On 09/08/2016 TANIA PULLIAM filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against HNL AUTOMOTIVE INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are BARBARA M. SCHEPER and EDWARD B. MORETON. The case status is Disposed - Judgment Entered.
Disposed - Judgment Entered
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
BARBARA M. SCHEPER
EDWARD B. MORETON
DOES 1 THROUGH 75
HOOMAN NISSAN OF LONG BEACH
HUDSON INSURANCE COMPANY
HNL AUTOMOTIVE INC.
TD AUTO FINANCE LLC
HNL AUTOMOTIVE INC.
TD AUTO FINANCE LLC
DOES 1 THROUGH 75
HOOMAN NISSAN OF LONG BEACH
HUDSON INSURANCE COMPANY
ROSNER HALLEN D. ESQ.
MCCREARY DUNCAN ESQ.
GASCOU CHRISTIAN J. ESQ.
1/2/2018: REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL
1/19/2018: OPPOSITION TO MOTION IN LIMINE NO.2 TO DAVID ARNOLD FROM TESTIFYING AT TRIAL, ETC
4/24/2018: STIPULATION, RECEIPT AND ORDER RE RELEASE OF CIVIL EXHIBITS
5/29/2018: JUDGMENT ON JURY VERDICT
8/16/2018: DEFENDANTS' OBJECTIONS TO EVIDENCE SUBMITTED IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES
8/16/2018: DEFENDANTS' OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS ON APPEAL; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF DUNCAN MCCREARY
8/22/2018: DECLARATION OF MICHAEL A. KLITZKE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR AN ORDER TAXING COSTS
8/22/2018: PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS OBJECTIONS TO EVIDENCE SUBMITTED IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES
6/30/2017: PLAINTIFF'S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION. IN LIMINE NO. 5 RE THE DISCLAIMER ON WINDOW STICKER [MOTION IN LIMINE 5 OF 5]
7/17/2017: OPPOSITION TO MOTION IN LIMINE NO. 3 TO EXCLUDE ASSERTION AND EVIDENCE OF AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES
10/31/2017: PLAINTIFF'S SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEF RE MOTION IN LIMINE NOS. 1 THROUGH 3 TO PRECLUDE DEFENDANTS FROM INTRODUCING WITNESSES, EVIDENCE, AND DEFENSES
11/15/2017: Minute Order
11/17/2017: PLAINTIFF'S EXHIBIT LIST
11/17/2017: HUDSON INSURANCE COMPANY'S TRIAL EXHIBIT LIST
Plaintiff's Motion to Set a Bond Pending Defendants' Appeal; Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Declaration (Declaration of Hallen D. rosner in Support of Motion to Set a Bond Pending Defendants' Appeal); Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Notice of Motion (AND MOTION TO SET A BOND PENDING DEFENDANTS' APPEAL); Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Request for Judicial Notice; Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Declaration (of David Valdez Jr.); Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Declaration (of Richard Garcia in Support of Motion to Set a Bond Pending Defendants' Appeal); Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Declaration (of Michael A. Klitzke in Support of Motion to Set a Bond Pending Defendants' Appeal); Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Notice of Ruling; Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
at 09:30 AM in Department 44, Edward B. Moreton, Presiding; Hearing on Motion - Other (Motion to Set a Bond Pending Defendants' Appeal) - Held - Motion DeniedRead MoreRead Less
Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore (Jennifer Spree Fonseca, #12840)Read MoreRead Less
Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
PROOF OF SERVICE OF NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCERead MoreRead Less
Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCERead MoreRead Less
SUMMONS PLAINTIFF S STATEMENT OF ACTUAL AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES [CODE OF CIV. PROC. 425.115]Read MoreRead Less
Complaint; Filed by Tania Pulliam (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
PLAINTIFF S AFFIDAVIT OF VENUE PURSUANT TO CALIFORNIA CIVIL CODE 1780(D)Read MoreRead Less
COMPLAINT 1. VIOLATION OF THE CONSUMERS LEGAL REMEDIES ACT -EQUITABLE AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF, ONLY; ETCRead MoreRead Less
SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC633169 Hearing Date: September 29, 2020 Dept: 30
Pulliam vs. HNL Automotive, Inc., et. al., Case No. BC633169
Tentative Ruling re: Defendant’s Motion to Tax Costs
Defendant TD Auto Finance LLC (TDAF) moves to tax the attorney fees sought in the memorandum of costs as well as $4,444.03 from the total post judgment costs of $5,697.80. The motion is granted in part.
As an initial matter the Court declines to limit any award against TDAF pursuant to the Holder Rule. The Court has no jurisdiction to address the propriety of the initial award of attorney’s fees against TDAF since this matter is on appeal. Finally, the Court declines to stay this motion pending decision by the Court of Appeal.
Pursuant to Civil Code section 1794, “If the buyer prevails in an action under this section, the buyer shall be allowed by the court to recover as part of the judgment a sum equal to the aggregate amount of costs and expenses ... determined by the court to have been reasonably incurred by the buyer in connection with the commencement and prosecution of such action.” (Civ. Code, § 1794, subd. (d).)
A judgment creditor is entitled to the reasonable and necessary costs
of enforcing a judgment. Attorney’s fees incurred in enforcing a judgment are included as costs collectible under this title if the underlying judgment includes an award of attorney’s fees to the judgment creditor pursuant to subparagraph (A) of paragraph (10) of subdivision (a) of Section 1033.5.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 685.040.)
A judgment debtor may “apply to the court on noticed motion to have costs taxed by the court.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 685.070, subd. (c).) The motion must be filed and served “[b]efore the judgment is fully satisfied but not later than two years after the costs have been incurred.” (Conservatorship of McQueen (2014) 59 Cal.4th 602, 607, n. 4.)
Here, Plaintiff obtained a jury verdict and an award of $169,602 in attorney fees. (Le Decl., ¶ 2, Exh. A.) Since the underlying judgment contained an award of attorney fees, Plaintiff may recover attorney fees as costs in enforcing the judgment. (Code Civ. Proc., § 685.040.)
Plaintiff filed a memorandum of costs signed by attorney Michael A. Klitzke. On a motion to tax costs, “the verified memorandum of costs is prima facie evidence of their propriety, of the items listed on it, and the burden is on the party challenging these costs to demonstrate that they were not reasonable or necessary. [Citations.]” (Adams v. Ford Motor Co. (2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 1475, 1486.) Plaintiff did fail to attach the billing invoices of her counsel to the memorandum of costs. However, Plaintiff produces the verified billing invoices in the opposition to this motion. (Klitzke Decl., Exh. 1.) TDAF does not argue that counsel’s rates are unreasonable nor does TDAF argue that the amount of time spent on any of the tasks was unreasonable.
In order to overcome the presumption of reasonableness of attorney fees, the opposing side must produce evidence and cannot merely conclude in their memorandum of points and authorities that fees are not reasonable. TDAF argues that the billing entries are not reasonable or necessary but produces no evidence in support of this argument. (See Premier Medical Management Systems, Inc. v. California Insurance Guarantee Association (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 550, 560 (emphasizing that opposing parties “submitted no evidence that the hours claimed by counsel were excessive,” and declining to “declare as a matter of law that the hours were unreasonable”); Villanueva v. City of Colton (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1204 (opposing party “offered no evidence of any kind which might have warranted a reduced fee award.”).) “Mere statements in the points and authorities accompanying its notice of motion to strike cost bill and the declaration of its counsel are insufficient to rebut the prima facie showing.” (Rappenecker v. Sea-Land Service, Inc. (1979) 93 Cal.App.3d 256, 266 (Rappenecker).)
TDAF does point to a few duplicate entries. Plaintiff concedes that these entries were duplicated in error in the supplemental brief and has deleted the time entries. Accordingly, Plaintiff has lowered her fee request to $42,946.50 for 133.8 hours of work. (Supp. Klitzke Decl., ¶ 3, Exh. 5.)
TDAF argues the some of the billing entries are prohibited block billing and therefore all the attorney fees should be taxed as a result. Block-billing is generally disfavored. (See Heritage Pac. Fin. LLC v. Monroy (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 972, 1010 [block billing problematic when the practice “prevents the court … from discerning which tasks are compensable and which are not”].) The Court finds that this is not a problem in this case. The block-billing entries that TDAF specifically objects to are solely related to driving to and from post-judgment hearings. Thus, there is no vagueness to these billing entries and the costs appear to be reasonable and necessary to pursue post-judgment enforcement.
TDAF further objects specifically to the $1,880 that TDAF paid to Plaintiff to settle the discovery dispute between the parties. TDAF argues that it would be double recovery to allow Plaintiff to recover these costs. Plaintiff argues that the $1,880 payment did not pay for attorney fees, costs, or expenses incurred in drafting the motions, rather the payment was simply to settle the outstanding issue of sanctions against TDAF. The Court disagrees with Plaintiff. Had the motions gone forward, those sanctions would have been to compensate Plaintiff’s counsel for work done on the motions to compel. Therefore, the Court strikes these costs.
Finally, TDAF objects to Plaintiff’s fees incurred in opposing this motion. TDAF only makes conclusory arguments and does not produce any evidence showing why fees cannot be recovered on this motion. The fees expended on this motion are $6,944. This includes $2,624 spent on the opposition, and $4,192 meeting and conferring on TDAF’s request for supplemental briefing, reviewing the supplemental briefing, and drafting this Supplemental Brief. (Klitzke Oppos. Decl., ¶7; Supp. Klitzke Decl., ¶ 6.) Counsel anticipates an additional $128 for appearing at the hearing remotely. (Supp. Klitzke Decl., ¶ 6.) The Court finds these amounts reasonable and thus will not tax them.
In total, the Court is taxing $1880 from the requested $42,946.50, representing a new total of $41,066.50. Including the fees for this motion, the total of attorney fees awarded is $48,138.50.
Finally, TDAF seeks to tax $4,444.03 in costs for: (1) $197.80 for postage and photocopying, (2) $93.74 for investigation fees, (3) $344.03 for messenger costs, (4) $1,473.46 for travel expenses, (5) $2,035 in court reporter fees, and (6) $300 for unexplained fees, which are not allowed under Code of Civil Procedure Section 1033.5, subdivision (b).
The Court may use its discretion to allow the fees that are not strictly filing fees, as the prima facie verified memorandum of costs shows that these items appear to be reasonably necessary to the litigation. The costs associated with attorney messenger and delivery services has been upheld in multiple appellate cases. (Ladas v. California State Auto. Assn. (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 761, 774–776 (Ladas); Sanford v. Rasnick (2016) 246 Cal.App.4th 1121, 1132–1133 (Sanford).)
The Beverly-Song Act allows a successful plaintiff to recover both “costs” and “expenses.” (See Civ. Code, § 1794, subd. (d).) Courts have held that “it is clear the Legislature intended the word ‘expenses’ to cover items not included in the detailed statutory definition of ‘costs.”’ (Jensen v. BMW of North America, Inc. (1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 112, 137 (Jensen).) The court in Jensen held that “[t]he legislative history indicates the Legislature exercised its power to permit the recovery of expert witness fees by prevailing buyers under the Act … ,” noting that the legislature included “expenses” in the lemon law act because “[t]he addition of awards of “costs and expenses” by the court to the consumer to cover such out-of-pocket expenses as filing fees, expert witness fees, marshal’s fees, etc., should open the litigation process to everyone.’ [Citation.]” (Ibid.)
Moreover, these costs are exactly the kinds of costs that Civil Code section 1794 covers, as ordinary consumers may not be able to pursue a remedy without the protections of this statute. (See Wohlgemuth v. Catepillar, Inc. (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 1252, 1262 [“the provision for recovery of costs and attorney fees in section 1794(d) is an important aspect of this consumer protection, and without it many would not be financially able to pursue a remedy.”].)
Finally, the “unexplained fees” have been adequately explained. These fees were for two ex parte applications and for a bench warrant. (Opposition, at pp. 9:26-10:1.)
The Court denies the motion and will not tax Plaintiff’s other costs.
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