This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/23/2019 at 10:21:55 (UTC).

MIKE LIN VS JOE CHANG

Case Summary

On 06/30/2015 MIKE LIN filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against JOE CHANG. 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 Disposed - Judgment Entered.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7752

  • Filing Date:

    06/30/2015

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Judgment Entered

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Pomona Courthouse South

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

OKI, DAN THOMAS

GLORIA WHITE-BROWN

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

LIN MIKE

Defendants and Cross Defendants

CHANG JOE

HSU MAGGIE C.

LIN STACY

SMELLY POT LLC

TSUI CHIN HAO

Defendants and Cross Plaintiffs

HSU MAGGIE C.

TSUI CHIN HAO

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

MAK ESQ. JAIMIE

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff Attorneys

HSU ROGER C. ESQ.

LU TONY M. LAW OFFICES OF

ALTAGEN ROBERT STEVEN

HSU ROGER C ESQ.

Other Attorneys

NIU WILLIAM L.

 

Court Documents

Notice of Case Management Conference

7/1/2015: Notice of Case Management Conference

Answer

9/9/2015: Answer

Unknown

8/8/2016: Unknown

Unknown

8/31/2016: Unknown

Unknown

9/26/2016: Unknown

Other -

10/21/2016: Other -

Witness List

4/14/2017: Witness List

Unknown

7/14/2017: Unknown

Unknown

7/24/2017: Unknown

Minute Order

2/8/2018: Minute Order

Brief

3/27/2018: Brief

Unknown

4/26/2018: Unknown

Order

8/9/2018: Order

Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel

8/14/2018: Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel

Order Granting Attorney"s Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel-Civil

9/14/2018: Order Granting Attorney"s Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel-Civil

Declaration

9/25/2018: Declaration

Minute Order

11/26/2018: Minute Order

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

12/31/2018: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

150 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/07/2019
  • Judgment ((Corrected) in Favor of Mike Lin and against Stacy Lin)

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  • 05/01/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: (Judgment) - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 04/22/2019
  • Objection (To [Proposed] Judgment); Filed by Maggie C. Hsu (Defendant)

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  • 04/18/2019
  • Objection (OBJECTION TO MICHAEL LINs PROPOSED JUDGMENT and NOTICE OF SUBMISSION OF STACY LINS PROPOSED JUDGMENT OF MICHAEL LIN AGAINST STACY LIN); Filed by Stacy Lin (Defendant)

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  • 04/11/2019
  • Judgment ([Proposed] Judgment in Favor of Mike Lin and Against Stacy Lin); Filed by Mike Lin (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/28/2019
  • Notice (of Submission of Proposed Judgment); Filed by Mike Lin (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/04/2019
  • Notice (of Ruling); Filed by Maggie C. Hsu (Defendant)

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  • 02/22/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Status Conference - Held

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  • 02/22/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Status Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/15/2019
  • Declaration (Declaration of Maggie Hsu Re: Inability to Provide an Accounting for Smelly Pot, LLC.); Filed by Maggie C. Hsu (Defendant)

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192 More Docket Entries
  • 09/08/2015
  • Summons (on Complaint)

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  • 08/05/2015
  • Case Management Statement; Filed by Mike Lin (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/24/2015
  • Rtn of Service of Summons & Compl; Filed by Mike Lin (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/24/2015
  • Rtn of Service of Summons & Compl; Filed by Mike Lin (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2015
  • Rtn of Service of Summons & Compl; Filed by Mike Lin (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2015
  • Rtn of Service of Summons & Compl; Filed by Mike Lin (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/01/2015
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/30/2015
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Mike Lin (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/30/2015
  • Summons (on Complaint)

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  • 06/30/2015
  • Complaint; Filed by Mike Lin (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: KC067752    Hearing Date: October 24, 2019    Dept: J

HEARING DATE: Thursday, October 24, 2019

NOTICE: OK[1]

RE: Lin v. Chang (KC067752)

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Plaintiff Mike Lin’s MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEY’S FEES AND COSTS

Responding Party: None (unopposed, as of 10/18/19, 10:42 a.m.; due 10/10/19)

Tentative Ruling

Plaintiff Mike Lin’s Motion for Award of Attorney’s Fees and Costs is GRANTED in the reduced amount of $343,757.00 in fees.

Background

Plaintiff Mike Lin (“Plaintiff”) alleges that in 2013, Plaintiff provided $55,000.00 to defendants in relation to Smelly Pot, LLC (“LLC”), which owns and operates the Smelly Pot Restaurant in Rowland Heights, California. Plaintiff alleges that, pursuant to the LLC Operating Agreement, Plaintiff became a 25% interest holder and became entitled to access to both the LLC books and records and distributions. Plaintiff alleges that Plaintiff has not received any distributions and that defendants have continuously withheld Plaintiff’s access to the LLC books and records.

On June 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint, asserting causes of action against Defendants Joe Chang, Stacy Lin (“S. Lin”), Maggie C. Hsu (“Hsu”), LLC and Does 1-50 for:

1. Breach of Fiduciary Duty

2. Breach of Duty of Loyalty

3. Breach of Contract

4. Fraud

5. Claim and Delivery

6. Misappropriation (California Common Law)

7. Injunctive Relief

8. Conversion

9. Unjust Enrichment

10. Imposition of Constructive Trust

11. Accounting

On September 8, 2015, Hsu filed a cross-complaint, asserting causes of action against S. Lin, Chin Hao Tsui aka Jack Tsui (“Tsui”), LLC and Roes 1-100 for:

1. Fraud

2. Negligent Misrepresentation

3. Intentional Misrepresentation

4. Unjust Enrichment

5. Rescission

6. Declaratory Relief

7. Constructive Trust

On February 22, 2016, Tsui filed a cross-complaint, asserting a cause of action against Hsu and Poes 1-100 for:

1. Declaratory Relief

The matter proceeded to court trial on February 6, 2018. On April 30, 2018, the Statement of Decision was filed. On May 24, 2018, an Interlocutory Judgment was filed.

On May 7, 2019, the “Corrected Judgment in Favor of Mike Lin and Against Stacy Lin” was filed.

Legal Standard

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. . .”

Corporations Code § 17704.10(g) states that “[i]n any action under this section or under Section 17713.07, if the court finds the failure of the limited liability company to comply with the requirements of this section is without justification, the court may award an amount sufficient to reimburse the person bringing the action for the reasonable expenses incurred by that person, including attorney’s fees, in connection with the action or proceeding.”

Discussion

Plaintiff moves the court for an award of attorney’s fees in the amount of $346,099.93 plus costs pursuant to the memorandum of costs, per CCP § 1033.5 and California Rules of Court Rule 3.1702, on the basis that Plaintiff obtained a judgment in his favor and against S. Lin on May 7, 2019, is therefore the prevailing party, and the court specifically stated in the judgment that Plaintiff was entitled to attorney’s fees pursuant to a noticed motion.

Entitlement to Fees

On April 30, 2018, the Statement of Decision was filed; Paragraph 6 under the Heading “DISPOSITION” as to Plaintiff’s complaint provided that “Plaintiff Mike Lin is entitled to recover from defendant Stacy Lin his reasonable expenses, including attorneys’ fees, incurred in connection with this proceeding pursuant to Corporations Code § 17704.10(g). This request is to be brought by way of a noticed motion. . . Plaintiff Mike Lin is deemed to be the prevailing party herein.” Page 3, lines 21-23 of the Interlocutory Judgment filed May 24, 2019 includes the foregoing language. On May 7, 2019, the “Corrected Judgment in Favor of Mike Lin and Against Stacy Lin” (“Corrected Judgment”) was filed; the Corrected Judgment provides that “Mike shall be entitled to an award of his reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred in connection with the litigation of the above-captioned matter against Stacy Lin only, with the amount to be determined by way of a separate noticed motion to be filed by Mike.”

Plaintiff has established his entitlement to attorney’s fees.

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) 167 Cal.App.4th 1379, 1393-1394 [citation omitted].)

“[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 $346,099.93. Plaintiff is currently self-represented. The motion is unopposed. Plaintiff has submitted a declaration from Jaimie Mak (“Mak”) of The Meridian Law Firm, who served as attorney of record for Plaintiff from June 30, 2015 to September 2018. (Mak Decl., ¶¶1-2.) Mak advises that she worked on this matter from July 2014 to September 2018 for a total of 882 billed hours, at an hourly rate of $385.00. (Id., ¶7.) Mak states that an outstanding balance of $275,073.50 in attorney’s fees is due and owing to her office and that, to date, $64,500.00 in attorney’s fees has been paid by Plaintiff. (Id.) Mak further states that her firm is owed $4,159.72 in costs. (Id., 8:3-5.) Mak has attached billing records as Exhibit 3 to her declaration. (Id., ¶14, Exh. 3.)

Plaintiff has also submitted a declaration from attorney Natalia Minassian (“Minassian”), who advises that her firm, Hatkoff & Minassian, “handled tasks relating to this matter beginning in October 2018.” (Id., ¶4.) Minassian attaches her firm’s invoices as Exhibit 1 to her declaration and advises that her firm billed at an hourly rate of $395.00. (Minassian Decl., ¶3, Exh. 1.) The invoices reflect that Plaintiff was billed $4,187.00 in fees. (Id.)

The amount of attorney’s fees appears to be $343,757.00 [i.e., 882 hours x $385.00= $339,570.00, plus $4,187.00]. Based on the court’s own experience and knowledge, as well as on the experience and qualifications of counsel as set forth in their respective declarations, the court finds that the requested hourly rates of $385.00 and $395.00, respectively, are reasonable. S. Lin has not opposed the motion.

As to the number of hours claimed to have been expended, it appears to the court that this case (which has been pending since June 30, 2015) was heavily litigated. Mak has attached the register of actions and proceedings held until September 2018 as Exhibit 2 to her declaration and explains that the lawsuit involved six names parties, five individual defendants/cross-defendants and two related cross-complaints as well as a number of ancillary third-party related entities and individuals; that the complaint involved a series of twelve complex causes of action beyond a breach of contract claim including, but not limited to, breach of fiduciary duties, accounting, breach of the California Revised Uniform Limited Liability Act and the prior California Limited Liability Company Law; that there was a series of different attorneys and the substitution of attorney on behalf of the primary defendant, S. Lin, in this case, which resulted in the advancement of an entirely different legal defense at the eve of trial set in the Spring of 2017 and continued by the court, including belated dispositive motions for judgment on the pleadings; that the altered position of the defense resulted in significant law and motion and modification of plaintiff’s trial strategy; that the delayed production of previously undisclosed documents and data by defendants in this case changed the course of the presentation of forensic accounting in this case and that an aggressive pursuit of extensive discovery was required. (Mak Decl., ¶ 13, Exh..) Again, S. Lin has failed to oppose the motion and thus has made no challenge as to the reasonableness of the fees requested.

Accordingly, the court grants the unopposed motion in the amount of $343,757.00.

Issue of Costs

 

Plaintiff’s request for costs must be addressed via the memorandum of costs procedure.

[1] The motion was filed July 5, 2019; it was mail-served on that date to attorney Robert Altagen, who is listed in court records as S. Lin’s counsel. No substitution of attorney has been filed. Court records reflect that “PPRC Law, APC” may be serving as S. Lin’s counsel on the appeal.