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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/31/2021 at 16:57:58 (UTC).

LASZLO HORVATH VS HC AUTOMOTIVE INC ET AL

Case Summary

On 05/18/2016 LASZLO HORVATH filed a Contract - Business lawsuit against HC AUTOMOTIVE INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Disposed - Dismissed.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****0911

  • Filing Date:

    05/18/2016

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Dismissed

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Business

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs, Petitioners and Respondents

HORVATH LASZLO

HOOMAN CHRYSLER DOGE JEEP RAM OF LOS ANGELES

Defendants, Respondents and Appellants

HC AUTOMOTIVE INC.

CAPITAL ONE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION

RHC AUTOMOTIVE INC.

HOOMAN CHRYSLER DODGE JEEP RAM

FCA US LLC

DOES 1 THROUGH 30

CAPITAL ONE AUTO FINANCE

RAM HOOMAN CHRYSLER DODGE JEEP

AEGIS SECURITY INSURANCE COMPANY

NISSANI RAYAN

NISSANI HOOMAN

HORVATH LASZLO

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

LAW OFFICE OF DAVID VALDEZ JR.

VALDEZ DAVID JR

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

PROUDFOOT MATTHEW M.

MCCREARY DUNCAN J.

GASCOU CHRISTIAN J. ESQ.

 

Court Documents

STATEMENT OF ITEMS IN DISPUTE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL FCA US LLC'S FURTHER RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS SET THREE

1/29/2018: STATEMENT OF ITEMS IN DISPUTE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL FCA US LLC'S FURTHER RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS SET THREE

DEFENDANT FCA'S EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND RELATED DATES; ETC

4/25/2018: DEFENDANT FCA'S EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND RELATED DATES; ETC

JOINT EXHIBIT LIST

4/27/2018: JOINT EXHIBIT LIST

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS; POINTS ANT) AUTHORITIES

8/20/2018: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS; POINTS ANT) AUTHORITIES

MEMORANDUM OF COSTS (SUMMARY)

8/20/2018: MEMORANDUM OF COSTS (SUMMARY)

DEFENDANT FCA US, LLC?S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY?S FEES, COSTS AND EXPENSES; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

9/18/2018: DEFENDANT FCA US, LLC?S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY?S FEES, COSTS AND EXPENSES; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

Minute Order -

9/28/2018: Minute Order -

Notice - NOTICE TO INCLUDE PREVIOUSLY DESIGNATED MATERIAL

11/8/2019: Notice - NOTICE TO INCLUDE PREVIOUSLY DESIGNATED MATERIAL

Notice of Rejection - Post Judgment

4/14/2021: Notice of Rejection - Post Judgment

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER ENTERED: 2018-10-02 00:00:00

10/2/2018: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER ENTERED: 2018-10-02 00:00:00

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA FOR PRODUCTION OF BUSINESS RECORDS; POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF DAVID VALDEZ JR.

4/25/2017: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA FOR PRODUCTION OF BUSINESS RECORDS; POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF DAVID VALDEZ JR.

CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT -

10/10/2017: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT -

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/13/2021
  • DocketWrit of Execution ((Los Angeles)); Filed by Laszlo Horvath (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/22/2021
  • DocketMemorandum of Costs After Judgment, Acknowledgment of Credit, and Declaration of Accrued Interest; Filed by Laszlo Horvath (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/14/2021
  • DocketNotice of Rejection - Post Judgment; Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/24/2021
  • DocketNotice (Of Entry of Orders On Plaintiff's Motion For Award of Attorney Fees and Costs on Appeal); Filed by Laszlo Horvath (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/04/2021
  • DocketOrder ([Proposed] Order on Plaintiff's Motion for Award of Attorney Fee and Costss on Appeal); Filed by Laszlo Horvath (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/27/2021
  • DocketNotice of Ruling (ON PLAINTIFF?S MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS ON APPEAL); Filed by Laszlo Horvath (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/26/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 34; Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees - Held

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  • 01/26/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/14/2021
  • DocketReply (to Defendants' Motion For Award of Attorney Fees); Filed by Laszlo Horvath (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/14/2021
  • DocketRequest (For Judicial Notice in Support of Reply to Opposition to Motion for Award of Attorney Fees); Filed by Laszlo Horvath (Plaintiff)

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724 More Docket Entries
  • 05/31/2016
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

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  • 05/31/2016
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 05/26/2016
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 05/26/2016
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/19/2016
  • DocketRtn of Service of Summons & Compl; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 05/19/2016
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 05/18/2016
  • DocketCOMPLAINT (CONSUMER LEGAL REMEDIES ACT, UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, FRAUD, BREACH OF IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY, MAGNUSON-MOSS WARRANTY ACT)

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  • 05/18/2016
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Laszlo Horvath (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/17/2016
  • Docketat 08:31 AM in Department 34; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses (MOTION - COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES; Advanced to a Previous Date) -

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  • 01/01/1900
  • Docketat 08:32 AM in Department Legacy; Unknown event

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC620911    Hearing Date: January 26, 2021    Dept: 34

SUBJECT: Motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

Moving Party: Plaintiff Laszlo Horvath

Resp. Party: Defendants RHC Automotive, Inc., HC Automotive, Inc., and Capital One, N.A.

The Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $50,318.50, which includes $50,258.50 for attorneys’ fees, plus the motion filing fee of $60.00.

The Court DENIES Plaintiff’s request for judicial notice as superfluous.

BACKGROUND:

Plaintiff commenced this action on May 18, 2016. On August 16, 2017, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint against Defendants HC Automotive, Inc. (“HCA”), RHC Automotive, Inc. (“RHC”), Capital One National Association (“Capital One”) (collectively “the HCA parties”), FCA US LLC (“FCA”), and Aegis Security Insurance Company (“Aegis Security”). The FAC asserted causes of action for (1) violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act; (2) unfair competition; and (3) fraud against the HCA parties, only; a cause of action for (4) breach of implied warranty of merchantability, against the HCA parties and FCA; and (5) violation of Vehicle Code section 11711 against Aegis Security only.

Plaintiff alleges that he purchased a 2015 Dodge Challenger from Defendants and that Defendants failed to disclose that the vehicle was previously stolen and damaged. As a result, the right-front suspension failed while Plaintiff was driving on the freeway.

On April 26, 2018, Plaintiff settled with Aegis Security in the amount of $42,265.00.

On June 18, 2018, Plaintiff settled with FCA for $25,000, plus attorney’s fees and costs to be determined by motion. On June 22, 2018, Plaintiff settled with the HCA parties for $10,000, plus attorney’s fees and costs.

On December 6, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees, in the total amount of $281,481.00, and allocated as follows:

· $237,444.75 to the HCA parties, jointly and severally;

· $16,332.00 to FCA, alone; and

· $27,704.25 to FCA and the HCA parties, jointly and severally among those parties.

On December 6, 2018, the Court also granted Defendants’ motions to tax costs in part and awarded Plaintiff costs in the reduced amount of $4,333.09 as against the HCA parties, jointly and severally, and $15,000.39 as against FCA and the HCA parties, jointly and severally.

On January 17, 2019, the clerk of court filed a notice of filing of notice of appeal by Defendants RHC Automotive, HC Automotive, Inc., and Capital One N.A. from the December 6, 2018 order awarding Plaintiff attorney’s fees and costs.

On October 7, 2020, the Court of Appeal issued an opinion affirming the trial court order of December 6, 2018.

On December 11, 2020, the Court of Appeal issued a remittitur and stated that Plaintiff shall recover his costs on appeal.

On December 16, 2020, Plaintiff filed the instant motion for attorney’s fees.

ANALYSIS:

I. Motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

A. Request for Judicial Notice

Plaintiff requests that the Court take judicial notice of the following:

· Exhibit 1: Order on Plaintiff’s Motion for Award of Attorney Fees and Costs and Defendants’ Motions to Tax Costs entered January 3, 2019; and

· Exhibit 2: Minute Order of December 6, 2018.

The Court DENIES Plaintiff’s request for judicial notice as superfluous. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1110(d).) Any party that wishes to draw the Court’s attention to a matter filed in this action may simply cite directly to the document by execution and filing date. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1110(d).)

B. Legal Standard

A notice of motion to claim attorney's fees on appeal must be served and filed within 40 days after the clerk sends notice of issuance of the remittitur. (Cal. Rules of Court, rules 3.1702(c)(1), 8.278(c)(1).) The remittitur in this action was issued on December 11, 2020. Plaintiff’s motion was filed and served less than 40 days later, on December 16, 2020.

Attorney's fees may only be recovered from an opposing party where they are authorized either by statute or contract. (See Code Civ. Proc., § 1033.5, subd. (a)(10)(B).) Such fees may be recovered for services both at trial and on appeal. (Harbour Landing-Dolfann, Ltd. v. Anderson (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 260, 263.)

California Rules of Court, rule 8.278 provides in relevant part:

“(a) Award of costs

(1) Except as provided in this rule, the party prevailing in the Court of Appeal in a civil case other than a juvenile case is entitled to costs on appeal.

(2) The prevailing party is the respondent if the Court of Appeal affirms the judgment without modification or dismisses the appeal. The prevailing party is the appellant if the court reverses the judgment in its entirety.

(3) If the Court of Appeal reverses the judgment in part or modifies it, or if there is more than one notice of appeal, the opinion must specify the award or denial of costs.

(4) In probate cases, the prevailing party must be awarded costs unless the Court of Appeal orders otherwise, but the superior court must decide who will pay the award.

(5) In the interests of justice, the Court of Appeal may also award or deny costs as it deems proper. . . .

(d) Recoverable costs . . .

(2) Unless the court orders otherwise, an award of costs neither includes attorney's fees on appeal nor precludes a party from seeking them under rule 3.1702.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.278(a),(d).)

California Rules of Court, rule 3.1702(a) provides:

“Except as otherwise provided by statute, this rule applies in civil cases to claims for statutory attorney's fees and claims for attorney's fees provided for in a contract. Subdivisions (b) and (c) apply when the court determines entitlement to the fees, the amount of the fees, or both, whether the court makes that determination because the statute or contract refers to ‘reasonable’ fees, because it requires a determination of the prevailing party, or for other reasons.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1702(a).)

Thus, the rule includes a “reasonable attorney’s fees” standard.

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.” (Martino, 182 Cal.App.3d at 559.)

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 to 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.)

In determining whether the requested attorney’s fees are “reasonable,” the Court’s

“first step involves the lodestar figure—a calculation based on the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the lawyer’s hourly rate. The lodestar figure may then be adjusted, based on consideration of facts specific to the case, in order to fix the fee at the fair market value for the legal services provided.” (Gorman v. Tassajara Development Corp. (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 770, 774 [internal citations omitted].)

In determining whether to adjust the lodestar figure, the Court may consider the nature and difficulty of the litigation, the amount of money involved, the skill required and employed to handle the case, the attention given, the success or failure, and other circumstances in the case. (EnPalm LLC v. Teitler (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 770, 774; PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095.)

“ ‘The reasonable market value of the attorney's services is the measure of a reasonable hourly rate. [Citations.] This standard applies regardless of whether the attorneys claiming fees charge nothing for their services, charge at below-market or discounted rates, represent the client on a straight contingent fee basis, or are in-house counsel. [Citations.]’ ” (Center For Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 603, 619.)

“The experienced trial judge is the best judge of the value of professional services rendered in his court.” (PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095.)

C. Discussion

Plaintiff moves for an award of attorney’s fees and costs against Defendants HC Automotive, Inc., RHC Automotive, Inc., and Capital One, N.A., following Defendants’ unsuccessful appeal, in the amount of $48,299.00, plus an award of attorney’s fees and costs incurred in bringing this instant motion in the amount of $2,089.50, for a total amount of $50,318.50. (Motion, p. 2:4-11.)

Defendants do not dispute that Plaintiff is the prevailing party on appeal, as the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision without modification. The Court finds that Plaintiff is the prevailing party on appeal and thus is entitled to seek an award of reasonable attorney’s fees.

1. Hourly Rate

Plaintiff seeks to recover for the following rates for his counsel and paralegal:

· Attorney David Valdez, Jr.: $440.00/hour, for 0.6 hours, equaling $264.00;

· Attorney David Valdez, Jr.: $465.00/hour, for 4.9 hours, equaling $2,278.50;

· Attorney David Valdez, Jr.: $495.00/hour, for 25.3 hours, equaling $12,523.50;

· Attorney Steven A. Simons: $650.00/hour, for 55 hours, equaling $33,150.00; and

· Paralegal Jessica Cueva: $130.00/hour, for 0.1 hours, equaling $13.00. (Motion, p. 6:19-26.)

In opposition, Defendants argue that “Plaintiff's counsel David Valdez and Steven Simons have failed to provide any admissible evidence that their hourly rate is reasonable and customary in the community.” (Opp., p. 3:20-21.) Defendants maintain that “although Attorney Valdez and Attorney Simons have provided declaration in which each attorney has respectively listed their attorney rates and their experience, this is not admissible evidence.” (Id. at p. 3:21-23.) Defendants argue that “the Court cannot rely on an attorney’s self-serving and unsworn hearsay to conclusively establish that their hourly rates are the prevailing rates for attorneys working within the community where the Court is located.” (Id. at p. 3:23-25.) Instead, Defendants assert that “the Court should award the hourly rate charged by Defendants’ counsel ($300).” (Id. at p. 3:23-26.)

In reply, Plaintiff argues that the Court has already found that his counsel’s rates are reasonable because in the December 6, 2018 minute order, the Court found that “the hourly rates of $420 and $440 to be reasonable for Mr. Valdez and found the hourly rate of $650 to be reasonable for Mr. Simons.” (Reply, p. 2:10-14.) Plaintiff also argues that “Defendants’ opposition to this motion fails to explain how two additional years of experience, coupled with a successful result in the Court of Appeal, should reduce Plaintiff Counsels’ reasonable hourly rate, which this Court has already approved.” (Id. at p. 2:17-20.)

Plaintiff’s counsel provides declaration in which they attest to their experiences, education, rates of attorney’s with comparable skill, and overall reasonableness of their hourly rates. (Simons Decl., ¶¶ 1, 4-6; Valdez Decl., ¶¶ 1, 3, 4, 6-9, 14-15.) The Court finds that the hourly rates requested by Plaintiff for his counsel are reasonable and commensurate with rates charged by attorneys with comparable skill and experience.

2. Reasonable Hours Incurred

Plaintiff’s counsel provide their billing invoices as attachments to this motion. (Evidence in Support of Motion, Exs. 2, 3; Valdez Decl., ¶¶ 17-20; Simons Decl., ¶¶ 7-10.) Plaintiff includes the Simons Summary and Valdez Summary, attached as Exhibits 2 and 3 to “show that the number of hours used to calculate the amount of attorney’s fees is 85.9 hours plus 0.1 hours of paralegal time.” (Motion, p. 6:15-18.) Plaintiff’s counsel asserts that Plaintiff “has also incurred reasonable attorney fees and costs in connection with bringing the present Motion, totaling $2,089.50 consisting of 4.1 hours of [Counsel Valdez’s] time at $495.00/hour and a $60.00 filing fee.” (Valdez Decl., ¶ 24.)

In opposition, Defendants argue that “the Court should reduce the amount of fees claimed by Plaintiff’s counsel because the number of hours devoted to the appeal constitute block billing.” (Opp., p. 1:20-22.) Defendants provide three examples of block billing:

· December 15, 2019 by Attorney Simons for “Further preparation of draft brief etc.” for 4.90 hours;

· December 16, 2019 by Attorney Simons for “Further preparation of draft brief etc.” for 3.80 hours;

· February 7, 2020 by Attorney Simons for “Review of final D. Valdez edits, minor changes opt brief, including formatting, etc.” for 1.40 hours. (Id. at p. 2:14-20.)

Defendants argue that these “examples constitute ‘block billing’ because Plaintiff counsel has made it impossible to understand what actual time a particular task actually took.” (Id. at p. 2:14-20.) Defendants maintain that “it is the Plaintiff’s burden to prove and justify its billing and failing to itemize Plaintiff counsel’s time should eliminate or substantially reduce the award in this case.” (Id. at p. 2:26-28.)

In reply, Plaintiff argues that “there is no explanation by Defendants as to why preparation of an appellate brief, or the research performed by counsel, would not be compensable.” (Reply, pp. 2:28-3:2.)

Defendants have failed to offer any explanation as to why all of the time spent on “further preparation of draft brief” and “review of D. Valdez edits, minor changes opt brief, including formatting” would not be compensable. Further, Defendants have not explained how the identification of these three entries would justify the elimination or substantial reduction of the award in this case. (See Opp., p. 2:26-28.)

After analyzing the work performed and reviewing the billing statements provided, the Court finds that the fees requested are reasonable.

The attorney fee award amount is allocated as follows:

Name

Rate

Hours

Total

David Valdez, Jr.

$440.00

0.6

$264.00

David Valdez, Jr.

$465.00

4.9

$2,278.50

David Valdez, Jr.

$495.00

29.4

$14,553.00

Steven A. Simons

$650.00

55.00

$33,150.00

Jessica Cueva

$130.00

0.1

$13.00

Total

$50,258.50

The Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $50,318.50, which includes $50,258.50 for attorneys’ fees, plus the motion filing fee of $60.00.

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