This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/23/2019 at 10:50:32 (UTC).

LUIS RODRIGUEZ VS. SECRET RECIPES, INC.

Case Summary

On 09/28/2015 LUIS RODRIGUEZ filed a Property - Commercial Eviction lawsuit against SECRET RECIPES, INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Burbank Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are DONNA FIELDS GOLDSTEIN and WILLIAM D. STEWART. The case status is Disposed - Judgment Entered.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****4549

  • Filing Date:

    09/28/2015

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Judgment Entered

  • Case Type:

    Property - Commercial Eviction

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Burbank Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

DONNA FIELDS GOLDSTEIN

WILLIAM D. STEWART

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Respondents

RODRIQUEZ LUIS

AHMAD MOHAMAD

Defendant and Appellant

SECRET RECIPES INC. A CALIFORNIA CORP.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

TOMSIC GERALD

ABRAMSON MICHAEL ALAN

Defendant Attorneys

GILBERT R. GEILIM ESQ

GANJI HANI

 

Court Documents

Unknown

7/27/2018: Unknown

Unknown

9/24/2018: Unknown

Request for Judicial Notice

10/12/2018: Request for Judicial Notice

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

10/19/2018: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

Declaration

12/12/2018: Declaration

Request for Judicial Notice

12/24/2018: Request for Judicial Notice

Motion to Compel

12/24/2018: Motion to Compel

Notice of Motion

12/27/2018: Notice of Motion

Opposition

12/27/2018: Opposition

Other -

12/31/2018: Other -

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

1/11/2019: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Notice

1/23/2019: Notice

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

1/24/2019: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Reply

2/1/2019: Reply

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

2/8/2019: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

Notice of Ruling

2/8/2019: Notice of Ruling

Brief

4/2/2019: Brief

Unknown

5/30/2019: Unknown

105 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/05/2019
  • Appeal - Notice Court Reporter to Prepare Appeal Transcript (;B296245;); Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/04/2019
  • Appeal - Reporter Appeal Transcript Process Fee Paid (Respondent); Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Respondent)

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  • 06/04/2019
  • Appeal - Reporter Appeal Transcripts Deposit Paid (Respondent)

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  • 06/03/2019
  • Respondent's Ntc Designating Record of Appeal; Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Respondent)

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  • 05/30/2019
  • Appeal Document (;B296245; NOA 3/7/19; Turn Down Letter re: Reporter's Transcript.); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/30/2019
  • Appeal - Notice Court Reporter to Prepare Appeal Transcript (;B296245;); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/28/2019
  • Appellate Order Extension of Time (NOA:03/07/19 B296245); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/17/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department B; Hearing on Application for Order for Appearance and Examination (reAndreh Koygani) - Held

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  • 05/17/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Application for Order for Appearance and Examinati...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/30/2019
  • Notice of Ruling; Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Plaintiff)

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151 More Docket Entries
  • 11/19/2015
  • Application ; Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/19/2015
  • Writ issued; Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/06/2015
  • at 10:30 AM in Department B; Non-Jury Trial (Court Trial - Short Cause; End of Trial) -

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  • 10/29/2015
  • at 08:30 AM in Department B; Status Conference (Status Conference; Trial and Conference Set) -

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  • 10/27/2015
  • Request for Entry of Default / Judgment; Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/27/2015
  • Answer; Filed by Secret Recipes, Inc., a California Corp. (Defendant)

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  • 10/27/2015
  • Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint; Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/29/2015
  • Summons; Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/29/2015
  • Summons Issued; Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/28/2015
  • Complaint; Filed by Luis Rodriquez (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: EC064549    Hearing Date: March 13, 2020    Dept: NCB

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

North Central District

Department B

luis rodriguez,

Plaintiff,

v.

Secret recipes, inc.,

Defendant.

Case No.: EC064549

Related with: EC065007

Hearing Date: March 13, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

motion for attorneys’ fees on appeal

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Luis Rodriguez (“Plaintiff”) commenced this unlawful detainer action against Defendant Secret Recipes, Inc. (“Defendant”). This action proceeded to a bench trial on November 6, 2015. Defendant did not appear. The Court then entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff on November 18, 2015.

On January 28, 2020, Plaintiff filed this instant motion for attorney’s fees on appeal. On March 2, 2020, Defendant filed an opposition brief.

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Plaintiff requests judicial notice of: (1) the judgment dated November 18, 2015 filed in this case; (2) the Notice of Appeal dated March 7, 2019 filed in this case; (3) the Appellate Court’s Order on Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss Appeal dated July 9, 2019 in LASC Case No. EC064549 and the Court of Appeal Case No. B296245; (4) the Partial Remittitur dated September 9, 2019 in both cases; (5) the Appellate Court’s order on Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss Appeal dated December 19, 2019 in both cases; and (6) the Remittitur dated December 19, 2019 in both cases. The request is granted pursuant to Evidence Code, §452(d).

DISCUSSION

A. Relevant Background

By way of background, the Court provides this relevant timeline of events:

· On 11/16/18, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses to post-judgment SROGs. Defendant then filed a motion for relief from order, which the Court denied on 1/11/19. Defendant appealed the Court’s 1/11/19 order (“Appeal No. 1”). (Pl.’s RJN, Ex. 2.)

· On 2/8/19, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel Defendant’s further responses to the post-judgment RPD, set 2. On 3/7/19, Defendant filed a Notice of Appeal on this order (“Appeal No. 2”). (Pl.’s RJN, Ex. 2.)

· On 5/16/16, Defendant filed a motion to vacate default judgment, which the Court denied on 7/8/16. On 12/12/18, Defendant filed a second motion to vacate default judgment, which the Court denied on 2/8/19. Defendant filed a Notice of Appeal on this order (“Appeal No. 3”). (Pl.’s RJN, Ex. 2.)

· On 5/22/19, Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss Defendant’s appeal as to Appeal Nos. 1-3. On 7/9/19, the Court of Appeal issued an Order dismissing Appeal Nos. 1-2, on the ground that they were not appealable orders. (Pl.’s RJN, Ex. 3.) On 9/9/19, the Court of Appeal issued its Partial Remittitur, which attached the 7/9/19 order. (Pl.’s RJN, Ex. 4.) In the Court of Appeal’s Partial Remittitur, it stated: “Respondent(s) [Plaintiff] to recover costs on appeal.” (Id.)

· Although the Court of Appeal denied the motion to dismiss as to Order No. 3 on 7/9/19, it dismissed Appeal No. 3 on 12/19/19 pursuant to Defendant’s request. (Pl.’s RJN, Ex. 5.) The Remittitur was issued the same day. (Pl.’s RJN, Ex. 6.) In the Court of Appeal’s Remittitur, it stated: “Respondent to recover costs on appeal.” (Id.)

B. Merits of Motion: Entitlement to Attorney’s Fees

Plaintiff moves for attorney’s fees on appeal pursuant to CCP §1033.5(a)(10)(A), Civil Code §1717, and CRC Rules 8.278(d)(2) and 3.1702(c).

CRC Rule 8.278(a)(2) states that the prevailing party is the respondent if the Court of Appeal affirms the judgment without modification or dismisses the appeal. CCP §1033.5(a)(10) states that an allowable cost includes attorney’s fees, which are authorized by: (A) contract; (B) statute; or (C) the law.

1. Civil Code, §1717(a)

Civil Code, §1717(a) states in relevant part:

(a) 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.

Where a , as set forth above, that provision shall be construed as applying to the entire contract, unless each party was represented by counsel in the negotiation and execution of the contract, and the fact of that representation is specified in the contract.

Reasonable attorney's fees shall be fixed by the court, and shall be an element of the costs of suit.

(b)(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  of the case, there shall be no prevailing party for purposes of this section.

(Civ. Code, §1717(a).)

Plaintiff argues that he is entitled to attorney’s fees pursuant to the Sublease at paragraph 11 and the Master Lease at paragraph 31. (Rodriguez Decl., ¶¶4-5, Ex. 7 [Sublease], Ex. 8 [Master Lease].) The Sublease at paragraph 11 is illegible. The Master Lease is also somewhat illegible, such that the Court is only able to discern the following language:

31. Attorneys’ Fees. If any Party or Broker brings an action or proceeding involving the Premises whether found 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 eb entitled to reasonable attorneys’ 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 [illegible] or judgment. The term, “Prevailing Party” shall include, without limitation, a Party or Broker who substantially obtains or [illegible] the relief sought, as the [illegible], whether by compromise, settlement, judgment, or the abandonment by the other Party or Broker of its claims or defenses. The attorneys’ fees award shall not be computed in accordance with any court fee schedule, but shall be such as to fully reimburse all attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred. In addition, Lessor shall be entitled to attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses incurred in the preparation and service of notices of Default and consultation 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).

(Master Lease, ¶31.)

The terms of the Sublease and Master Lease provided by Plaintiff are illegible. Thus, the Court will continue the motion so that Plaintiff can provide legible copies of the documents for the Court’s review.

C. Amount of Attorney’s Fees Awarded on Appeal

The trial court has broad authority to determine the amount of a reasonable fee. (PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal. 4th 1084, 1095.) The award of attorney fees under section 1717 is governed by equitable principles. (Id.) The experienced trial judge is the best judge of the value of professional services rendered and the trial judge’s decision will not be disturbed unless the appellate court is convinced that it is clearly wrong, i.e., that it abused its discretion. (Id.) The fee setting inquiry in California ordinarily begins with the "lodestar," i.e., the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate. (Id.) California courts have consistently held that 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. (Id.) The lodestar figure may then be adjusted, based on consideration of factors specific to the case, in order to fix the fee at the fair market value for the legal services provided. (Id.) 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.) No specific findings reflecting the Court’s calculations are required. (Wershba v. Apple Computer, Inc. (2001) 91 Cal. App. 4th 224, 254-255.) The record need only show that the attorney fees were awarded according to the ‘lodestar' approach. (Id.)

Plaintiff seeks $44,500.00 in attorney’s fees in connection with his defense against Defendant’s appeal. Plaintiff provides the declaration of his counsel, Michael A. Abramson:

· Mr. Abramson states that approximately 60 of the 71.53 hours he billed in defending against Defendant’s appeal was spent in preparing the motion to dismiss the appeal. (Abramson Decl., ¶8.) He states that he incurred $38,000.00 for this purpose because this required a detailed review of the Superior Court record for appeal, reviewing Defendant’s opening brief, and researching and drafting the opposition. (Id.) He states that considering the complexity of the issues concerning the appealability of post-judgment discovery orders and relief from default, as well as timeliness issues and the disentitlement doctrine make $44,500.00 sought in appeal reasonable and justified. (Id., ¶¶9-10.)

· Mr. Abramson also states that he incurred $6,500.00 in connection with filing the motion for attorney’s fees because he had to review all relevant client bills, invoices, and billing entries to prepare the memorandum and declaration. (Abramson Decl., ¶11.) He states that he spent approximately 7.5 hours. (Id.)

· Mr. Abramson states that he bills at $650/hour, which he believes is reasonable and consistent with the market rate of attorneys with comparable skill and experience. (Abramson Decl., ¶12.) He states that he has practiced law for over 30 years. (Id.)

The Court will continue the motion so that Plaintiff’s counsel may provide billing records and/or invoices for the Court’s review.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees on appeal is continued to March 27, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. Plaintiff is ordered to file a supplemental declaration of counsel that includes legible copies of the Sublease and the Master Lease, as well as Plaintiff’s counsel’s billing records/invoices. The supplemental declaration shall be filed by March 20, 2020 and may not include any additional arguments.

Plaintiff shall provide notice of this order.

Case Number: EC064549    Hearing Date: January 24, 2020    Dept: NCB

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

North Central District

Department B

luis rodriguez,

Plaintiff,

v.

Secret recipes, inc.,

Defendant.

Case No.: EC064549

Related with: EC065007

Hearing Date: January 24, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

motion for monetary sanctions in the amount of $7,920.00 against secret recipes, inc. for misuse of the discovery process

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Luis Rodriguez (“Plaintiff”) commenced this unlawful detainer action against Defendant Secret Recipes, Inc. (“Defendant”). This action proceeded to a bench trial on November 6, 2015. Defendant did not appear. The Court then entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff on November 18, 2015.

On November 26, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to sanctions against Defendant for misuse of the discovery process in the amount of $7,920.00. On January 10, 2020, Defendant filed an opposition brief. On January 16, 2020, Plaintiff filed a reply brief.

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Plaintiff requests judicial notice of: (1) the Court’s February 8, 2019 order regarding Plaintiff’s motion to compel Defendant’s responses to post-judgment requests to produce documents; (2) the Court of Appeal’s order on Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the appeal dated July 9, 2019 and partial remittitur dated September 9, 2019; (3) the Court’s April 15, 2019 order on Defendant’s motion to vacate the December 14, 2018 order; and (4) the Court’s August 16, 2019 order. The request is granted pursuant to Evidence Code, §452(d).

DISCUSSION

By way of background, the Court provides this relevant timeline of events:

· On October 17, 2018, Plaintiff served post-judgment RPD, set two, on Defendant. On November 21, 2018, Defendant served objections to each request. On December 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel further responses to the RPD.

· On February 8, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel Defendant’s further responses to the post-judgment RPD, set two. Defendant was ordered to produce responsive documents in its possession, custody, and control without objection within 20 days of notice of the order. Plaintiff mailed notice of the ruling on February 8, 2019.

· On March 7, 2019, Defendant filed a Notice of Appeal of the February 8, 2019 order (among other orders).

· On August 16, 2019, the Court issued a tentative order on Plaintiff’s Motion to Set an OSC re Contempt for Defendant and Judgment Debtor’s failure to comply with the Court’s February 8, 2019 order. The tentative did not become the final order of the Court. The Court’s minute order reflects that the OSC was continued to September 5, 2019.

· On September 5, 2019, the OSC re Contempt was called for hearing. Upon Plaintiff’s request, the OSC was withdrawn without prejudice.

· On September 9, 2019, the Court of Appeal issued a Partial Remittitur with its attached Order dated July 9, 2019. The Court of Appeal granted Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the appeal with respect to Orders 1 and 2, and denied the motion as to Order 3. Defendant had appealed 3 separate post judgment orders: (1) January 11, 2019 order denying Defendant’s motion for relief from an order compelling responses to interrogatories (Order 1); (2) February 8, 2019 order granting Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses to the requests for production of documents (Order 2); and (3) February 8, 2019 order denying Defendant’s motion to set aside the default judgment on equitable grounds (Order 3).

A. August 16, 2019 Tentative Order

Plaintiff argues that monetary sanctions should be imposed against Defendant because the Court invited Plaintiff to seek sanctions through motion practice against Defendant in its August 16, 2019 tentative order regarding Plaintiff’s motion to set OSC re contempt for Defendant and Judgment Debtor’s failure to comply with the Court’s order of February 8, 2019. In its tentative order, the Court stated that “Defendant’s conduct may be subject to monetary sanctions as discovery abuse, and if, proper discovery is not made promptly, the Court will consider the cost of this motion in connection with such sanctions.” (Pl.’s RJN, Ex. 4 at p.4.)

However, the Court’s August 16, 2019 tentative order did not become the final order of the Court. Rather, the August 16, 2019 minute order reflects that the OSC hearing was continued to September 5, 2019 and that Plaintiff withdrew the OSC on September 5, 2019. As such, this will not be aground upon which the Court will grant the motion to impose sanctions against Defendant.

B. Monetary Sanctions under CCP §2023.030

CCP §2023.030(a) states: “The court may impose a monetary sanction ordering that one engaging in the misuse of the discovery process, or any attorney advising that conduct, or both pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, incurred by anyone as a result of that conduct. The court may also impose this sanction on one unsuccessfully asserting that another has engaged in the misuse of the discovery process, or on any attorney who advised that assertion, or on both. If a monetary sanction is authorized by any provision of this title, the court shall impose that sanction unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”

Misuses of the discovery process include but are not limited to failing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery and disobeying a court order to provide discovery. (CCP §2023.010(d), (g).)

Plaintiff argues that Defendant has failed to comply with the Court’s February 18, 2019 order to provide responses to the RPD, set two, requests.

Based on the moving papers, it does not appear that Defendant has provided any further responses in compliance with the Court’s February 8, 2019 order. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal from the Order on September 9, 2019. There is no further excuse for the Defendant’s failure to comply.

The Court awards the sanctions in the amount of $5,000. Hopefully this will be sufficient to motivate compliance.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Plaintiff’s motion for monetary sanctions against Defendant is granted in the amount of $5,000. Defendant and its counsel of record, jointly and severally, are ordered to pay monetary sanctions in the amount of $5,000 to Plaintiff, by and through counsel, within twenty (20) days of notice of this order.

Plaintiff shall provide notice of this order.