This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/28/2019 at 01:18:10 (UTC).

KEJIA SHAN ET AL VS GENERAL MOTORS LLC

Case Summary

On 03/16/2018 a Contract - Other Contract case was filed by KEJIA SHAN against GENERAL MOTORS LLC in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****8152

  • Filing Date:

    03/16/2018

  • 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

TERESA A. BEAUDET

 

Party Details

Petitioners and Plaintiffs

SHAN KEJIA

ZHUO JING

Respondents and Defendants

DOES 1 THROUGH 20

GENERAL MOTORS LLC

 

Court Documents

NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS OR OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION

6/5/2018: NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS OR OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION

PLAINTIFFS' SEPARATE STATEMENT OF ITEMS IN DISPUTE IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL THE DEPOSITION OF DEFENDANT GENERAL MOTORS LLC'S PERSON(S) MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE, WITH PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

7/6/2018: PLAINTIFFS' SEPARATE STATEMENT OF ITEMS IN DISPUTE IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL THE DEPOSITION OF DEFENDANT GENERAL MOTORS LLC'S PERSON(S) MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE, WITH PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE ORDER

7/16/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE ORDER

NOTICE OF INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE

8/2/2018: NOTICE OF INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE

DEFENDANT GENERAL MOTORS LLC'S SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL THE DEPOSITION OF DEFENDANT'S PERSON MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE AND REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMEN

9/7/2018: DEFENDANT GENERAL MOTORS LLC'S SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL THE DEPOSITION OF DEFENDANT'S PERSON MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE AND REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMEN

PLAINTIFFS KEJIA SHAN AND JING ZHUO'S EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO THE DECLARATION OF JOSEPH DANKERT, ESQ.

9/14/2018: PLAINTIFFS KEJIA SHAN AND JING ZHUO'S EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO THE DECLARATION OF JOSEPH DANKERT, ESQ.

ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE

9/21/2018: ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE

Minute Order

10/30/2018: Minute Order

Opposition

3/19/2019: Opposition

Declaration

3/19/2019: Declaration

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

3/19/2019: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Notice of Motion

3/19/2019: Notice of Motion

Ex Parte Application

3/20/2019: Ex Parte Application

Minute Order

3/20/2019: Minute Order

Certificate of Mailing for

4/10/2019: Certificate of Mailing for

Minute Order

4/17/2019: Minute Order

Notice of Settlement

4/25/2019: Notice of Settlement

SUMMONS

3/16/2018: SUMMONS

41 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/21/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 50, Teresa A. Beaudet, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery") - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

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  • 05/20/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 50, Teresa A. Beaudet, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery") - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

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  • 05/14/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 50, Teresa A. Beaudet, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Party

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  • 05/13/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 50, Teresa A. Beaudet, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Party

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  • 05/07/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 50, Teresa A. Beaudet, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Party

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  • 05/06/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 50, Teresa A. Beaudet, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Party

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  • 05/03/2019
  • Notice (Of Order to Show Cause re Dismissal); Filed by Kejia Shan (Plaintiff); Jing Zhuo (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/30/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 50, Teresa A. Beaudet, Presiding; Status Conference (re Notice of Settlement) - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Court

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  • 04/30/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Status Conference re Notice of Settlement)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/26/2019
  • at 3:00 PM in Department 50, Teresa A. Beaudet, Presiding; Non-Appearance Case Review (re submission of Notice of Settlement) - Held

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79 More Docket Entries
  • 06/05/2018
  • NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS OR OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION

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  • 04/18/2018
  • Answer; Filed by General Motors LLC (Defendant)

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  • 04/18/2018
  • ANSWER OF DEFENDANT GENERAL MOTORS LLC., TO UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT OF PLAINTIFFS KEJIA SHAN AND JING ZHOU

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  • 03/26/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 03/26/2018
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Kejia Shan (Plaintiff); Jing Zhuo (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/23/2018
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/23/2018
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 03/16/2018
  • Complaint; Filed by Kejia Shan (Plaintiff); Jing Zhuo (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/16/2018
  • SUMMONS

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  • 03/16/2018
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC698152    Hearing Date: February 28, 2020    Dept: 50

 

 

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 50

kejia shan, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

general motors, llc, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.:

BC 698152

Hearing Date:

February 28, 2020

Hearing Time:

8:30 a.m.

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE:

PLAINTIFFS KEJIA SHAN AND JING ZHUO’S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS PURSUANT TO CIVIL CODE SECTION 1974(d)

Background

This is a Lemon Law Action involving the purchase of a 2012 Chevrolet Equinox (the “Subject Vehicle”). The parties settled this action on April 2, 2019, when Plaintiffs Kejia Shan and Jing Zhuo (jointly, “Plaintiffs”) accepted an offer by Defendant General Motors, LLC (“GM”) pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 998 in the amount of $18,365.51. (Barry Decl., ¶ 9, Ex. 4.)

Plaintiffs now move for an award of attorney fees and costs in the total amount of $67,880.23. GM opposes.

Evidence

The Court denies GM’s request for judicial notice as to Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 as irrelevant. (Town of Atherton v. California High-Speed Rail Authority (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 314, 341 [denying requests for judicial notice as to irrelevant matters].) For the same reason, the Court sustains Plaintiffs’ objections to GM’s request for judicial notice.

The Court rules on GM’s evidentiary objections as follows:

Objection Nos. 1-3 are sustained.

Discussion

Civil Code section 1794, subdivision (d) 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.”

“[T]he fee setting inquiry in California ordinarily begins with the ‘lodestar,’ i.e., the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate. … The reasonable hourly rate is that prevailing in the community for similar work. The 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.” (PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095 [internal citations omitted]; see Robertson v. Fleetwood Travel Trailers of California, Inc. (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 785, 818 [applying the lodestar method to determine attorneys’ fees in Song-Beverly action].)

The Hourly Rate of Counsel

From February 2018 through the present, Plaintiffs’ counsel, the Barry Law Firm, billed 130.9 hours for services rendered. (Barry Decl., ¶ 10, Ex. 5.) The Barry Law Firm’s hourly billing rates are as follows: David N. Barry, $475/hour prior to October 2019 and $525/hour after October 2019, Sarah Jane Norris, $250/hour prior to October 2019 and $300/hour after October 2019, and Logan Pascal, $250. (Barry Decl., ¶¶ 13, 57; Norris Decl., ¶ 6; Pascal Decl., ¶ 5.) Each of the attorneys attest to the reasonableness of their hourly rates as well as to their experience. (Barry Decl., ¶¶ 13-14, 16; Norris Decl., ¶¶ 3-5; Pascal Decl., ¶¶ 3-4.)

The Court finds that the hourly rates requested by Plaintiffs’ counsel are reasonable and commensurate with rates charged by attorneys with comparable skill and experience. “The courts repeatedly have stated that the trial court is in the best position to value the services rendered by the attorneys in his or her courtroom, and this includes the determination of the hourly rate that will be used in the lodestar calculus.” (569 East County Boulevard LLC v. Backcountry Against the Dump, Inc. (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 426, 436-437 [internal citations omitted].) “In making its calculation, the court may rely on its own knowledge and familiarity with the legal market, as well as the experience, skill, and reputation of the attorney requesting fees . . . .” (Id. at p. 437.)

Lodestar Multiplier

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.)

However, the court must not consider extraordinary skill and the other Serrano factors to the extent these are already included within the lodestar. (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1138-1139.) “[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 seek a 1.25 lodestar multiplier on account of this being a contingency case. However, the Court finds that none of the other factors support the application of a multiplier. There is no indication that this case was complex or presented challenging legal issues, particularly considering that Plaintiffs’ counsel specializes in these types of cases. There is no evidence that Plaintiffs’ counsel was precluded from taking other cases because of the nature of this case. Nor is the success achieved by Plaintiffs’ counsel exceptional. The Court also notes that the hourly rate requested by Plaintiffs’ counsel is reasonable because of counsel’s demonstrated skill and experience. Because the quality of representation and the degree of skill exercised by Plaintiff’s counsel is already factored into the lodestar, it would be unreasonable to award an enhancement. (See Holguin v. Dish Network LLC (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 1310, 1333 [“Where, as here, the court determines that the lodestar itself constitutes a reasonable fee for the action at issue, no enhancement is warranted.”].)

Accordingly, the Court declines to apply a multiplier to the lodestar amount.

Reasonableness of the Requested Fees

“[T]he court's discretion in awarding attorney fees is … to be exercised so as to fully compensate counsel for the prevailing party for services reasonably provided to his or her client.” (Horsford v. Board of Trustees of California State University (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 359, 395.) The trial court may reduce the award where the fee request appears unreasonably inflated, such as where the attorneys’ efforts are unorganized or duplicative. (Serrano v. Unruh (1982) 32 Cal.3d 621, 635, fn. 21.) “[T]he verified time statements of the attorneys, as officers of the court, are entitled to credence in the absence of a clear indication the records are erroneous.” (Horsford v. Board of Trustees of California State University, supra, at p. 396.)

Here, Plaintiffs’ counsel has attached billing statements to the instant motion detailing the nature of the work performed. (Barry Decl., ¶ 10, Ex. 5.)

GM contends that counsel’s claimed fees are unreasonable and specifically identifies the following items as unreasonable:

  1. 13.8 hours for travel;

  2. 1.5 hours for preparing, traveling to and from, and attending an OSC hearing in January;

  3. 5.0 hours anticipated for an unfiled prejudgment interest motion; and

  4. 15.5 hours for the instant fees motion.

The Court notes that GM failed to identify the entries that comprise the 13.8 hours for travel. In any event, the Court finds that travel time is compensable, and the travel time set forth in counsel’s billing statements are reasonable. The Court does not find the time billed for the OSC to be unreasonable. However, the Court agrees that the time billed for the anticipated prejudgment interest motion (5 hours) and some of the other time billed for the fees motion is excessive, as follows:

  1. 1.5 hours for reviewing the file in preparation for the fee motion by Mr. Barry on January 13, 2020;

  2. 0.3 hours for reviewing the file and updating the billing time in a declaration in support of the fee motion by Ms. Norris on January 22, 2020 (when there is no indication that such a review was necessary);

  3. 0.1 hours for conferencing with staff by Ms. Norris on January 23, 2020; and

  4. 2 hours for reviewing the file in preparation for the fee motion by Mr. Barry on February 18, 2020.

These entries total $4,582.50, so the Court will deduct this amount from the total award.

GM also argues that Mr. Barry’s 75 hours (out of a total of 130.9) billed on this case is unreasonable because he is the most senior attorney in his firm, with the highest hourly rate and should not have spent so much time doing routine tasks like preparing pleadings and discovery. To the extent that GM is arguing that a reduction of Mr. Barry’s hourly rate should be applied to all of Mr. Barry’s entries, the Court declines to do so. To the extent that GM is arguing that certain tasks performed by Mr. Barry were billed excessively, the Court notes that GM only identified the time billed for the instant fee motion, which has already been addressed above.

Lastly, GM argues that counsel for Plaintiffs improperly seek $160 in parking fees as costs. (Barry Decl., ¶ 4, Ex. 7.) Plaintiffs do not oppose this reduction or otherwise respond to the argument. Therefore, the Court will reduce Plaintiffs’ costs award by $160.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs’ motion is granted in part. Plaintiffs are entitled to recover $46,403 in attorney fees and $3,992.10 in costs from GM.

Plaintiffs are ordered to give notice.

DATED: February 28, 2020 ________________________________

Hon. Teresa A. Beaudet

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court