, 2019, an “Order of Judgment” was filed. On October 3, 2019, Judgment was filed. On November 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed and mail-served a Notice of Entry of Judgment.
CCP § 1021 provides, in relevant part, that “[e]xcept as attorney’s fees are specifically provided for by statute, the measure and mode of compensation of attorneys and counselors at law is left to the agreement, express or implied, of the parties. . .”
“In any action brought for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions, the court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the prevailing party if any party to the action requests attorney’s fees and costs upon the initiation of the action . . .” (Labor Code § 218.6(a).)
“Notwithstanding any agreement to work for a lesser wage, any employee receiving less than the legal minimum wage or the legal overtime compensation applicable to the employee if entitled to recover in a civil action the unpaid balance of the full amount of this minimum wage or overtime compensation, including interest thereon, reasonable attorney’s fees, and costs of suit.” (Labor Code § 1194(a).)
Plaintiff moves the court for an order granting Plaintiff attorney’s fees, costs and prejudgment interest in the amount of $684,430.29 [i.e., $308,858.00 in attorney’s fees, plus a 2.0 multiplier, plus $16,369.34 in costs, plus $50,344.95 in prejudgment interest].
Entitlement to Fees
On October 30, 2019, Judgment was filed; Page 3, lines 9-13 state as follows: “Plaintiff shall recover $137,179.72 against Defendants BLUESTAR EXPRESS GROUP INC., NEW DIAMOND TRUCKING INC., YIDAN ZHANG, and TOM ZHANG a.k.a. TAO ZHANG, jointly and severally, plus pre-judgment interests as of June 29, 2016. Plaintiff is also entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to a motion for attorneys’ fees and costs.”
Bluestar and Yidan do not challenge Plaintiff’s entitlement to attorney’s fees. No other defendant has opposed the motion. The court determines that Plaintiff has established his entitlement to attorney’s fees based on Labor Code §§ 218.5 and 1194 and the quoted language in the Judgment.
“Attorneys fees need not be apportioned between distinct causes of action where plaintiff’s various claims involve a common core of facts or are based on related legal theories.” (Drouin v. Fleetwood Enterprises (1985) 163 Cal.App.3d 486, 493.) Further, “[a]pportionment is not required when the claims for relief are so intertwined that it would be impracticable, if not impossible, to separate the attorney’s time into compensable and noncompensable units.” (Bell v. Vista Unified School Dist. (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 672, 687.) “[A]pportionment . . . rests within the court’s sound discretion.” (Carver v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. (2004) 119 Cal.App.4th 498, 505.)
Plaintiff concedes that Plaintiff’s third, fifth and sixth causes of action were withdrawn and that, as to the fourth cause of action, the court did not find that Defendants willfully failed to pay all wages due by January 15, 2016. Plaintiff, however, urges that Plaintiff’s fee award should not be reduced for lack of success on some claims because the claims involved a common core of facts. The court agrees. The court further notes that Bluestar and Yidan do not argue apportionment.
Reasonableness of Fees
The issue remaining, then, is whether the fees sought via
this instant motion are reasonable. “[O]nce a party has established he or she
is entitled to fees, the lodestar method is generally presumed to be the
starting point in analyzing the appropriate amount of attorney fees. Under this
method, a court first calculates the number of hours reasonably spent
multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate for each billing professional, and
then may adjust the amount based on various relevant factors to ensure the fee
reflects ‘”the fair market value [of the attorney services] for the particular
action.”’” (K.I. v. Wagner (2014) 225
Cal.App.4th 1412, 1425 [citations omitted].) “Using the lodestar as
the basis for the attorney fee award ‘anchors the trial court's analysis to an
objective determination of the value of an attorney's services, ensuring that
the amount awarded is not arbitrary.’” (Bernardi
v. County of Monterey (2008)
“[V]erified time statements of the attorneys, as officers of the court, are entitled to credence in the absence of a clear indication the records are erroneous. (Horsford v. Board of Trustees of California State University (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 359, 396.) “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.” (Premier Medical Management Systems, Inc. v. California Ins. Guarantee Assn. (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 550, 564.)
Again, Plaintiff seeks attorney’s fees in the amount of $308,858.00. These attorney’s fees are broken down as follows:
Attorney Time Expended Hourly Rate
Anthony Chu 565.2 $395.00
Maureen Baker (“Baker”) 99.1 $350.00
Pamela Anderson (“Anderson”) 44.2 $350.00
James Howard (“Howard”) 120 $295.00
Plaintiff’s counsel Anthony Chu (“Chu”) has submitted a declaration, wherein he corroborates aforesaid hourly rates of counsel and attaches billing records. (Chu Decl., ¶¶3-8, Exh. 1.) Chu represents that he has 12+ years of litigation and trial experience in the area of employment law, that Baker and Anderson have extensive motion practice and civil litigation experience since 1993 and 2000, respectively, and that Howard has taken many civil cases to trial since 2013. (Id., ¶¶3 and 5-7.)
Based on the court’s own experience and knowledge, as well as on the experience and qualifications of counsel as set forth in Chu’s Declaration, and legal skills demonstrated in court, the court finds that the requested hourly rate of $395.00 for Chu as excessive. The court reduces Chu’s hourly rate to $295.00. The court also finds Anderson’s $350.00 hourly rate as excessive and reduces Anderson’s hourly rate to $275.00. The court reduces Baker’s hourly rate to $295.00. The court finds Howard’s hourly rate of $295.00 as reasonable.
As to the number of hours claimed to have been expended, Bluestar and Yidan claim a reduction of 75% is warranted. Plaintiff, in return, points out that Bluestar’s and Yidan’s requested reduction is excessive, given that Bluestar and Yidan only specifically challenge 92.5 hours, or 11.16% of the total time requested (i.e., 828.5 hours). (Opposition, 3:14-4:11; Reply, 3:19-23.) Bluestar and Yidan, moreover, generically complain, without more, that certain fees listed on pages 3-4 of their opposition are excessive. The court determines that Bluestar and Yidan have not met their burden in challenging any of the specific time entries.
Accordingly, the court will award a Lodestar of $243,523.50.
The court, however, declines Plaintiff’s request for a multiplier. “[T]he lodestar. . . may be adjusted by the court based on factors including, . . . (1) the novelty and difficult 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. 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.” (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1131-1132.)
Plaintiff concedes that “this matter did not involve extraordinarily unusual or novel points of law” (Motion, 10:19-20), but urges that a multiplier of 2.0 should nonetheless be awarded on the basis that counsel took the matter on contingency and that the economic damages were low. The court declines to award a multiplier on this basis.
Plaintiff’s request for costs is addressed via the memorandum of costs procedure.
Labor Code § 218.6 provides that, “[i]n any action brought for the nonpayment of wages, the court shall award interest on all due and unpaid wages at the rate of interest specified in subdivision (b) of Section 3289 of the Civil Code, which shall accrue from the date that the wages were due and payable . . .”
The October 30, 2019, Judgment specifically provides that Plaintiff is entitled to “pre-judgment interests as of June 29, 2016.” The calculation provided by Plaintiff is from January 15, 2016. It is 1,219 days from and including June 29, 2016 to and including October 30, 2019. Interest calculated based on these dates is as follows: $137,179.72 x 10%= $13,717.97, divided by 365= $37.58, x 1,219= $45,810.02. Bluestar and Yidan do not oppose the motion as to prejudgment interest. The court will award $45,810.02 in prejudgment interest.
 Civil Code § 3289(b) provides that “[i]f a contract entered into after January 1, 1986, does not stipulate a legal rate of interest, the obligation shall bear interest at a rate of 10 percent per annum after a breach.”