This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/04/2019 at 07:42:01 (UTC).

MUHAMET CIFLIGU ET AL VS. AMBITIONS CALIFORNIA, INC ET AL

Case Summary

On 02/15/2017 MUHAMET CIFLIGU filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against AMBITIONS CALIFORNIA, INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Torrance Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is DEIRDRE HILL. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****1865

  • Filing Date:

    02/15/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Torrance Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

DEIRDRE HILL

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Cross Plaintiffs

CIFLIGU MUHAMET AN INDIVIDUAL

CIFLIGU ZENEPE AN INDIVIDUAL

CIFLIGU MUHAMET

CIFLIGU ZENEPE

Defendants and Cross Defendants

JAMES A. WALSH INC.

WALSH & ASSOCIATES A WASHINGTON CORP.

AMIBITIONS CALIFORNIA INC.

AMBITIONS CALIFORNIA INC.

COLEMAN HERMAN

LUDWIG GEOFFREY

COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL GREATER LOS ANGELE

COLLIERS PARRISH INTERNATION INC.

BREMER & WHYTE LLP

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

MARK ROBBINS

DOWDALL TYLER RICHARD

Cross Defendant Attorney

SERRATO COURTNEY MARIE

Other Attorneys

CAUFIELD JEFFERY L.

 

Court Documents

Unknown

7/31/2017: Unknown

Unknown

8/24/2017: Unknown

Unknown

9/21/2017: Unknown

Unknown

9/22/2017: Unknown

Unknown

10/3/2017: Unknown

Unknown

11/8/2017: Unknown

Order

12/7/2017: Order

Request for Judicial Notice

10/22/2018: Request for Judicial Notice

Declaration

10/24/2018: Declaration

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

10/24/2018: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

12/26/2018: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Proof of Personal Service

1/2/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Unknown

1/10/2019: Unknown

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

3/4/2019: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Request for Judicial Notice

3/25/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Request for Judicial Notice

4/3/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Objection

4/3/2019: Objection

Unknown

4/8/2019: Unknown

155 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/31/2019
  • Notice (of Entry of Order on Colliers International Greater Los Angeles, Inc.'s and Geoffrey Ludwig's Motion for Summary Adjudication); Filed by COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL GREATER LOS ANGELE (Cross-Defendant); GEOFFREY LUDWIG (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 05/23/2019
  • Order (.); Filed by COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL GREATER LOS ANGELE (Cross-Defendant); GEOFFREY LUDWIG (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 04/22/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department M; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 04/17/2019
  • Notice ( of Taking Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment Off-Calendar); Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff); ZENEPE, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/08/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department M; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment - Held

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  • 04/08/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/08/2019
  • Declaration (of Courtney M. Serrato in Support of Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment); Filed by COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL GREATER LOS ANGELE (Cross-Defendant); GEOFFREY LUDWIG (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 04/08/2019
  • Request for Judicial Notice; Filed by COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL GREATER LOS ANGELE (Cross-Defendant); GEOFFREY LUDWIG (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 04/08/2019
  • Memorandum of Points & Authorities; Filed by COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL GREATER LOS ANGELE (Cross-Defendant); GEOFFREY LUDWIG (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 04/08/2019
  • Objection (Evidentiary Objections); Filed by COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL GREATER LOS ANGELE (Cross-Defendant); GEOFFREY LUDWIG (Cross-Defendant)

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257 More Docket Entries
  • 02/28/2017
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff); ZENEPE, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/27/2017
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff); ZENEPE, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/27/2017
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff); ZENEPE, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/22/2017
  • Notice of Hearing; Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/22/2017
  • Request for Judicial Notice; Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/22/2017
  • Request for Judicial Notice; Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff); ZENEPE, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/22/2017
  • Notice of Hearing; Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/15/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff); ZENEPE, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/15/2017
  • Summons; Filed by MUHAMET, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff); ZENEPE, CIFLIGU (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/15/2017
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: YC071865    Hearing Date: September 16, 2020    Dept: B

LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT – SOUTHWEST DISTRICT

Honorable Gary Y. Tanaka

Department B

Wednesday – September 16, 2020

Calendar No. 9

PROCEEDINGS

Muhamet Cifligu, et al. v. Ambitions California, Inc., et al.

YC071865

  1. Colliers International Greater Los Angeles, Inc., et al.’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees

  2. Muhamet Cifligu, et al.’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees

  3. Colliers International Greater Los Angeles, Inc., et al.’s Motion to Tax Costs

  4. Muhamet Cifligu, et al.’s Motion to Tax Costs

  5. Muhamet Cifligu, et al.’s Motion to File Confidential Agreement Under Seal

    TENTATIVE RULING

  1. Colliers International Greater Los Angeles, Inc., et al.’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is granted.

  1. Muhamet Cifligu, et al.’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is denied.

  1. Colliers International Greater Los Angeles, Inc., et al.’s Motion to Tax Costs is granted.

  1. Muhamet Cifligu, et al.’s Motion to Tax Costs is denied.

  1. Muhamet Cifligu, et al.’s to Motion File Confidential Agreement Under Seal is denied.

Requests for Judicial Notice and Objections

Each parties’ respective requests for judicial notice are granted pursuant to Evidence Code § 452(d). In addition, the Court declines to rule upon the parties’ evidentiary objections as the Court determines that the objections are not material to the disposition of the motions.

Motions

  1. Colliers International Greater Los Angeles, Inc. and Geoffrey Ludwig’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees

Colliers International Greater Los Angeles, Inc. and Geoffrey Ludwig’s (collectively “Defendants” or “Brokers”) Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is granted.

Code of Civil Procedure § 1032(a)(4) states, in relevant part: “‘Prevailing party’ includes … a defendant in whose favor a dismissal is entered, a defendant where neither plaintiff nor defendant obtains any relief, and a defendant as against those plaintiffs who do not recover any relief against that defendant.”

Here, Plaintiffs dismissed the first cause of action for Equitable Indemnity as to the moving party (Brokers). On April 8, 2019 Brokers' Motion for Summary Adjudication as to the remaining seven causes of action was heard. On May 23, 2019, the Court granted the MSA. Thus, Plaintiffs took nothing as to Brokers from the First Amended Complaint. A dismissal was entered as to the first cause of action, and a judgment entered as against Plaintiff as to the remaining causes of action. Therefore, moving party was the prevailing party in this action as against Plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs point to a settlement that was reached between Brokers and Ambitions, Inc. and Ambitions California, Inc. However, as to Plaintiffs, no settlement was reached between Brokers and Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs proceeded as to the remaining claims and ultimately did not prevail against the Brokers. More importantly, Plaintiffs and Brokers carved out such exceptions in the Confidential Settlement Agreement, including that each party bear their own costs and fees to date, and will continue to litigate the action as to each other. Thus, Plaintiffs and Brokers chose to continue to litigate the merits of the instant action which resulted in a judgment in favor of moving party. The Court further notes that this Judgment was recently affirmed on appeal. Plaintiffs contend that the settlement between Brokers and Ambitions ultimately benefitted Plaintiffs because, at this point, this relieved Plaintiffs of potential liability against Ambitions. This argument reflects the status of the outcome as to Ambitions and Plaintiffs, only. As to Plaintiffs and Brokers it is clear that Brokers were the prevailing party as all causes of action asserted against them were adjudicated in their favor.

Civil Code § 1717(a) states: “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.”

Here, the lease agreement includes an attorneys’ fees provision in favor of the prevailing party. (FAC, Ex. 3.) Thus, Defendants are entitled to attorneys’ fees as the prevailing party on the contract.

“The trial court has “broad authority” to determine the amount of a reasonable attorneys’ fees. PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095. “[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.” Id. [“California courts have consistently held that a computation of time spent on a case and the reasonable value of that time is fundamental to a determination of an appropriate attorneys' fee award.”]. “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.” Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1132 (internal quotation omitted.)

Defendants are entitled to attorneys’ fees under the lodestar method based on the reasonable amount of time the attorney spent multiplied by a reasonable rate. Defendant’s counsel has provided a list of the various attorneys who worked on this case, their status either as partners or associates, and their hourly rates ranging from $300 per hour to $500 per hour. (Decl., Jeremy S. Johnson, ¶ 28.) The Court finds that the hourly rate is reasonable in considering the facts of this case and the attorneys’ experience. The Court finds that Defendant’s counsel’s declaration is sufficient to determine whether the amount of time expended was reasonable. Defendant’s counsel’s declaration set forth the total hours expended and the nature of the services provided within the hours expended. Defendants’ counsel attached copies of billing statements as well. In addition, Defendants’ counsel reasonably allocated 50 percent of the attorneys’ services prior to the settlement, and then 100 percent of such services when the defense of this action focused solely on defending against the causes of action asserted by Plaintiffs.

Therefore, the Court awards attorneys’ fees in favor of Defendants in the total amount of $191,037.50. Costs are recoverable pursuant to the Memorandum of Costs.

  1. Muhamet Cifligu and Zenepe Cifligu’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees

Muhamet Cifligu and Zenepe Cifligu’s (“Plaintiffs”) Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is denied.

Based on the Court’s reasoning above, granting Defendants’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is denied because Defendants, not Plaintiffs, are the prevailing parties herein.

  1. Colliers International Greater Los Angeles, Inc. and Geoffrey Ludwig’s Motion to Tax Costs is granted.

Colliers International Greater Los Angeles, Inc. and Geoffrey Ludwig’s (collectively “Defendants” or “Brokers”) Motion to Tax Costs is granted.

Based on the Court’s ruling granting Defendants’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, the Court has determined that Defendants are the prevailing parties. As such, Plaintiffs are not entitled to costs as against Defendants. Therefore, Defendants’ Motion to Tax Costs is granted.

  1. Muhamet Cifligu and Zenepe Cifligu’s Motion to Tax Costs

Muhamet Cifligu and Zenepe Cifligu’s (“Plaintiffs”) Motion to Tax Costs is denied.

Based on the Court’s ruling granting Defendants’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, the Court has determined that Defendants are the prevailing party as against Plaintiffs and, therefore, entitled to costs.

In addition, the costs sought to be stricken are recoverable and reasonable in amount. Filing fees of $435 to file an Answer to the Ambitions’ Cross-Complaint are specifically recoverable pursuant to CCP 1033.5(a)(1). Further, Brokers only became a party to the Cross-Complaint after Plaintiffs filed their FAC against Brokers.

Brokers are also entitled to recover their costs for service of process, in the sum of $980.00, by a registered process server pursuant to CCP 1033.5(a)(4). Process was incurred to serve all parties to the litigation, including the Texas resident Herman Coleman and all parties with Brokers’ Motion for Summary Adjudication. These costs were necessary and reasonable in defending against Plaintiffs’ FAC.

Thus, for the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Tax Costs is denied.

  1. Muhamet Cifligu and Zenepe Cifligu’s Motion to File Confidential Agreement Under Seal

Muhamet Cifligu and Zenepe Cifligu’s (“Plaintiffs”) Motion to File Confidential Agreement Under Seal is denied.

“A record must not be filed under seal without a court order. The court must not permit a record to be filed under seal based solely on the agreement or stipulation of the parties.” Cal. Rules of Court (“CRC”), Rule 2.551(a).

“A party requesting that a record be filed under seal must file a motion or an application for an order sealing the record. The motion or application must be accompanied by a memorandum and a declaration containing facts sufficient to justify the sealing.” CRC, Rule 2.551(b)(1). CRC, Rule 2.551(b)(4) also provides that the party requesting that a record be filed under seal must lodge it with the court when the motion or application is made and, pending the determination of the motion or application, the lodged record will be conditionally under seal.

“The court may order that a record be filed under seal only if it expressly finds facts that establish: (1) There exists an overriding interest that overcomes the right of public access to the record; (2) The overriding interest supports sealing the record; (3) A substantial probability exists that the overriding interest will be prejudiced if the record is not sealed; (4) The proposed sealing is narrowly tailored; and (5) No less restrictive means exist to achieve the overriding interest.” CRC, Rule 2.550(d).

Plaintiffs move for an order to seal numerous documents filed in conjunction with the numerous motions which are on calendar this date. However, primarily, Plaintiffs seek an order to seal the contents of the underlying settlement agreement an all documents which reference the financial terms of the settlement.

Plaintiffs identify the overriding interest as the contractual agreement between the parties not to disclose the financial terms of the settlement. (Declaration, Tyler R. Dowdall, ¶¶ 2-3.) Such a binding contractual agreement may constitute evidence of an overriding interest. Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Superior Court (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 1273, 1283.

Here, however, Plaintiffs submit no competent evidence to support a finding that the overriding interest identified by Plaintiffs overcomes the public right of access to the financial terms of the settlement, or that the overriding interest supports sealing all the documents filed which includes such financial terms. Plaintiffs provide no evidence to demonstrate that there is a probability that their interests will be prejudiced if the terms of the settlement agreement are made public. Id. at 1284.

The Court also finds that the proposed sealing order is not narrowly tailored. Plaintiffs have proposed sealing numerous documents not all of which include the financial terms of the settlement. Further, the Court finds that there are less restrictive means to achieve the identified overriding interest. However, as already stated, fundamentally, Plaintiffs failed to provide facts to justify that the purported need to order the financial terms of the settlement agreement sealed outweighs the public’s right of access to the information.

Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs’ Motion for an Order to Seal is denied. Plaintiffs are ordered to file unredacted versions of all documents previously filed under seal, forthwith.

Defendants are ordered to give notice of this ruling.