This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 11/05/2020 at 01:57:39 (UTC).

AZARIE COOK VS CHRISTIAN FIELDING SMITH ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/06/2018 AZARIE COOK filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against CHRISTIAN FIELDING SMITH. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is STEPHEN I. GOORVITCH. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****1002

  • Filing Date:

    04/06/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

STEPHEN I. GOORVITCH

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

COOK AZARIE

Defendants and Respondents

SMITH CHRISTIAN FIELDING

DOES 1 TO 25

ENTERPRISE RENT-A-CAR COMPANY OF LOS ANGELES LLC

JUSTER ENERGY MARKETING CORP.

JUST ENERGY LIMITED A DELAWARE CORPORATION

JUST ENERGY SOLUTIONS INC. A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

FIELDING SMITH CHRISTIAN

EAN HOLDINGS LLC

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

WEST COAST TRIAL LAWYERS APLC

RAHMANI NEAMA

Defendant Attorney

PALTA AMIT

 

Court Documents

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: FUNDING OF ANNUITY AND DISMISSAL)

11/3/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: FUNDING OF ANNUITY AND DISMISSAL)

Notice of Ruling

11/4/2020: Notice of Ruling

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE CONTINUANCE OF 5/18/20 ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEA...) OF 04/17/2020

4/17/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE CONTINUANCE OF 5/18/20 ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEA...) OF 04/17/2020

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE CONTINUANCE OF 5/18/20 ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEA...)

4/17/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE CONTINUANCE OF 5/18/20 ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEA...)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (RULING ON SUBMITTED MATTER: STATUS CONFERENCE RE: ATTORNEY FEES) OF 03/20/2020

3/20/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (RULING ON SUBMITTED MATTER: STATUS CONFERENCE RE: ATTORNEY FEES) OF 03/20/2020

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (RULING ON SUBMITTED MATTER: STATUS CONFERENCE RE: ATTORNEY FEES)

3/20/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (RULING ON SUBMITTED MATTER: STATUS CONFERENCE RE: ATTORNEY FEES)

Stipulation and Order to use Certified Shorthand Reporter

3/10/2020: Stipulation and Order to use Certified Shorthand Reporter

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE RE: ATTORNEY FEES)

3/10/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE RE: ATTORNEY FEES)

Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim

2/14/2020: Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim

Notice of Settlement

11/25/2019: Notice of Settlement

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE: NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT) OF 11/25/2019

11/25/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE: NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT) OF 11/25/2019

[Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Person - [PROPOSED ORDER] AND STIPULATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL, FSC (AND RELATED MOTION/DISCOVERY DATES) PERSO

8/19/2019: [Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Person - [PROPOSED ORDER] AND STIPULATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL, FSC (AND RELATED MOTION/DISCOVERY DATES) PERSO

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name) -

10/5/2018: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name) -

Proof of Personal Service

10/31/2018: Proof of Personal Service

Request for Dismissal

4/10/2019: Request for Dismissal

DECLARATION OF JONATHAN BIRDT, ESQ. IN SUPPORT OF APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDLAN AD LITEM

6/21/2018: DECLARATION OF JONATHAN BIRDT, ESQ. IN SUPPORT OF APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDLAN AD LITEM

NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

6/5/2018: NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

4/30/2018: NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

28 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 12/08/2020
  • Hearing12/08/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 32 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Funding of Annuity and Dismissal

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  • 12/08/2020
  • Hearing12/08/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 32 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: sanctions against counsel for plaintiff for failure to appear

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  • 11/04/2020
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by Smith Christian Fielding (Defendant)

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  • 11/03/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 32, Stephen I. Goorvitch, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: (Funding of Annuity and Dismissal) - Not Held - Continued - Party's Motion

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  • 11/03/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Order to Show Cause Re: Funding of Annuity and Dismissal)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/14/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 32, Stephen I. Goorvitch, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: (Funding of Annuity and Dismissal) - Not Held - Continued - Party's Motion

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  • 07/14/2020
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by Azarie Cook (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/14/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Order to Show Cause Re: Funding of Annuity and Dismissal)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/16/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 32, Stephen I. Goorvitch, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal (Settlement) - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 05/18/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 32, Stephen I. Goorvitch, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: (Funding of Annuity and Dismissal) - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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48 More Docket Entries
  • 06/21/2018
  • DocketApplication ; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 06/21/2018
  • DocketAPPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM-CIVIL EX PARTE

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  • 06/05/2018
  • DocketAPPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM-CIV1L EX PARTE

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  • 06/05/2018
  • DocketNOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

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  • 06/05/2018
  • DocketApplication ; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 04/30/2018
  • DocketAPPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM CIVIL

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  • 04/30/2018
  • DocketNOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

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  • 04/30/2018
  • DocketApplication ; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 04/06/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Azarie Cook (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/06/2018
  • DocketCOMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC701002    Hearing Date: March 10, 2020    Dept: 32

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 32

AZARIE COOK,

Plaintiff,

v.

CHRISTIAN FIELDING SMITH, et al.,

Defendant.

Case No.: BC701002

Hearing Date: March 10, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

PETITION TO APPROVE MINOR’S COMPROMISE

Plaintiff Azarie Cook (“Plaintiff”) filed this action, by and through his guardian ad litem, against Christian Fielding Smith, who was driving in the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiff alleges that he was crossing the street when he was hit by Defendant’s automobile. Defendants have offered to settle this case for $700,000.

The Court held a hearing on February 28, 2020, based upon which the Court found that the settlement was fair and reasonable. The Court also approved the costs of $8,171.08, as they were directly related to the litigation. However, there was a dispute over the attorneys’ fees. Plaintiff’s counsel (“Counsel”) is seeking $280,000, or 40% of the total recovery. Plaintiff, by and through his guardian ad litem, opposes that request. Therefore, the Court continued the hearing to March 10, 2020, to review the record in more detail.

This case was referred to Counsel by the Lawyer Referral Service of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (“LACBA-LRS”). (Declaration of H. Dean Aynechi, ¶ 6.) After Counsel accepted the case, the Juvenile Court of the Los Angeles County Superior Court appointed him to represent Plaintiff. (Id., ¶ 9.) The parties executed Counsel’s standard retainer agreement with some changes. (Petition, Attachment #18(a).) Specifically, the parties crossed-out the contingency agreement that Counsel would receive 33.33% of any settlement before filing a complaint, 40% of any settlement after the complaint is filed, and 45% of any settlement or judgment after the trial begins. (Id., ¶ 2.) The parties have provided a copy of the Dependency Court Tort Policy, which governs cases referred by LACBA-LRS. (Declaration of H. Dean Aynechi, Exh. A.) The policy states:

This Tort Protocol shall constitute the essential terms of the retainer agreement between the tort attorney and the client. Fees for services provided by tort attorneys assigned to represent children in accordance with this Protocol shall be governed by the Los Angeles County Superior Court local rules. However, tort attorneys are encouraged to accept the representation of children on a pro bono basis.

(Id., Exh. A., ¶ B.4.) In addition, the policy states: “All appointments are made on a contingency fee basis, with costs to be borne by the tort attorney pending recovery.” (Id., Exh. A, ¶ A.4.)

In determining the appropriate amount of fees, the Court first considers the Local Rules, per the Dependency Court Tort Policy. Local Rule 3.214 states: “When a promissory note, contract, or statute provides for the recovery of reasonable attorneys’ fees, the following schedule will apply to the amount of the new judgment unless otherwise determined by the court.” For contested cases over $100,000, an attorney is entitled to $5,270 plus 2% of the excess over $100,000. If applied to this case, Counsel would receive $17,270, which is a fee of approximately 2.5% of the settlement.

Although Counsel arguably agreed to this amount by accepting the case, the Court finds good cause to deviate from fee provision of Local Rule 3.214 in this case. According to Plaintiff’s counsel’s declaration, he and his staff spent at least 140 hours on the case. (Declaration of H. Dean Aynechi, ¶ 4.) Also, the Court finds that this case presented substantial challenges and difficulties, as detailed in Counsel’s declaration. (Id., ¶ 7.) Finally, the Court acknowledges that this outcome was extraordinary, given the facts of the case. Therefore, Counsel is entitled to more than 2.5% of the settlement.

At the same time, Counsel is not entitled to the 40% amount he requests because he did, in fact, accept this appointment through the LACBA-LRS. In doing so, he agreed to the terms of the Dependency Court Tort Policy. The policy encourages attorneys to take cases on a pro bono basis, but nevertheless makes clear that attorneys will not receive their full contingency fees on such cases. Independent of the policy, the Court still finds based on the fact of this case that 40% of the total settlement would not be fair and appropriate, even considering the issues raised in Counsel’s declaration. Simply, the Court finds that a fee award of $280,000 would be disproportionate with the amount of work and challenges involved in this case.

The Court finds that Counsel should receive $17,270, per the Dependency Court Tort Policy, to which Counsel agreed when he accepted the case. The Court finds that Counsel should receive an additional $100,000 to compensate Counsel for the extraordinary number of hours spent on this case, as well as the extraordinary outcome. Finally, the Court notes that Counsel must pay LACBA-LRS a referral fee of 15% of the total judgment, so the Court adds enough to the attorneys’ fees to cover the referral fee. Therefore, the Court orders that Counsel shall receive $137,964.71.

Counsel shall provide notice and file proof of such with the Court.

DATED: March 10, 2020 ___________________________

Stephen I. Goorvitch

Judge of the Superior Court