This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/18/2019 at 00:53:54 (UTC).

JONATHAN C ROSEN ET AL VS DALE REICHENEDER LAW GROUP ET AL

Case Summary

On 01/11/2018 JONATHAN C ROSEN filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against DALE REICHENEDER LAW GROUP. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are RICHARD FRUIN, WILLIAM D. STEWART and RALPH C. HOFER. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****0062

  • Filing Date:

    01/11/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

RICHARD FRUIN

WILLIAM D. STEWART

RALPH C. HOFER

 

Party Details

Petitioners and Plaintiffs

LAW OFFICE OF JONATHAN C. ROSEN

JCR LAW GROUP

ROSEN JONATHAN C.

JCR LAW GROUP A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

ROSEN JONATHAN C. DBA LAW OFFICE OF JONATHAN C. ROSEN

Appellants and Plaintiffs

JCR LAW GROUP A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

ROSEN JONATHAN C. DBA LAW OFFICE OF JONATHAN C. ROSEN

Defendants and Respondents

REICHNENEDER LAW GROUP

REICHENEDER DALE

MOORHEAD JAMES

DOES 1 TO 100

AGUILAR ARTURO

11 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Petitioner and Plaintiff Attorneys

ZELIG STEVEN ESQ.

WLA LEGAL SERVICES INC.

ZELIG STEVEN

Plaintiff and Appellant Attorney

ZELIG STEVEN

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

SEELEY RONALD J.

SEELEY RONALD JAMES

STEVEN D. DAVIS LAW GROUP APC

RONALD J. SEELEY LAW OFFICE OF

 

Court Documents

REPLY MEMORANDUM RE ANTI-SLAPP MOTION

4/23/2018: REPLY MEMORANDUM RE ANTI-SLAPP MOTION

Minute Order

4/30/2018: Minute Order

Notice

7/16/2018: Notice

Notice

7/20/2018: Notice

Motion to Strike (not initial pleading)

8/20/2018: Motion to Strike (not initial pleading)

Request

8/20/2018: Request

Declaration

8/20/2018: Declaration

Other -

8/20/2018: Other -

Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

8/20/2018: Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

Notice of Motion

8/20/2018: Notice of Motion

Proof of Personal Service

8/23/2018: Proof of Personal Service

Proof of Personal Service

8/23/2018: Proof of Personal Service

Stipulation - No Order

9/12/2018: Stipulation - No Order

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

9/17/2018: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

9/17/2018: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Minute Order

9/20/2018: Minute Order

Order

9/20/2018: Order

Amended Complaint

9/28/2018: Amended Complaint

70 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/01/2019
  • Order (RE PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO SEAL AND/OR FOR ORDER DETERMINING WHETHER THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT SHOULD BE SEALED); Filed by JCR Law Group, a California Corporation (Plaintiff); JCR Law Group, a California Corporation (Plaintiff); Jonathan C. Rosen (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/12/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department A, William D. Stewart, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Seal (APPLICATION FOR ORDER DETERMINING WHETHER THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT SHOULD BE SEALED ; DECLARATION OF STEVEN ZELIG) - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 04/12/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion to Seal APPLICATION FOR ORDER DETERMINING W...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/04/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department A, William D. Stewart, Presiding; Case Management Conference - Held

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  • 04/04/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Case Management Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/18/2019
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) (Response to Second Amended Complaint); Filed by James Moorhead (Defendant)

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  • 03/18/2019
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) (Response to Second Amended Complaint); Filed by Arturo Aguilar (Defendant)

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  • 03/15/2019
  • Response (to Second Amended Complaint); Filed by Arturo Aguilar (Defendant)

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  • 03/15/2019
  • Response (to Second Amended Complaint); Filed by James Moorhead (Defendant)

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  • 03/14/2019
  • Request For Copies; Filed by James Moorhead (Defendant)

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192 More Docket Entries
  • 03/19/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 03/19/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons

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  • 03/19/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

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  • 02/20/2018
  • Notice-Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/20/2018
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/20/2018
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 01/11/2018
  • Complaint

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  • 01/11/2018
  • Complaint; Filed by JONATHAN C. ROSEN (Plaintiff); JCR Law Group, a California Corporation (Plaintiff); JCR LAW GROUP (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/11/2018
  • COMPLAINT FOR COMPENSATORY, AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES; AND, REQUEST FOR TRIAL BY JURY

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  • 01/11/2018
  • SUMMONS

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC690062    Hearing Date: June 4, 2021    Dept: A

Objection to Proposed Order

Calendar:

20

Case No.:

BC690062

Hearing Date:

June 04, 2021

Action Filed:

January 11, 2018

Trial Date:

N/A

MP:

Plaintiffs Jonathan C. Rosen, individually and dba Law Office of Jonathan C. Rosen; JCR Law Group

RP:

Defendants Reicheneder Law Group; Dale Reicheneder (no opposition)

ALLEGATIONS:

In this action, Plaintiffs Jonathan C. Rosen, individually and dba Law Office of Jonathan C. Rosen (“Rosen”), and JCR Law Group (“JCR”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) commenced this action against Defendant Dale Reicheneder (“Reicheneder”), Reichender Law Group (“RLG”, and together, "Reicheneder Defendants"), James Moorhead (“Moorhead”), and Arturo Aguilar (“Aguilar”, and collectively, "Defendants").

Rosen is a law specializing in criminal defense. In 2013, the district attorney charged Aguilar with lewd conduct and sexual assault of a minor. At the time the criminal conduct occurred, Aguilar too was a minor. Aguilar confessed to the charges. Aguilar then hired Rosen to defend him against these charges. Rosen defended Aguilar and procured a plea bargain, which Aguilar accepted. As a result, Aguilar was convicted and sentenced to 1 year in the juvenile facility.

About 2.5 years after the conviction, Aguilar, acting through his attorney Reicheneder of RLG and Aguilar’s godfather, Moorhead, filed a lawsuit against Rosen and JCR for legal malpractice. The lawsuit was entitled Aguilar v. Rosen et al. (LASC Case No. EC064392) (hereinafter, “Underlying Lawsuit”). Plaintiffs allege that before Aguilar filed the Underlying Lawsuit, the Reicheneder and RLG had the duty to objectively and fairly evaluate the merits of the claim they were pursuing on behalf of Aguilar. In February 2017, Plaintiffs allege that Aguilar’s Underlying Lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, constituting a termination in Plaintiffs’ favor.

Plaintiffs filed a Complaint on January 11, 2018, a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on October 22, 2018, and a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on March 11, 2019, alleging a single cause of action sounding in malicious prosecution.

PRESENTATION:

The Court received the Objection to Proposed Judgment filed by Plaintiffs on April 26, 2021. No opposition has been received by the Court.

RELIEF REQUESTED:

Plaintiffs object to the Proposed Order filed by Reicheneder Defendants.

DISCUSSION:

 

Standard of Review – Objection to Proposed Judgment – Any party may, within 15 days after the proposed statement of decision and judgment have been served, serve and file objections to the proposed statement of decision or judgment." (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1590, subd. (d) & (g).)

Merits – The instant objection was filed and served on April 26, 2021, within 15 days of the proposed order service date on April 20, 2021. The proposed order reads in part:

1. Defendants' Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs is GRANTED in part and awarded as follows, consistent with the Court's Tentative Ruling of January 8, 2021:

(i) Attorney Fees are awarded in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiffs, in the amount of $55,250.00 (incurred via Ron Seeley, Esq., in the underlying Trial Court and related activities);

Plaintiffs assert that the Court is deprived of jurisdiction to adopt the proposed order filed by Reicheneder Defendants because, on March 08, 2021, Plaintiffs appealed the Court's January 08, 2021 denial of Plaintiffs' motion to tax costs and the Court's award of attorney's fees to Ronald Seeley.

As some of the Court's ruling on January 08, 2021 is currently being appealed by Plaintiffs, the Court will sustain the objection and will not adopt Reicheneder Defendants' proposed order based upon being deprived of jurisdiction by reason of the appeal of a related matter.

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RULING:

In the event the parties submit on this tentative ruling, or a party requests a signed order or the court in its discretion elects to sign a formal order, the following form will be either electronically signed or signed in hard copy and entered into the court’s records.

ORDER

Plaintiffs Jonathan C. Rosen and JCR Law Group's Objection to Proposed Judgment came on regularly for hearing on June 04, 2021, with appearances/submissions as noted in the minute order for said hearing, and the court, being fully advised in the premises, did then and there rule as follows:

THE OBJECTION TO PROPOSED JUDGMENT IS SUSTAINED; CONIDERATION OF ANY FURTHER OBJECTIONS PENDING RESOLUTION OF APPEAL.

DATE: _______________ _______________________________

JUDGE

Case Number: BC690062    Hearing Date: January 08, 2021    Dept: A

The Superior Court is open under “Here for You | Safer for You” Conditions and Orders

Counsel are urged to use remote appearance technology LACourtConnect

If it is indispensable for counsel to be present in court, face masks (without a valve) are mandated (unless a court orders otherwise) and social distancing rules are in force.

Dept. A Burbank protocol for LACourtConnect Appearances.

Video Appearances: Since these are the functional equivalent of a personal appearance in court, no special protocols are in place at this time.

Audio Only Appearances.

1. Argument is limited to three minutes, unless the court grants a request for additional time.

2. The reading of argument is feckless and nugatory.

3. State your name at the beginning of all statements.

4. Do not speak directly to other counsel without permission of court.

5. Do not interrupt or attempt to speak over another speaker.

6. Do not announce your presence until called by your name or case name.

7. Take a deep breath frequently so that the court may interrupt your presentation, if necessary. (The system does not default to the court unless you are placed on mute by the court or go silent or mute on you own.)

8. Maintain silence in your surroundings – no keyboarding, dogs barking, children crying, etc.

Rosen v Reicheneder

Motion to Tax Costs;Motion for Attorney Fees

Calendar:

19

Case No.:

BC690062

Hearing Date:

January 08, 2021

Action Filed:

January 11, 2018

Trial Date:

Affirmed on Appeal

Tax Costs

MP:

Plaintiffs Jonathan C. Rosen; JCR Law Group

RP:

Defendants Reicheneder Law Group; Dale Reicheneder

Attorney Fees

MP:

Defendants Reicheneder Law Group; Dale Reicheneder

RP:

Plaintiffs Jonathan C. Rosen; JCR Law Group

ALLEGATIONS:

In this action, Plaintiffs Jonathan C. Rosen, individually and dba Law Office of Jonathan C. Rosen (“Rosen”), and JCR Law Group (“JCR”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) commenced this action against Defendant Dale Reicheneder (“Reicheneder”), Reichender Law Group (“RLG”, and together, "Reicheneder Defendants"), James Moorhead (“Moorhead”), and Arturo Aguilar (“Aguilar”, and collectively, "Defendants").

Rosen is a law specializing in criminal defense. In 2013, the district attorney charged Aguilar with lewd conduct and sexual assault of a minor. At the time the criminal conduct occurred, Aguilar too was a minor. Aguilar confessed to the charges. Aguilar then hired Rosen to defend him against these charges. Rosen defended Aguilar and procured a plea bargain, which Aguilar accepted. As a result, Aguilar was convicted and sentenced to 1 year in the juvenile facility.

About 2.5 years after the conviction, Aguilar, acting through his attorney Reicheneder of RLG and Aguilar’s godfather, Moorhead, filed a lawsuit against Rosen and JCR for legal malpractice. The lawsuit was entitled Aguilar v. Rosen et al. (LASC Case No. EC064392) (hereinafter, “Underlying Lawsuit”). Plaintiffs allege that before Aguilar filed the Underlying Lawsuit, the Reicheneder and RLG had the duty to objectively and fairly evaluate the merits of the claim they were pursuing on behalf of Aguilar. In February 2017, Plaintiffs allege that Aguilar’s Underlying Lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, constituting a termination in Plaintiffs’ favor.

Plaintiffs filed a Complaint on January 11, 2018, a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on October 22, 2018, and a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on March 11, 2019, alleging a single cause of action sounding in malicious prosecution.

PRESENTATION:

The Court heard and granted a Special Motion to Strike (Anti-SLAPP) the Complaint on October 12, 2018, which was thereafter appealed. The Second District Court of Appeal, Division 4 affirmed this order on July 02, 2020.

Plaintiffs filed the motion to tax costs on July 30, 2020, Reicheneder Defendants filed an opposition on November 17, 2020, and Rosen Plaintiffs filed a reply on November 25, 2020.

On December 03, 2020, the Court continued the motion to tax costs to December 11, 2020. Self-represented litigant Moorhead was telephonically informed and directed to give notice to Aguilar and Reicheneder. Counsel for Plaintiffs was also telephonically notified and directed to give notice to any other party not named.

On December 11, 2020, the Court continued the motion to tax costs to January 08, 2021. Plaintiff was directed to give notice.

The Court received the motion for attorney fees filed by Reicheneder Defendants on November 10, 2020, an opposition filed by Plaintiffs on December 24, 2020, and a reply filed by Reicheneder Defendants on December 30, 2020.

RELIEF REQUESTED:

Plaintiffs move for (1) an order striking and/or taking costs of Reicheneder Defendants set forth in the July 13, 2020 cost bill in the amount of $161,249.58; (2) an order striking the filing fee of $60; (3) an order striking Item 10 of the Memorandum of Costs (Summary); (4) an order striking Item 10 of the Memorandum of Costs (Worksheet); (5) an order striking Items 12c(3) & (4) of the Memorandum of Costs (Worksheet); (6) an order striking Items 12c(5) & (6); and (7) an order striking Items 12c(13) & (14) of the Memorandum of Costs (Worksheet).

Reicheneder Defendants move for an order granting their request for attorneys' fees in the amount of $63,748.75, further attorneys' fees in the amount of $90,000, and costs in the amount of $7,560.83, for a total of $161,309.58, against Plaintiffs.

DISCUSSION:

 

Standard of ReviewTax Costs – The costs incurred by the parties to a civil action consist of the expenses of litigation, usually excluding attorney fees. (Patricia Bakey – Hoey v. Lockheed (2003) 111 Cal.App.4th 592, 597.) Under the common law rule, parties to litigation must bear their own costs. (Ibid.; see also Davis v. KGO-TV, Inc. (1998) 17 Cal.4th 436, 446) (Although the purpose of much civil litigation is to make the injured party “whole,” the traditional common law rule is that the parties must bear their own costs.). The right to recover any costs is, thus, determined entirely by statute. (Patricia Bakey – Hoey, supra, 111 Cal.App.4th at 597.) CCP § 425.16, the special motion to strike statute, provides "a prevailing defendant on a special motion to strike shall be entitled to recover his or her attorney's fees and costs."

“[T]he verified memorandum of costs is prima facie evidence of their propriety, and the burden is on the party seeking to tax costs to show they were not reasonable or necessary.” (612 South LLC v. Laconic Ltd. Partnership (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 1270, 1285.) Evidence is generally required in order to support an objection, and the mere submission of conclusions or bare allegations typically does not justify taxing costs. (See County of Kern v. Ginn (1983) 146 Cal.App.3d 1107) (bare allegation that depositions were neither necessary nor reasonable insufficient to overcome right to costs). Allegations are sufficient, however, if they depend upon undisputed facts where nothing more needed to be, or could have been, added by additional declarations or affidavits. (Fennessy v. Deleuw-Cather Corp. (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 1192, 1196.)

Merits – Plaintiffs argue (1) that the Court should deny attorney fees altogether, citing Chavez v. City of Los Angeles (2010) 47 Cal.4th 970, 990 and Serrano v. Unruh (1982) 32 Cal.3d 621, 635; (2) that Defendants should not be awarded attorney fees for specious arguments in their special motion to strike; (3) that Defendants are overbilling for the $63,748.75 amount; (4) that Defendants failed to timely file a motion for attorney fees pursuant to CRC Rule 3.1702(b); (5) that Defendants improperly request attorney fees that are not contractual or "fixed" per statute; (6) that Defendants are entitled to reasonable attorney fees relating only to the special motion to strike and cannot recover fees or expenditures for their appeal; (7) that even assuming attorney fees relating to the appeal may be awarded, Defendants are intentionally inflating and exaggerating the fees requested, and are improperly attempting to shift the cost of their July 31, 2019 Respondents' Brief to the instant action; (8) that Defendants are overbilling for the $90,000 amount; (9) that Defendants' two respondent briefs are badly drafted and awkward; (10) that Reicheneder himself argued at the appellate court and is not entitled to reimbursement for his own time, citing Trope v. Katz (1995) 11 Cal.4th 274, Taheri Law Group v. Evans (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 482, and Ellis Law Group v. Nevada (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 244; (11) that Reicheneder "ghost wrote" the special motion to strike and Respondents' Brief; and (12) that the Court should allow Plaintiffs to take 2-hour depositions of Seeley, Crucillo, and Reicheneder.

In opposition, Reicheneder Defendants argue that the instant motion is premature, as they had not yet filed a motion for attorney's fees at the time the instant motion was filed, and contend they have since filed a motion for attorney's fees. Reicheneder Defendants argue they are entitled to mandatory attorney fees and costs pursuant to CCP § 425.16(c)(1) and further cites Tuchscher Dev. Enter., Inc. V San Diego Unified Port District (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 1219, 7 1230-1231, 1248, Bankes v. Lucas (1992) 9 Cal.App.4th 365, 368, and Harbour landing-Dolfann, Ltd. v. Anderson (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 260, 264 in support of the contention that they are additionally entitled fees and costs on appeal in relation to the special motion to strike. Reicheneder Defendants also cite Carpenter v. Jack in the Box Corp. (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 454 for the contention that the CRC Rule 3.1702 time limit for filing a motion for attorney fees does not run until entry of judgment at the conclusion of litigation. Reicheneder Defendants argue that their request for attorney fees was timely, as the Memorandum of Costs was filed on July 13, 2020 and Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs was filed on November 10, 2020, both within 60 days of the Remittitur served on October 07, 2020. Reicheneder Defendants further argue that the attorney fees and costs requested are reasonable.

The issue as to the instant motion concerns Defendants' recovery of attorney's fees in the amount of $63,748.75 for their successful special motion to strike in trial court, $90,000 for their successful defense of the same in appellate court, and $7,560.83 in total costs.

Reicheneder Defendants filed a memorandum of costs on July 13, 2020, which represents prima facie evidence of their propriety; pursuant to 612 South LLC, supra, 184 Cal.App.4th at p. 1285, Plaintiffs bear the burden to show that the costs were not reasonable or necessary. As a preliminary matter, the Court need not consider Plaintiffs' arguments that (1) Defendants should have their costs taxed for making specious arguments in their special motion to strike or (2) it is improper for Reicheneder Defendants to request attorney fees that are not contractual or "fixed" per statute as Plaintiffs cite no legal authority either of these contentions. Absent a good faith basis for the modification or extension of an existing law, litigants are generally prohibited from asserting a position in litigation without authority. (See, e.g., In re Estate of Randall (1924) 194 Cal. 725, 728-29) (“Contentions supported neither by argument nor by citation of authority are deemed to be without foundation, and to have been abandoned.”) (internal quotations omitted); California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.1.)

As to Plaintiffs' CRC Rule 3.1702(b) argument, the rule provides that "[a] notice of motion to claim attorney's fees for services up to and including the rendition of judgment in the trial court-including attorney's fees on an appeal before the rendition of judgment in the trial court-must be served and filed within the time for filing a notice of appeal under rules 8.104 and 8.108 in an unlimited civil case or under rules 8.822 and 8.823 in a limited civil case." The Carpenter appeals court provides: "we hold that the time limits imposed by rules 3.1702 and 8.104 for filing a motion for attorney fees under section 425.16, subdivision (c) do not commence to run until entry of judgment at the conclusion of the litigation. This interpretation of rule 3.1702 is consistent not only with the rule's history and underlying policy, but also with existing law and practice." Plaintiffs do not address or refute this contention, and the Court finds that the instant motion is timely, as judgment has not yet been entered.

Plaintiffs cite G.R. v. Intelligator (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 606 for the contention that Reicheneder Defendants may not recover costs and fees on appeal on a special motion to strike. G.R. does not stand for this contention. Rather, "[u]nder Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, subd. (c), respondents are also entitled to recover their costs and attorney fees on appeal." (Tuchscher Development Enterprises, Inc. v. San Diego Unified Port Dist. (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 1219, 1248)

As to Plaintiffs' arguments on the overbilled $63,748.75 amount, Reicheneder Defendants attach a full accounting of costs for this amount in the form of Exhibit D. Plaintiffs make only general arguments concerning overbilling and do not point to specific instances or evidence of overbilling, and so the Court will not tax this amount.

Finally, Plaintiffs fail to meet their prima facie burden to show that Reicheneder Defendants are improperly attempting to "shift" ineligible fees to the memorandum of costs, that that Reicheneder "ghost wrote" the special motion to strike and Respondents' Brief, or that the $90,000 fixed fee amount is inflated.

Accordingly, the Court will deny the instant motion.

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Standard of Review – Attorney Fees – A ‘reasonable’ attorney’s fee award generally falls “within the sound discretion of the trial judge.” (Church of Scientology v. Wollersheim (1996) 42 Cal. App. 4th 628, 659.) However, in making a determination on the reasonableness of attorney’s fees and costs, a trial court should consider (1) the nature of the litigation, (2) its difficulty, (3) the amount involved, (4) the skill required and the skill employed in handling the litigation, (5) the attention given, (6) the success of the attorney's efforts, (7) his learning and age, (8) his experience in the particular type of work demanded the intricacies and importance of the litigation, and (9) the labor and necessity for skilled legal training and ability in trying the cause, and (10) the time consumed. (Id. at pp. 638-39.)

Merits – Reicheneder Defendants request an award of $161,309.58, representing attorneys' fees in the amount of $63,748.75, further attorneys' fees in the amount of $90,000, and costs in the amount of $7,560.83.

Nature of the Litigation – The nature of the litigation is a malicious prosecution claim by Plaintiff against Defendants. This Court granted a Special Motion to Strike, the Court of Appeals affirmed the order, and the California Supreme Court denied the subsequent Petition for Review.

Difficulty of the Litigation – On review of the records, there is evidence the case represented a moderate level of difficulty, as the case involved a moderate amount of motion practice and an appeal with complex issues. The actions of the parties extended the litigation.

Amount Involved – The total amount sought in the action was $5,000,000, along with punitive damages, interests, costs, and fees.

Skill Required and Skill Employed – Nothing in the documents before the Court indicate that any outstanding skill, training, or experience was utilized by Defendant's counsel in the course of the litigation, and so the Court will find that the skill employed may be characterized as ordinary legal skill.

Attention Given – In the Declaration of Dale Reicheneder, Mr. Reicheneder represents that his counsel billed $153,748.75 in fees and $7,560.83 in costs. (Decl. Reicheneder, ¶¶ 3, 7, 14, Exs. A, D.)

Success of Efforts – There is no dispute that Plaintiff succeeded in the litigation.

Learning and Age – Mr. Reicheneder represents that the primary attorneys who worked on the instant case are as follows:

Ron Seeley (SBN # 78090) has approximately 40 years' experience and is a graduate of UC Hastings School of Law.

Joyce Crucillo (SBN # 185405) has approximately 20 years' experience, including appellate experience, and is a graduate of Loyola Law School.

Experience in the Particular Type of Work and Importance of the Litigation – Ms. Dennis represents that the primary attorneys who worked on the instant case are as follows:

Ron Seeley has an unspecified approximate 40 years' experience.

Joyce Crucillo has an unspecified approximate 20 years' experience, with "necessary appellate experience". (Mot., 16:4.)

As to the importance of this litigation, the Court finds that the instant litigation is of low importance, as this is a moderate-difficulty case regarding established law on a special motion to strike, issues regarding first impression, and no matters of public concern.

Need for Specialized Ability – An increased rate for specialized knowledge is intended to compensate the more specialized attorney for the fewer number of hours worked in achieving the same result in litigation. Neither party argues and the Court does not find that there was “specialized” ability required to litigate the instant action, such as the courts frequently see in litigation such as product liability, molestation, and the like.

Time Consumed – Plaintiffs do not provide an hourly figure for either Mr. Seeley or Ms. Crucillo. Plaintiffs contend that Mr. Seeley billed $64,017.65 at $350 per hour, which the Court calculates to 182.91 hours. Plaintiffs contend that Ms. Crucillo billed a flat fee of $90,000.

The rules for determining a fee motion are well known: in Ketchum v Moses (2001) 11 Cal. 4th 1122 at 1131: . . . a court assessing attorney fees begins with a touchstone or lodestar figure, based on the “careful compilation of the time spent and reasonable hourly compensation of each attorney ... involved in the presentation of the case.” (omitting citations) We expressly approved the use of prevailing hourly rates as a basis for the lodestar, noting that anchoring the calculation of attorney fees to the lodestar adjustment method “ ‘is the only way of approaching the problem that can claim objectivity, a claim which is obviously vital to the prestige of the bar and the courts.’ (omitting citations) In referring to “reasonable ” compensation, we indicated that trial courts must carefully review attorney documentation of hours expended; “padding” in the form of inefficient or duplicative efforts is not subject to compensation. (omitting citations) Under Serrano III, the lodestar is the basic fee for comparable legal services in the community; it may be adjusted by the court based on factors including, as relevant herein, (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, (4) the contingent nature of the fee award. (omitting citations) The purpose of such adjustment is to fix a fee at the fair market value for the particular action. In effect, the court determines, retrospectively, whether the litigation involved a contingent risk or required extraordinary legal skill justifying augmentation of the unadorned lodestar in order to approximate the fair market rate for such services. The “ ‘experienced trial judge is the best judge of the value of professional services rendered in his court, and while his judgment is of course subject to review, it will not be disturbed unless the appellate court is convinced that it is clearly wrong.’ ” (omitting citations).

That being the law, it is the judge who determines what is reasonable and necessary in terms of legal work and effort; it is the judge who determines the reasonable prevailing fee structure. Every attorney will say his or work was reasonable and necessary; every attorney on the other side will contend it is not. Judges do not need this kind of help from counsel.

On review of Exhibit D, the Court does not find such examples of unreasonable or unnecessary work. Mr. Seeley's fee of $64,017.65 for 182.91 hours is examined. There do not appear to be any abusive or unnecessary practices or padding. What is of concern is the total number of hours which exceed what this court has seen in many other similar (CCP 425.16) matters which typically, although not exclusively total about 80 to 100 or perhaps even 125 hours. This suggests either a lack of familiarity with, or a lack of efficiency, in the matter. However, the more typical bill rate on such matters is either in or above the $450.00 - $500.00 per billable hour fee rate range. Here, the fee rate was $325.00, about 2/3 of what is commonly seen. So the question becomes whether the court should focus on the total fee which could be as high as $62,500.00 at a bill rate of $500.00 per hour with 125 hours expended; or, on the other hand, focus on the unusually high hours expended and make an award based on the actual fee rate presented. This court is of the opinion that it should accept the abnormally low bill rate and concentrate instead on the hours expended. It does appear that the background of this matter was rather convoluted and arcane, justifying some increase on the usual hours commonly seen. Also, there does seem to be an unusual amount of time spent in communicating with the referring counsel. The court has also re-examined the original motion which is quite well written, suggesting thorough review and editing. The court finds that 170 hours (about 1/3 increase over the usual high of 125 hours.) should have been sufficient for the work necessary and accomplished with reasonable efficiency. At the bill rate of $325.00 per hour, the court will award $55,250.00 for this portion of the fee claim.

As to the appellate fee, this court has not seen flat rate billing for appeals. The court is unaware of any authority approving such a practice in a fee-shifting motion. The court is not shocked at the gross amount as it recently reviewed a matter on appeal on a fee-shifting motion (coincidentally also involving a contested petition to the Supreme Court) in which the appellate billings approached nearly twice as much as here. However, in order to comply with the Lodestar approach, the court will consider continuing the matter for briefing on whether such billing practice has been approved in a fee-shifting motion, or whether moving party can obtain the bill rate and hours expended for the appellate specialist.

Other Arguments – Plaintiffs make numerous other arguments identical to the arguments presented and already analyzed by the Court in the motion to tax costs, supra.

Accordingly, the Court will grant or continue the instant motion.

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RULING: below,

In the event the parties submit on this tentative ruling, or a party requests a signed order or the court in its discretion elects to sign a formal order, the following form will be either electronically signed or signed in hard copy and entered into the court’s records.

ORDER

Plaintiffs Jonathan C. Rosen and JCR Law Group's Motion to Tax Costs and Defendants Reicheneder Law Group and Dale Reicheneder's Motion for Attorney's Fees came on regularly for hearing on January 08, 2021, with appearances/submissions as noted in the minute order for said hearing, and the court, being fully advised in the premises, did then and there rule as follows:

THE MOTION TO TAX COSTS IS DENIED.

THE MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES IS GRANTED OR CONTINUED.

DATE: _______________ _______________________________

JUDGE

Case Number: BC690062    Hearing Date: December 11, 2020    Dept: A

The court cannot understand the motions of defendants Aguilar and Moorhead.

The motion to tax is continued to January 8, 2021 at the same time as the motion for fees.

Case Number: BC690062    Hearing Date: November 25, 2020    Dept: A

Motion to be relieved:

DENY: cannot be relieved as to some claims or opposing parties, but not others. 

Case cannot be severed as would be necessitated.

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