Search

Attributes

This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/14/2019 at 02:46:38 (UTC).

ENCARNACION HERNANDEZ VS PRINCESS WINDOWS LLC ET AL

Case Summary

On 09/06/2017 ENCARNACION HERNANDEZ filed a Labor - Other Labor lawsuit against PRINCESS WINDOWS LLC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are HOLLY E. KENDIG and ELAINE LU. The case status is Not Classified By Court.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****4792

  • Filing Date:

    09/06/2017

  • Case Status:

    Not Classified By Court

  • Case Type:

    Labor - Other Labor

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

HOLLY E. KENDIG

ELAINE LU

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

ENCARNACION HERNANDEZ

HERNANDEZ ENCARNACION

HERNANDEZ ENCARNACTION

Defendants and Respondents

BARRAGAN ROSALBA

PRINCESS WINDOWS LLC

DOES 1 TO 20

GUERRERO RUMUELDO

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

ELIHU KAVEH S. ESQ.

ELIHU KAVEH SAM ESQ.

NICHOLS ROBBIE R

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

KARLIN & KARLIN LAW OFFICES OF

KARLIN MARC ALAN

 

Court Documents

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NON-APPEARANCE CASE REVIEW RE: OBJECTIONS TO [TENTATIVE] STA...)

9/9/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NON-APPEARANCE CASE REVIEW RE: OBJECTIONS TO [TENTATIVE] STA...)

Request - REQUEST DEFENDANTS' REQUEST FOR AN EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE THEIR RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A DIRECTED VERDICT; OR, IN THE ALTERATIVE, FOR AN ORDER THAT DEFENDANTS' RESPONSIVE PAPE

6/7/2019: Request - REQUEST DEFENDANTS' REQUEST FOR AN EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE THEIR RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A DIRECTED VERDICT; OR, IN THE ALTERATIVE, FOR AN ORDER THAT DEFENDANTS' RESPONSIVE PAPE

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS IMPROPERLY FILED REQUEST FOR AN EXTENSION TIME TO FILE THEIR RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION FOR A DIRECTED VERDICT; OR, IN THE ALTNERATIVE

6/11/2019: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS IMPROPERLY FILED REQUEST FOR AN EXTENSION TIME TO FILE THEIR RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION FOR A DIRECTED VERDICT; OR, IN THE ALTNERATIVE

Motion re: - MOTION RE: DIRECTED VERDICT

5/20/2019: Motion re: - MOTION RE: DIRECTED VERDICT

Motion re: - MOTION RE: FOR DIRECTED VERDICT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF SAMUEL J. MOORHEAD

5/20/2019: Motion re: - MOTION RE: FOR DIRECTED VERDICT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF SAMUEL J. MOORHEAD

Witness List

4/25/2019: Witness List

Trial Brief

4/16/2019: Trial Brief

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE)

3/18/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE)

Proof of Service by Mail

3/14/2019: Proof of Service by Mail

Witness List - WITNESS LIST PLAINTIFFS [PROPOSED] WITNESS

3/14/2019: Witness List - WITNESS LIST PLAINTIFFS [PROPOSED] WITNESS

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

1/24/2019: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Notice - Notice of Case Reassignment and of Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

12/27/2018: Notice - Notice of Case Reassignment and of Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Minute Order - Minute Order (COURT ORDER RE: MSC)

12/17/2018: Minute Order - Minute Order (COURT ORDER RE: MSC)

CIVIL DEPOSIT

1/16/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT

CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT -

1/18/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT -

Minute Order -

3/2/2018: Minute Order -

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

9/25/2017: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

SUMMONS -

9/6/2017: SUMMONS -

51 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 10/07/2019
  • DocketJudgment (IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF ENCARNACION HERNANDEZ); Filed by Encarnacion Hernandez (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/07/2019
  • DocketNotice of Entry of Judgment / Dismissal / Other Order; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/25/2019
  • Docketat 3:04 PM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Court Order

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/25/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Court Order)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/25/2019
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((Court Order) of 09/25/2019); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/09/2019
  • Docketat 11:00 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Non-Appearance Case Review (Re Objections to [TENTATIVE] Statement of Decision\Judgment) - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/09/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Non-Appearance Case Review Re: Objections to [TENTATIVE] Sta...)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/21/2019
  • Docketat 09:34 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Ruling on Submitted Matter

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/21/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Ruling on Submitted Matter)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/21/2019
  • DocketStatement of Decision ([TENTATIVE]); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
74 More Docket Entries
  • 09/25/2017
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/25/2017
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/25/2017
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Encarnacion Hernandez (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/25/2017
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/25/2017
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Encarnacion Hernandez (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/14/2017
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE & OSC RE PROOF OF SERVICE

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/14/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/06/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/06/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1. FAILURE TO PAY WAGES (CAL. LABOR CODE 2O1, 1182.12, 1194, 194.21;ETC

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/06/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Encarnacion Hernandez (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC674792    Hearing Date: July 07, 2020    Dept: 26

IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THE COURT STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL COUNSEL AND ALL PARTIES TO APPEAR REMOTELY FOR NON-TRIAL AND NON-EVIDENTIARY MATTERS, INCLUDING THIS MOTION.

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

encarnacion hernandez,

Plaintiff,

v.

princess windows llc; ROSALBA BARRAGAN; ROMUALDO GUERRERO; and DOES 1 to 20.

Defendants.

Case No.: BC674792

Hearing Date: July 7, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

Plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees

Background

On August 20, 2019, the court entered judgment in favor of plaintiff Encarnacion Hernandez (“Plaintiff”) on the causes of action for (1) failure to pay wages due, (2) failure to pay minimum wages, (3) failure to pay overtime wages, (4) failure to provide rest breaks, (5) failure to provide itemized wage statements, (6) waiting time penalties, (7) Unlawful Business Practices, and (8) Failure to permit inspection of personnel and payroll records. (See Statement of Decision, 8/21/19; see also Judgment 10/7/19.)

On December 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant motion for attorney’s fees and costs. On December 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed a notice of errata as to the memorandum specifying incorrect costs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hearing for this motion was continued from May 20, 2020 to July 7, 2020. (Minute Order 4/30/20.) The Court served notice of the continuance on the moving party (Plaintiff) and ordered the moving party to serve notice on all other parties. The moving party has failed to file proof of service of the Court’s April 30, 2020 order on any other party. However, it appears that Defendants received notice because on June 22, 2020, defendants Princess Windows, LLC, Rosalba Barragan, and Rumueldo Guerrero (collectively “Defendants”) filed their opposition. On June 30, 2020, Plaintiff filed a reply.

Untimely Reply

“All papers opposing a motion so noticed shall be filed with the court and a copy served on each party at least nine court days, and all reply papers at least five court days before the hearing.” (CCP § 1005(b).) The court may refuse to consider a late-filed paper. (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1300(d).)

Here, the reply was filed on June 30, 2020 – only four court days before the hearing date. Accordingly, the reply is untimely, and the court will not consider it.

Legal Standard

“In any action brought for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions, the court shall award reasonable attorney's fees and costs to the prevailing party if any party to the action requests attorney's fees and costs upon the initiation of the action.” (Lab. Code, § 218.5(a).) As to minimum wage and overtime claims, “any employee receiving less than the legal minimum wage or the legal overtime compensation applicable to the employee is entitled to recover in a civil action the unpaid balance of the full amount of this minimum wage or overtime compensation, including interest thereon, reasonable attorney's fees, and costs of suit.” (Lab. Code, § 1194(a).)

In determining what fees are reasonable, California courts apply the “lodestar” approach. (See, e.g., Holguin v. DISH Network LLC (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 1310, 1332.) This inquiry “begins with the ‘lodestar,’ i.e., the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate.” (See PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095.) From there, the “[t]he 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.” (Ibid.) Relevant factors include: “(1) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, (2) the skill displayed in presenting them, (3) the extent to which the nature of the litigation precluded other employment by the attorneys, [and] (4) the contingent nature of the fee award.” (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1132.)

Discussion

Right to Recover

Plaintiff is the prevailing party as to claims for unpaid wages and failure to pay overtime and minimum wage. (See Statement of Decision, 8/21/19; see also Judgment 10/7/19.) Defendants do not dispute that Plaintiff is the prevailing party. Accordingly, the Court may award attorney’s fees and costs.

Reasonableness of Attorney’s Fees

Plaintiff seeks attorney’s fees incurred in the amount of $86,385.00 and an increase by a lodestar multiplier. In opposition, Defendants contend that the amount requested is per se unreasonable as this was a garden-variety wage and hour matter. Defendants further contend that “the Court should reduce any award on the ground that the amount of time Plaintiff's attorneys claim they spent, and their hourly rates, are unreasonable. (Opposition p.5:4-5.)

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 party bears the burden of proof as to “reasonableness” of any fee claim. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1033.5, subd. (c)(5).) The party seeking fees has the burden of documenting the appropriate hours expended and hourly rates. (City of Colton v. Singletary (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 751, 784.) 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.)

An attorney's testimony as to the number of hours worked is sufficient evidence to support an award of attorney’s fees, even in the absence of detailed time records or billing statements, and there is no requirement that such records or statements be offered in evidence. (Steiny & Co., Inc. v. California Electric Supply Co. (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 285, 293.) Ascertaining the fee amount is left to the trial court’s sound discretion. (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1132.) Moreover, “[t]here is ‘no mathematical rule requiring proportionality between compensatory damages and attorney's fees awards’, [Citation], and courts have awarded attorney's fees where plaintiffs recovered only nominal or minimal damages.” (Harman v. City and County of San Francisco (2007) 158 Cal.App.4th 407, 421.)

Despite Defendants’ contention, there is no rule requiring proportionality of the requested attorney’s fees to the judgment of $58,861.00. Accordingly, the court turns to the reasonableness of the requested fees.

Attorney Samuel J. Moorhead

The hourly rate for Counsel for Plaintiff, Samuel J. Moorhead, was $500.00. Moorhead spent a total of 22.5 hours working on this case. (Moorhead Decl. ¶¶ 12, 17, Ex. 1.) These hours were spent conducting client meetings, drafting pleadings, and drafting motions and statements for trial. (Id. Ex. 1.)

Moorhead received his J.D. in 2016 from Fordham University Law School with highest Honors and was a member of the Order of the Coif. (Id. ¶ 16.) He became a member of the California State Bar in 2016 and is admitted to practice in all state courts in California, the United States District Courts of California for the Central, Northern, and Eastern Districts. (Ibid.) He has represented clients in a variety of employment matters for more than three years. (Ibid.) This rate is similar to other hourly rates charged by attorneys with similar experience in the area. (Id. ¶ 17.)The court finds that Moorhead’s rate is within the range of prevailing rates for attorneys in the community and is reasonable.

Attorney Kaveh S. Elihu

Attorney Kaveh S. Elihu served as supervising attorney and partner on this case since its inception. (Elihu Decl. ¶ 3.) The hourly rate for Elihu was $700.00. Elihu spent a total of 16.3 hours working on this case. (Id. ¶ 14; Moorhead Decl., Ex. 1.) He has been an attorney in California since 2009, worked as a planning commissioner for the City of Lancaster on 2010, has litigated numerous employment cases, and Elihu has been awarded the same hourly rate of $700 in the past. (Elihu Decl. ¶¶ 6-12.) Elihu’s hours were spent drafting demand letter, finalizing the complaint, discussing case strategy, emailing opposing counsel. (Moorhead Decl., Ex. 1.) The Court finds that Elihu’s rate is within the range of prevailing rates for attorneys in the community and is reasonable.

Attorney Daniel J. Friedman

Attorney Daniel J. Friedman is an attorney at Plaintiff’s counsel firm. (Friedman Decl. ¶ 1.) The hourly rate for Daniel J. Friedman was $500.00. Friedman spent a total of 16.3 hours working on this case. (Moorhead Decl., Ex. 1.) He has been an attorney in California since 2013, , and has been awarded this rate before. (Friedman Decl. ¶¶ 3-4.) These hours were spent drafting trial briefs, discussing case strategy. (Moorhead Decl., Ex. 1.) The Court finds that these rates are within the range of prevailing rates for attorneys in the community and reasonable.

Other Attorneys

Plaintiffs fail to provide a declaration or present evidence as to the reasonableness of the fees requested for work performed by attorneys Areen Babajanian, Karina Godoy and Raef Cogan. Though the court understands that it may be difficult to obtain declarations from these attorneys who have left their employment with Plaintiff’s Counsel’s firm, Plaintiff has failed to provide a description of their background, expertise, or qualifications. Nonetheless, the court finds that the requested hourly rate of $350 is reasonable as an hourly rate for counsel working on these types of cases, and the court grants the requested $350 hourly rate as to Karina Godoy (who performed 4.9 hours of work) and Raef Cogan (who performed 0.5 hours of work). As to Areen Babajanian, the court will reduce the hourly rate from $500 to $350 as Plaintiffs have failed to justify the higher rate requested. As Babajanian worked 75.2 hours on the case, the fees awarded for Babajanian’s hours are reduced by $11,280 from $37,600 to $26,320.

Paralegals

Plaintiffs also provides the declarations of paralegal case managers Rene Gonzalez and Daniel Lopez with hourly rates of $125 and $225 respectively. These rates appear reasonable .

Accordingly, utilizing a lodestar approach, and in view of the totality of the circumstances, the Court finds that the total reasonable amount of attorney’s fees incurred is $75,105.00.

Lodestar Enhancement

Our Supreme Court has provided clear guidance for trial courts as to whether to apply a multiplier:

Of course, the trial court is not required to include a fee enhancement to the basic lodestar figure for contingent risk, exceptional skill, or other factors, although it retains discretion to do so in the appropriate case; moreover, the party seeking a fee enhancement bears the burden of proof. In each case, the trial court should consider whether, and to what extent, the attorney and client have been able to mitigate the risk of nonpayment, e.g., because the client has agreed to pay some portion of the lodestar amount regardless of outcome. It should also consider the degree to which the relevant market compensates for contingency risk, extraordinary skill, or other factors under Serrano III. We emphasize that when determining the appropriate enhancement, a trial court should not consider these factors to the extent they are already encompassed within the lodestar. The factor of extraordinary skill, in particular, appears susceptible to improper double counting; for the most part, the difficulty of a legal question and the quality of representation are already encompassed in the lodestar. A more difficult legal question typically requires more attorney hours, and a more skillful and experienced attorney will command a higher hourly rate.

(Ketchum, supra, 24 Cal.4th at pp.1138–1139.)

Plaintiff requests a lodestar enhancement multiplier of 1.5 given the contingent risk, preclusion of other work, difficulty of questions involved, and the skill displayed in presenting the issues. Defendant opposes arguing that the enhancement is not warranted, the amount has been included already in the attorney’s fees, and the case was not particularly complex.

Though Plaintiff’s attorneys have demonstrated a skillful display in presenting the issues, the court agrees with Defendants that the case required less than an hour for trial and did not involve complicated issues. Moreover, Plaintiff’s attorneys’ skill has already been addressed in the calculations of the hours worked and hourly rate above. The Court finds that an enhancement multiplier is not appropriate for this case.

Costs

Defendants contend that the costs are untimely because they were not requested until June 17, 2020. However, the requests for cost was included with Plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs filed on December 3, 2019 and corrected by notice of errata on December 4, 2019.

Accordingly, Plaintiff’s request for costs of $4,940.26 is GRANTED as the costs are allowable under Code of Civil Procedure section 1033.5.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees is GRANTED in the total amount of $75,105.00. Costs are granted in the amount of $4,940.26.

Plaintiff is ordered to provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such.

DATED: July 7, 2020 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court