Search

Attributes

This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/31/2019 at 05:22:15 (UTC).

JESSE ROMERO ET AL VS FCA US LLC

Case Summary

On 06/27/2017 JESSE ROMERO filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against FCA US LLC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is BARBARA M. SCHEPER. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****6599

  • Filing Date:

    06/27/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

BARBARA M. SCHEPER

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

ROMER LAURA

ROMERO JESSE

Defendants and Respondents

FCA US LLC

DOES 1 TO 20

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorney

BARRY DAVID N. ESQ.

Defendant and Respondent Attorney

PROUDFOOT MATTHEW M. ESQ.

 

Court Documents

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

4/10/2018: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

PLAINTIFFS' NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO CONIPEL DEFENDANT FCA US LLC'S FURTHER RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOR ADMISSION NOS. 7, 8,17,18 AND 25; REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS OF S2,435.OO; MEMORANDUM OF

8/13/2018: PLAINTIFFS' NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO CONIPEL DEFENDANT FCA US LLC'S FURTHER RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOR ADMISSION NOS. 7, 8,17,18 AND 25; REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS OF S2,435.OO; MEMORANDUM OF

Minute Order

12/17/2018: Minute Order

Request for Judicial Notice

1/4/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Association of Attorney

2/22/2019: Association of Attorney

Request for Judicial Notice

3/14/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

3/14/2019: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

3/19/2019: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Reply

3/20/2019: Reply

Reply

3/25/2019: Reply

Minute Order

1/10/2018: Minute Order

PLAINTIFF'S NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES

6/18/2018: PLAINTIFF'S NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES

Unknown

7/12/2018: Unknown

Minute Order

8/6/2018: Minute Order

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

6/27/2017: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

7/11/2017: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

ANSWER TO COMPLAINT

8/11/2017: ANSWER TO COMPLAINT

Minute Order

9/12/2017: Minute Order

60 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/10/2019
  • at 08:31 AM in Department 30, Barbara M. Scheper, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/10/2019
  • Notice of Ruling; Filed by Jesse Romero (Plaintiff); Laura Romer (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/10/2019
  • Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/10/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/03/2019
  • at 08:31 AM in Department 30, Barbara M. Scheper, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/03/2019
  • Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/03/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/03/2019
  • Reply (IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT FCA US LLC?S FURTHER RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS NOS. 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 AND 39); Filed by Jesse Romero (Plaintiff); Laura Romer (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/27/2019
  • at 08:31 AM in Department 30, Barbara M. Scheper, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses (Special interrogatories only) - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/27/2019
  • Memorandum of Points & Authorities; Filed by FCA US LLC (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
122 More Docket Entries
  • 08/11/2017
  • Answer; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/11/2017
  • Notice of Related Case; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/11/2017
  • ANSWER TO COMPLAINT

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/11/2017
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/11/2017
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/10/2017
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/10/2017
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/27/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Jesse Romero (Plaintiff); Laura Romer (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/27/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/27/2017
  • SUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC666599    Hearing Date: July 20, 2020    Dept: 30

Dept. 30

Calendar No.

Romero, et. al. vs. FCA US LLC, et. al., Case No. BC666599

Tentative Ruling re: Plaintiffs’ Motion for Attorney’s Fees

Plaintiffs move for an award of attorney fees, costs and expenses, pursuant to Civil Code § 1794(d) of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, in the amount of $42,542.50 for the Barry Law Firm, and $9,197.50 for Michael H. Rosenstein. Plaintiff also requests a “lodestar” multiplier of 1.5, in the amount of $25,870.00, for a total of $83,247.26. Plaintiff also moves this Court for reimbursement of costs and expenses in the amount of $5,637.26. The total amount requested by this motion is $83,247.26. The motion is granted in part.

“[A]s a general rule, attorney fees are not recoverable as costs unless they are authorized by statute or agreement.” (People ex rel. Dept. of Corporations v. Speedee Oil Change Systems, Inc. (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 424, 429.)

In a lemon law action, costs and expenses, including attorney fees, may be recovered by a prevailing buyer under the Song-Beverly Act. (See Civ. Code, § 1794, subd. (d).) Section 1794 provides:

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, including attorney’s fees based on actual time expended, 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 [emphasis added].) Thus, the statute includes a “reasonable attorney’s fees” standard.

The attorney bears the burden of proof as to “reasonableness” of any fee claim. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1033.5(c)(5).) 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.) “Testimony of an attorney as to the number of hours worked on a particular case is sufficient evidence to support an award of attorney fees, even in the absence of detailed time records.” (Ibid.)

A plaintiff’s verified billing invoices are prima facie evidence that the costs, expenses, and services listed were necessarily incurred. (See Hadley v. Krepel (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 677, 682.) “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.” (Lunada Biomedical v. Nunez (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 459, 488, quoting Premier Med. Mgmt. Sys., Inc. v. California Ins. Guarantee Assn. (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 550, 564.)

In determining whether the requested attorney’s fees are “reasonable,” the Court’s

first step involves the lodestar figure—a calculation based on the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the lawyer’s hourly rate. The lodestar figure may then be adjusted, based on consideration of facts specific to the case, in order to fix the fee at the fair market value for the legal services provided.

(Gorman v. Tassajara Development Corp. (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 770, 774 [internal citations omitted].) In determining whether to adjust the lodestar figure, the Court may consider the nature and difficulty of the litigation, the amount of money involved, the skill required and employed to handle the case, the attention given, the success or failure, and other circumstances in the case. (EnPalm LLC v. Teitler (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 770, 774; PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095.)

“‘The reasonable market value of the attorney's services is the measure of a reasonable hourly rate. [Citations.] This standard applies regardless of whether the attorneys claiming fees charge nothing for their services, charge at below-market or discounted rates, represent the client on a straight contingent fee basis, or are in-house counsel. [Citations.]’”

(Center For Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 603, 619.)

Defendant does not dispute that Plaintiffs are the prevailing party, or that Plaintiffs are entitled to fees under Civil Code section 1794. Defendant expressly agreed to pay all of Plaintiffs incurred attorney fees as a condition of the settlement. (Barry Decl., Exh. 4 ¶ 3.) Defendant does object to the hourly rates charged by Plaintiffs’ counsel as well as the number of hours worked.

Plaintiffs identify the following rates for attorneys who worked on this case:

· David N. Barry, $525.00 per hour. (Barry Decl., ¶ 16.)

· Guy Mizrahi, $450-475 per hour. (Mizrahi Decl., ¶ 7.)

· Richard Uss, $375 per hour. (Uss Decl., ¶ 6.)

· Sarah Jane Norris, $300 per hour. (Norris Decl., ¶ 6.)

· Elizabeth Quinn, $450 per hour. (Quinn Decl., ¶ 11.)

· Michael H. Rosenstein, $600 per hour. (Rosenstein Decl., ¶ 3.)

· Brian T. Shippen-Murray, $400 per hour. (Rosenstein Decl., ¶ 4.)

For each of these attorneys, the attorneys testify to the reasonableness of their rates and to their legal experiences. The Court finds these rates reasonable in the community.

Defendant argues that charging for seven different attorneys is unreasonable and

leads to duplication. California courts have recognized that multiple counsel is permissible when the demands of the case warrant more than one attorney. In such cases, some duplication of work is both expected and compensable. (Margolin v. Regional Planning Comm’n (1982) 134 Cal.App.3d 999, 1006-07.) Moreover, Michael Rosenstein states that he did not charge for any work he did in this matter. (Rosenstein Decl., ¶ 3.)

Defendant specifically identify some of the billing entries that they object to. Plaintiffs are seeking to recover $2,093 to prepare a motion to compel “even further responses” to special interrogatories (Barry Decl., Exh. 5 at pp. 20-21, 01/04/2019.) The Court agrees that this is unreasonable because this motion was never heard. (Proudfoot Decl., ¶ 6.) Accordingly, the lodestar amount shall be reduced by $2,093.

Defendant challenges Plaintiffs billing $12,500 for ex parte applications. (Barry Decl., Exh. 5.) It appears that Plaintiffs filed four ex parte applications to shorten time for hearing several discovery motions or to specially set a discovery motion or informal discovery conference. (Proudfoot Decl., ¶ 7.) Mr. Barry drafted some of the applications at $475/hr. and Mr. Uss drafted others at $375/hr. Using a blended rate of $425/hr., Plaintiffs appear to be claiming an average of over 7 hours for each application. This is excessive. The Court will reduce these claimed fees by $4,000.

Defendant also argues that it offered to provide restitution to compensate plaintiff for amounts paid for the 2013 Jeep Wrangler. This offer was rejected without a counter demand. (Proudfoot Decl., ¶ 5.) Defendant argues that the entirety of the litigation is therefore a result of Mr. Barry refusing to engage in settlement discussions at the outset of the case. However, Plaintiffs argue that Defendant’s settlement offer was unacceptable. (Reply at p. 2:4-8, Barry Reply Decl., ¶ 3, Exh. 1.) Plaintiffs were well within their rights to accept or reject Defendant’s offer.

Other than as discussed above, Defendant fails to identify any specific entries as reflecting fees that were unreasonable or unnecessarily incurred. (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.”).)

However, the Court also finds that the number of hours charged for working on this motion are excessive. In total, Plaintiff seeks 11.1 hours for this motion at a rate of $525 per hour. (Barry Decl., Exh. 5 at pp. 27-28.) Three of these hours are for traveling to, attending, and traveling from the hearing. Even if Plaintiffs’ counsel does attend the hearing in person, this seems excessive and therefore will be reduced by $1,575.

Therefore, the amount of total attorney fees is reduced by $7,668 for a reduced lodestar of $34,874.50 for the Barry Law firm.

Defendant does not address the billing entries or the rates for the Law Offices of Michael H. Rosenstein. Thus, $9,197.50 will be awarded for those fees.

Plaintiffs also request a lodestar multiplier of 1.5x.

While the lodestar reflects the basic fee for comparable legal services in the community, it may be adjusted based on various factors, including “(1) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill displayed in presenting them; (2) the extent to which the nature of the litigation precluded other employment by the attorneys; (3) the contingent nature of the fee award” and (4) the success achieved. (Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 49 (Serrano).)

Nonetheless, the court must not consider extraordinary skill and the other Serrano factors to the extent these are already included with the lodestar. (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1138-1139 (Ketchum).) “[A] trial court should award a multiplier for exceptional representation only when the quality of representation far exceeds the quality of representation that would have been provided by an attorney of comparable skill and experience billing at the hourly rate used in the lodestar calculation. Otherwise, the fee award will result in unfair double counting and be unreasonable.” (Id. at p. 1139.)

Here, Plaintiffs argue that a 1.5x lodestar multiplier is appropriate primarily because (1) Plaintiffs’ counsel advanced all litigation costs and expenses without reimbursement and would have suffered a substantial loss had Plaintiffs not prevailed; (2) Plaintiffs’ counsel suffered a substantial delay in payment; (3) Plaintiffs’ counsel took this case on contingency; and (4) Plaintiffs’ counsel achieved and excellent result for his clients. (Memorandum, at pp. 10:22–11:1.)

None of these reasons support the application of a multiplier. This case was not novel and did not require expertise beyond a typical Song-Beverly case. Counsel’s skill in handling this action is reflected in his hourly rate and therefore does not support the award of a multiplier. (Ketchum, supra, 24 Cal.4th at p. 1139.) In Robertson v. Fleetwood Travel Trailers of California, Inc. (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 785, 822, the Courts of Appeal held that the trial court may not consider the same factors in determining the lodestar amount when considering whether to award a multiplier. (Ibid.) Finally, there is no evidence that counsel was precluded from seeking other work.

Accordingly, the Court declines to apply a multiplier.

Finally, Plaintiffs request $5,637.26 in costs. The Beverly-Song Act allows a successful plaintiff to recover both “costs” and “expenses.” (See Civ. Code, § 1794, subd. (d).) Defendant has not filed a motion to tax costs and do not oppose the costs in opposition to this motion.

related-case-search

Dig Deeper

Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases


Latest cases where FCA US LLC is a litigant

Latest cases represented by Lawyer BARRY DAVID N.