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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/30/2019 at 06:40:51 (UTC).

JONATHAN ROSEN VS CENTURY LAW GROUP LLP ET AL

Case Summary

On 02/16/2017 JONATHAN ROSEN filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against CENTURY LAW GROUP LLP. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are MONICA BACHNER and RUTH ANN KWAN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****0926

  • Filing Date:

    02/16/2017

  • 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 Judges

MONICA BACHNER

RUTH ANN KWAN

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Cross Defendant

ROSEN JONATHAN

Defendants and Respondents

CENTURY LAW GROUP

LEAR EDWARD

CENTURY LAW GROUP LLC

DOES 1 - 100

CENTURY LAW GROUP LLP

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff

CENTURY LAW GROUP LLP

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

MCMAHON BRIAN D. ESQ.

Defendant Attorney

GONZALES RIZZA DIAZ ESQ.

 

Court Documents

PLAINTIFFS/CROSS-DEFENDANTS' SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO FORM INTERROGATORIES - SET, ONE

2/7/2018: PLAINTIFFS/CROSS-DEFENDANTS' SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO FORM INTERROGATORIES - SET, ONE

Unknown

3/13/2018: Unknown

NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES

6/28/2018: NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES

Unknown

7/6/2018: Unknown

DEFENDANT'S NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES

7/6/2018: DEFENDANT'S NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES

Minute Order

7/20/2018: Minute Order

Other -

11/9/2018: Other -

Response

11/9/2018: Response

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

11/9/2018: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Reply

11/19/2018: Reply

Minute Order

1/2/2019: Minute Order

Ex Parte Application

3/19/2019: Ex Parte Application

Minute Order

4/17/2017: Minute Order

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

6/16/2017: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

Unknown

6/26/2017: Unknown

NOTICE OF ERRATA RE FILING OF FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

10/2/2017: NOTICE OF ERRATA RE FILING OF FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

NOTICE OF DEMURRER AND DEMURRER BY DEFENDANTS CENTURY LAW GROUP, LLP, CENTURY LAW GROUP, AND EDWARD 0. LEAR TO PLAINTIFF JONATHAN ROSEN'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

10/25/2017: NOTICE OF DEMURRER AND DEMURRER BY DEFENDANTS CENTURY LAW GROUP, LLP, CENTURY LAW GROUP, AND EDWARD 0. LEAR TO PLAINTIFF JONATHAN ROSEN'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

DEFENDANTS' REPLY IN SUPPORT OF THEIR MOTION TO STRIKE

11/30/2017: DEFENDANTS' REPLY IN SUPPORT OF THEIR MOTION TO STRIKE

74 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/08/2019
  • at 10:00 AM in Department 71, Monica Bachner, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 03/29/2019
  • at 09:00 AM in Department 71, Monica Bachner, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 03/26/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 71, Monica Bachner, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application ( Consolidated With Motion to Continue Trial) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 03/26/2019
  • Minute Order ( (EX PARTE APPLICATION DEFENDANTS, CENTURY LAW GROUP, CENTURY L...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/19/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 72, Ruth Ann Kwan, Presiding; Ex-Parte Proceedings

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  • 03/19/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 71, Monica Bachner, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application ( Consolidated With Motion to Continue Trial) - Held - Continued

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  • 03/19/2019
  • Ex Parte Application (Defendants' Ex Parte Application Consolidated With Motion to Continue Trial); Filed by Century Law Group, LLP (Defendant)

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  • 03/19/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Defendant's Ex-Parte Application consolidated with motion to ...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/15/2019
  • at 10:00 AM in Department 71, Monica Bachner, Presiding; Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC) - Held

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  • 02/15/2019
  • Minute Order ( (MANDATORY SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE (MSC))); Filed by Clerk

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175 More Docket Entries
  • 04/17/2017
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 71; (Order to Show Cause; OSC Discharged) -

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  • 04/17/2017
  • Minute Order

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  • 04/17/2017
  • Minute order entered: 2017-04-17 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/24/2017
  • OSC-Failure to File Proof of Serv; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/24/2017
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/24/2017
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 02/24/2017
  • ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING

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  • 02/16/2017
  • SUMMONS

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  • 02/16/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Jonathan Rosen (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/16/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR COMPENSATORY AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND DEMAND FOR TRIAL BY JURY

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC650926    Hearing Date: October 19, 2020    Dept: 71

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

DEPARTMENT 71

TENTATIVE RULING

JONATHAN ROSEN,

vs.

CENTURY LAW GROUP, LLP, et al.

Case No.: BC650926

Hearing Date: October 19, 2020

Plaintiff Jonathan Rosen’s motion to tax costs of Defendants Century Law Group and Edward O. Lear’s motion is granted in the reduced amount of $24,174.84. Defendants are entitled to $5,367.29 in costs.

Defendants’ motion for attorneys’ fees is denied.

Plaintiff Jonathan Rosen (“Plaintiff”) moves for an order taxing the costs claimed by Defendants Century Law Group, LLP (“Century Law”) and Edward O. Lear (“Lear”) (collectively, “Defendants”) in the March 25, 2020 Memorandum of Costs. (Notice of Motion to Tax Costs, pgs. 0-1; C.C.P. §§1033.5, 1034.)

Defendants also move for an order awarding $216,610.00 in prevailing attorneys’ fees against Plaintiff. (Notice of Motion for Attorney’s Fees, pg. 1-2; Civil Code §1717, 2023.030, 2025.450, 2025.480.)

By way of background, Plaintiff filed his operative pleading, a second amended complaint, for: (1) professional negligence, (2) breach of contract, and (3) breach of fiduciary duty. Defendants presented an affirmative defense of the statute of limitations. Trial was held on September 25, 2019 through October 3, 2019. On March 10, 2020, the Court issued its written Final Statement of Decision. Judgment was entered in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiff. (See Court’s 03/10/20 Final Judgment.) Defendants thereafter filed a Memorandum of Costs seeking $29,541.58 in costs and a Motion for Attorney’s Fees.

  1. Motion to Tax Costs

    “‘If the items appearing in a cost bill appear to be proper charges, the burden

    is on the party seeking to tax costs to show that they were not reasonable or

    necessary. On the other hand, if the items are properly objected to, they are put in issue and the burden of proof is on the party claiming them as costs.’” (Nelson v. Anderson (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 111, 131.)

    “[T]he mere filing of a motion to tax costs may be a ‘proper objection’ to an item, the necessity of which appears doubtful, or which does not appear to be proper on its face. [Citation] However, ‘[i]f the items appear to be proper charges the verified memorandum is prima facie evidence that the costs, expenses and services therein listed were necessarily incurred by the defendant [citations], and the burden of showing that an item is not properly chargeable or is unreasonable is upon the [objecting party].’ [Citations]” (Id.)

    “The court’s first determination, therefore, is whether the statute expressly

    allows the particular item, and whether it appears proper on its face. [Citation] If so, the burden is on the objecting party to show them to be unnecessary or unreasonable. [Citation]” (Id.)

    Defendants are the prevailing parties in this action and, therefore, are entitled to “costs and expenses” pursuant to C.C.P. §1032(b).

    Plaintiff argues that all costs ($1,566.74 in filing and motion fees; $821.30 in deposition costs; $277.88 in service of process; $14,688.00 in witness fees; $2,663.40 in models, enlargements, and photocopies of exhibits; $227.11 in electronic filing; and $9,297.15 in other) should be taxed since they are not allowed or were not reasonably necessary to Defendants’ defense in the case. (Motion, pg. 2.)

    Evidentiary Objections

    Plaintiff’s objections nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 , 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 are overruled; objections nos. 5 and 11 (as to “I believe that several attempts….” only) are sustained.

    Item No. 1 (Filing and Motion Fees)

    C.C.P. §1033.5(a)(1) provides that filing, motion, and jury fees are allowable as costs.

    Plaintiff argues that the amount sought by Defendants should be taxed by $576.74. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment ($500) was unsuccessful, and Defendants’ ex parte application ($76.74) is of unknown date and subject matter. (Motion, pg. 3.)

    Plaintiff has not met his burden in showing that these fees were unnecessary

    or unreasonable. Plaintiff has not provided authority that losing on a motion for summary judgment or not including the date for a motion makes the filing of such motions unreasonable or unnecessary. Merely objecting to the costs as unnecessary or unreasonable does not shift the burden to Defendants to establish that they were reasonable or necessary.

    Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to tax this item is denied.

    Item No. 4 (Deposition Costs)

    Under C.C.P. §1033.5(a)(3), allowable costs include: “Taking, video recording, and transcribing necessary depositions including an original and one copy of those taken by the claimant and one copy of depositions taken by the party against whom costs are allowed, and travel expenses to attend deposition.”

    Plaintiff argues that the amount sought by Defendants should be taxed by $821.30 because Defendants never took any depositions. (Motion, pg. 4.)

    Plaintiffs met their burden, shifting the burden to Defendants to show these costs were necessary and reasonable. Defendants have not met their burden. Defendants do not cite any authority that would allow Defendants to recover costs for a deposition taken in another action, making these costs unrecoverable.

    Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to tax this item is granted.

    Item No. 5 (Service of Process)

    Under C.C.P. §1033.5(a)(4), allowable costs include: “Service of process by a public officer, registered process server, or other means…”

    Plaintiff argues that the amount sought by Defendants should be taxed by $277.88 because Dale Reicheneder was never a party or witness in the action, and no subpoena was necessary for Plaintiff’s own expert, David Owens. (Motion, pg. 4.)

    Plaintiffs met their burden, shifting the burden to Defendants to show these costs were necessary and reasonable. Defendants have not met their burden. Defendants have not shown why it was reasonable or necessary to subpoena Dale Reicheneder, a non-party and non-witness to the action. Neither have Defendants shown why it was reasonable or necessary to subpoena David Owens, Plaintiff’s expert witness, who would already be appearing at trial.

    Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to tax this item is granted.

    Item No. 8 (Witness Fees)

    Under C.C.P. §1033.5(a)(8), allowable costs include: “fees of expert witnesses ordered by the court.” However, this section does not apply to section 998 offers. C.C.P § 998 provides, “If an offer made by a defendant is not accepted and the plaintiff fails to obtain a more favorable judgment or award…the court,…in its discretion, may require the plaintiff to pay a reasonable sum to cover postoffer costs of the services of expert witnesses…”

    Defendants made a rejected section 998 offer on Plaintiff in the amount of $4,500 and seek costs of witness fees under section 998. (Larson Decl., Exh. 1.) Plaintiff contends this offer was not reasonable or code compliant. (Reply, pg. 2-6.)

    Plaintiff argues that the amount sought by Defendants should be taxed by $14,688 because these fees were not court ordered pursuant to C.C.P. § 1033.5(b)(1). (Motion, pg. 4.) Plaintiff also argues that the section 998 offer did not contain anything regarding acceptance, as is required. (Puerta v. Torres (2011) 195 Cal. App. 4th 1267, 1273.) Nor was the section 998 offer reasonable, as is required. (Elrod v. Oregon Cummins Diesel, Inc. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 692, 694.)

    Defendants are not entitled to expert fees. The parties dispute whether Defendants served Plaintiff with a section 998 offer. (Larson Decl., ¶ 4, Exh. 1; McMahon Decl., ¶ 1.) Regardless of whether it was served, the section 998 was not code compliant. It did not “include a provision that allows the accepting party to indicate acceptance of the offer by signing a statement that the offer is accepted.” (C.C.P. § 998(b); Puerta v. Torres, supra, 195 Cal.App.4th at p. 1269.) Thus, there is no valid section 998 offer.

    Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to tax this item is granted.

    Item No. 12 (Models, Enlargements, and Photocopies of Exhibits)

    Under C.C.P. §1033.5(a)(13), allowable costs include costs for “[m]odels, the enlargements of exhibits and photocopies of exhibits, and the electronic presentation of exhibits, including costs of rental equipment and electronic formatting… if they were reasonably helpful to aid the trier of fact.” (See Seever v. Copley Press, Inc. (2006) 141 Cal.App.4th 1550, 1557-1558 (“On its face this statutory language excludes as a permissible item of costs exhibits not used at trial, which obviously could not have assisted the trier of fact. [Citations]”).)

    Plaintiff argues that the amount sought by Defendants should be taxed by $2,663.40 because Defendants do not specify what those costs are for, and only the Court’s Elmo was used to submit the exhibits at trial. (Motion, pg. 4-5.) Defendants seek to recover costs for photocopies of pleadings, court orders, and hearing transcripts from the underlying malpractice claim. (Opposition, pg. 5.) These matters were used at trial. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to tax this item is denied.

    Item No. 14 (Fees for Electronic Filing or Service)

    Under C.C.P. §1033.5(a)(13), allowable costs include: “Fees for the electronic filing or service of documents through an electronic filings service provider if a court requires or orders electronic filing or service of documents.”

    Plaintiff argues that the amount sought by Defendants should be taxed by $227.11 because Defendants have not specified what particular Court proceedings those claimed fees relate to. (Motion, pg. 5.) Defendants agree that the amount sought should be taxed by $227.11. (Opposition, pg. 6.)

    Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to tax this item is granted.

    Item No. 16 (Other)

    Under C.C.P. §1033.5(a)(16), allowable costs include: “Any other item that

    is required to be awarded to the prevailing party pursuant to statute as an incident to prevailing in the action at trial or on appeal.” “If a specific cost item is not identified in either Code of Civil Procedure section 1033.5, subdivision (a), or subdivision (b), it may be awarded in the trial court's discretion under section 1033.5, subdivision (c)(4), provided it satisfies the further requirement of section 1033.5, subdivision (c)(2), that it was reasonably necessary to the conduct of the litigation.” (Seever v. Copley Press, Inc. (2006) 141 Cal.App.4th 1550, 1558.)

    Defendants seek court reporter fees and courier fees for trial binders delivered to the Court and Defendants’ expert. (Opposition, pg. 6-7.) Plaintiff argues that the amount sought by Defendants should be taxed by $9,297.15 because the costs were either not Court-ordered or not specified as recoverable costs under the statute. (Motion, pg. 5.)

    Court reporter fees are only recoverable if ordered by the court. (C.C.P. § 1033.5(a)(9).) The Court did not order Defendants to provide transcripts of the trial. (See 10/03/19 Minute Order (Non-Jury Trial).) As such, Defendants cannot recover such costs.

    Courier fees are subject to the Court’s discretion and the court allows the fees.

    Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to tax this item is granted in the reduced amount of $8,160.

    Conclusion

    Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s motion to tax costs is granted in the reduced amount of $24,174.84. Defendants are entitled to $5,367.29 in costs.

  2. Motion for Attorney’s Fees

Civil Code section 1717(a) provides, in pertinent part, as follows: “In any action on a contract, where the contract specifically provides that attorney’s fees and costs, which are incurred to enforce that contract, shall be awarded either to one of the parties or to the prevailing party, then the party who is determined to be the party prevailing on the contract, whether he or she is the party specified in the contract or not, shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees in addition to other costs.” However, an attorney that represents himself cannot recover fees for representing himself. (Trope v Katz (1995) 11 Cal. 4th 274.)

In its March 10, 2020 Judgment, the Court entered judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s three causes of action. (See Court’s 03/10/20 Final Judgment.) The Court ordered that Defendants were entitled to allowable costs of suit and that attorneys’ fees, if any, would be determined by motion. (Id. at pg. 2.) Defendants request attorney’s fees in the amount of $216,610.

Evidentiary Objections

Plaintiff submitted the declaration of Brian D. McMahon in support of its opposition to Defendants’ motion. In their reply, Defendants object to the declaration on the grounds that it was not served. Defendants have had the opportunity to review the declaration and accordingly, the objection is overruled.

Whether Larson is Entitled to Attorney’s Fees

Defendants are seeking the attorney’s fees of Karen Larson (“Larson”) under the retainer agreement between Plaintiff and CLG and California Civil Code § 1717(a). (Motion, pg. 4; Larson Decl. ¶¶ 3, 17, Exh. 1.)

The attorney’s fee provision at issue provides as follows: “If any action at law or in equity, in court or in arbitration, is necessary to enforce or interpret the terms of this Retainer Agreement, the prevailing party shall be entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees.” In a case with remarkably similar language, the court held that the provision excluded tort claim for professional negligence, although the claim “arose from the [contractual] relationship between [the parties]” (Loube v. Loube (1998) 64 Cal.App. 4th 421, 429.) Here, as in Loube, the gravamen of the case was the underlying legal malpractice claim, thus Defendants are not entitled to attorney’s fees.

Even if the lawsuit was on the contract, Defendants are not entitled to legal fees as they are self-represented litigants. An attorney who choses “to proceed to litigate in propria persona and therefore does not pay or become liable to pay consideration in exchange for legal representation cannot recover “reasonable attorney's fees” under section 1717. (Trope v. Katz (1995) 11 Cal.4th 274, 292.) Self-represented attorneys include law firms that are represented by the firms' own attorneys (Witte v. Kaufman (2006) 141 Cal.App.4th 1201, 1210), law firms that are represented by “of counsel” attorneys (Sands & Associates v. Juknavorian (2012) 209 Cal.App.4th 1269, 1298) and firms who are represented by semi-permanent “contract” attorneys. (Ellis Law Group, LLP v. Nevada City Sugar Loaf Properties, LLC (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th at pp. 257–260.) Here, although Larson claims to be an independent contractor she is associated with the firm in a manner similar to an associate, partner or counsel. She is described on their website as one of their lawyers, her name appears on documents and motions filed in this case under CLG’s caption, and the time record submitted in support of Defendant’s Motion is printed on CLG letterhead. As to the individual defendant Lear, unlike Gilbert v. Master Washer & Stamping Co., Inc. (2001) 87 Cal.App. 4th 212, here the claims as to Lear related to his performance as a principal of the law firm.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, Defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees is denied.

Dated: October _____, 2020

Hon. Monica Bachner

Judge of the Superior Court

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