This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/16/2019 at 19:46:37 (UTC).

MYKYN WOODS VS GREYSTAR MANAGEMENT SERVICES LP

Case Summary

On 08/04/2017 MYKYN WOODS filed a Labor - Wrongful Termination lawsuit against GREYSTAR MANAGEMENT SERVICES LP. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are HOLLY E. KENDIG and ELAINE LU. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****0867

  • Filing Date:

    08/04/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Labor - Wrongful Termination

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

HOLLY E. KENDIG

ELAINE LU

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

WOODS MYKYN

Defendants and Respondents

GREYSTAR MANAGEMENT SERVICES LP

DOES 1 TO 100

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

ENGELMAN LAW APC

BOLES EEAN L.

ENGELMAN BRITANY MICHELLE

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

CRUSER MITCHELL NOVITZ SANCHEZ

ARAGON JASMINA E.

BALAM MANUEL DE JESUS JR

SCHWOB LANDON ROBERT

 

Court Documents

Unknown

1/10/2019: Unknown

Stipulation and Order

1/10/2019: Stipulation and Order

Minute Order

3/1/2019: Minute Order

Jury Instructions

3/12/2019: Jury Instructions

Jury Instructions

3/12/2019: Jury Instructions

Statement of the Case

3/12/2019: Statement of the Case

Jury Instructions

3/19/2019: Jury Instructions

Witness List

3/19/2019: Witness List

Brief

4/3/2019: Brief

Notice of Lodging

4/3/2019: Notice of Lodging

Jury Question

4/11/2019: Jury Question

Minute Order

4/11/2019: Minute Order

Trial Brief

4/24/2019: Trial Brief

Opposition

5/2/2019: Opposition

Order

5/10/2019: Order

NOTICE OF UNAVAILABILITY OF COUNSEL

1/17/2018: NOTICE OF UNAVAILABILITY OF COUNSEL

Unknown

12/8/2017: Unknown

Minute Order

12/11/2017: Minute Order

55 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/13/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Hearing - Other (rePrejudgment interest) - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

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  • 05/10/2019
  • at 2:13 PM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Non-Appearance Case Review

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  • 05/10/2019
  • Order (Re: Prejudgment interest); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/10/2019
  • Certificate of Mailing for (Minute Order (Non-Appearance Case Review) of 05/10/2019 and Order); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/10/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Non-Appearance Case Review)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/06/2019
  • Reply (Plaintiff's Reply to Opposition Regarding Calculation of Prejudgment Interest Under Civil Code Sec. 3288); Filed by Mykyn Woods (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/02/2019
  • Opposition (Defendant's Post-Trial Opposition Brief re Calculation of Prejudgment Interest Under Civil Code 3288; Declaration of Jasmina E. Aragon in Support); Filed by Greystar Management Services, LP (Defendant)

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  • 04/24/2019
  • Trial Brief; Filed by Mykyn Woods (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/15/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Jury Trial ((4 to 5 days)) - Not Held - Clerical Error

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  • 04/12/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Jury Trial ((4 to 5 days)) - Not Held - Clerical Error

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76 More Docket Entries
  • 11/15/2017
  • Case Management Statement; Filed by Mykyn Woods (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/30/2017
  • Answer; Filed by Greystar Management Services, LP (Defendant)

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  • 10/30/2017
  • DEFENDANT GREYSTAR MANAGEMENT SERVICES, LP.'S ANSWER TO COMPLAINT

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  • 09/26/2017
  • NOTICE OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RECEIPT - CIVIL

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  • 09/26/2017
  • Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt; Filed by Mykyn Woods (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/11/2017
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 08/11/2017
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE & OSC RE PROOF OF SERVICE

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  • 08/04/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Mykyn Woods (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/04/2017
  • SUMMONS

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  • 08/04/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. WRONGFUL TERMINATION IN VIOLATION OF THE FEHA; ETC

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC670867    Hearing Date: February 25, 2020    Dept: 26

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

Mykyn woods,

Plaintiff,

v.

greystar management services lp; and DOES 1 to 100.

Defendants.

Case No.: BC670867

Hearing Date: February 25, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

Plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees

Background

Following a jury trial, the Court entered judgment in this action on August 20, 2019 in favor of (“Plaintiff”) for all causes of action. (See Judgment after Jury Trial, 8/20/19.) On November 25, 2019, Defendants filed the instant motion for attorney fees. On February 18, 2020, the parties stipulated to allow a late opposition and reply to this motion. Accordingly, the Court will consider the opposition and reply. On February 18, 2020, Defendant filed an opposition. On February 19, 2020, Plaintiff filed a reply.

Evidentiary Objections

Defendant objects to the entirety of the Declaration of Anthony Nguyen and to the Declaration of Carl Douglas for hearsay, lack of foundation and authentication, and relevance.

These objections are unnecessary because the Court, when reviewing the evidence is presumed to ignore material it knows is incompetent, irrelevant, or inadmissible.  (In re Marriage of Davenport (2011) 194 Cal. App. 4th 1507, 1526.)  Courts are presumed to know and apply the correct statutory and case law and to be able to distinguish admissible from inadmissible evidence, relevant from irrelevant facts, and to recognize those facts which properly may be considered in the judicial decision-making process.  (People v. Coddington (2000) 23 Cal.4th 529, 644.)  Accordingly, the Court overrules these objections.

Legal Standard

Pursuant to Government Code section 12965 subdivision (b): “In civil actions brought under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award to the prevailing party, including the department, reasonable attorney's fees and costs, including expert witness fees . . .”

In determining what fees are reasonable, California courts apply the “lodestar” approach. (See, e.g., Holguin v. DISH Network LLC (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 1310, 1332.) This inquiry “begins with the ‘lodestar,’ i.e., the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate.” (See PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095.) From there, the “[t]he 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.” (Ibid.) Relevant factors include: “(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, [and] (4) the contingent nature of the fee award.” (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1132.)

Discussion

Right to Recover

Plaintiff has prevailed on multiple FEHA claims under Government Code section 12960. (See Judgment after Jury Trial, 8/20/19.) Accordingly, the Court may award attorney’s fees pursuant to Government Code section 12965(b).

Reasonableness of Attorney’s Fees

Plaintiff seeks attorney fees in the amount of $254,906.25.

The trial court has broad authority to determine the amount of a reasonable fee. (PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095.) The party bears the burden of proof as to “reasonableness” of any fee claim. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1033.5, subd. (c)(5).) The party seeking fees has the burden of documenting the appropriate hours expended and hourly rates. (City of Colton v. Singletary (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 751, 784.) 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.)

An attorney's testimony as to the number of hours worked is sufficient evidence to support an award of attorney fees, even in the absence of detailed time records or billing statements, and there is no requirement that such records or statements be offered in evidence. (Steiny & Co., Inc. v. California Electric Supply Co. (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 285, 293.) Ascertaining the fee amount is left to the trial court’s sound discretion. (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1132.)

Attorney Britany M. Engelman

Lead counsel for Plaintiff, Britany M. Engelman, seeks an hourly rate of $625.00 and a total of 288.75 hours of work on this case. (Engelman Decl. ¶¶ 20, 25.) Engelman was lead counsel and the sole attorney handling this case from the filing of the complaint in August 2017 through February 2019. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Engelman spent these hours conducting client meetings, drafting pleadings, drafting and opposing post-trial motions, reviewing evidence, speaking to witnesses, preparing pre-trial pleadings, drafting trial materials, and conducting a five-day jury trial. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Britany M. Engelman also provides a billing sheet listing the hours spent throughout the entirety of the three years. (Id., at pp. 7-17.)

In opposition, Defendant contends that Britany M. Engelman’s hourly rate is not reasonable because the nature of the litigation was simple and straightforward, that she has not presented her customary rate nor why the customary rate is consistent with similarly-experienced attorneys, and that she not presented evidence that she has any special or extraordinary prior experience with employment matters.

The Court disagrees. Plaintiff presents evidence that lead counsel Britany M. Engelman has fourteen years of experience as a trial attorney, was a senior associate at the Cochran firm for five years, has multiple awards and nominations, and has litigated various high-profile cases. (Engelman Decl. ¶¶ 14-18.) Further, Plaintiff also presents declarations of other attorneys to support Britany M. Engelman’s hourly rate and experience. (See Nguyen Decl. ¶ 10; Douglas Decl. ¶¶ 11-13; Diggs Decl. ¶¶ 15-16.) Moreover, Plaintiff presents evidence that the hourly rate that Britany M. Engelman has requested is below her customary hourly rate of $650.

The Court finds that the claimed rate is within the range of prevailing rates for attorneys in the community. Furthermore, the Court finds that the hours spent are also reasonable as the hours include the entirety of three years of trial preparation, a five-day jury trial, and post-trial motions. Therefore, the Court awards the full $180,468.75 with regard to Britany M. Engelman’s work.

Attorney Jamon R. Hicks

Attorney Jamon R. Hicks served as co-counsel for Plaintiff on this case starting around February 2019. (Hicks Decl. ¶ 13.) Jamon R. Hicks had an hourly rate of $750.00 and spent a total of 99.25 hours working on this case. (Id. at ¶¶ 14-15.) He has been a trial attorney for fourteen years, has worked various high-profile case, has won numerous awards, and has been awarded this rate before. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-11, 16.) These hours were spent conducting client meetings, drafting pleadings, drafting and opposing post-trial motions, reviewing evidence, speaking to witnesses, preparing pre-trial pleadings, drafting trial materials, and conducting a five-day jury trial. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Jamon R. Hicks also provides a billing sheet to support the claim for hours spent. (Id., Ex. 1.) Defendant does not oppose this.

The Court finds that these rates are within the range of prevailing rates for attorneys in the community. Furthermore, the Court finds that the hours spent are also reasonable for trial preparations, a five-day jury trial, and post-trial motions. Therefore, the Court awards the full amount of $74,437.50 with regard to Jamon R. Hicks’s work.

Lodestar Enhancement

In whether to apply a multiplier the California Supreme Court has given clear guidance for the trial courts to follow.

Of course, the trial court is not required to include a fee enhancement to the basic lodestar figure for contingent risk, exceptional skill, or other factors, although it retains discretion to do so in the appropriate case; moreover, the party seeking a fee enhancement bears the burden of proof. In each case, the trial court should consider whether, and to what extent, the attorney and client have been able to mitigate the risk of nonpayment, e.g., because the client has agreed to pay some portion of the lodestar amount regardless of outcome. It should also consider the degree to which the relevant market compensates for contingency risk, extraordinary skill, or other factors under Serrano III. We emphasize that when determining the appropriate enhancement, a trial court should not consider these factors to the extent they are already encompassed within the lodestar. The factor of extraordinary skill, in particular, appears susceptible to improper double counting; for the most part, the difficulty of a legal question and the quality of representation are already encompassed in the lodestar. A more difficult legal question typically requires more attorney hours, and a more skillful and experienced attorney will command a higher hourly rate.

(Ketchum, supra, 24 Cal.4th at pp.1138–1139.)

Plaintiff requests a lodestar enhancement multiplier of 1.5[1] given the contingent risk, preclusion of other work, difficulty of questions involved, and the skill displayed in presenting the issues. Defendant opposes stating that the fees should be apportioned based upon Plaintiff’s failure to prevail on her interactive process and reasonable accommodation claims and that the case was not particularly complex.

The Court declines to apply any enhancement multiplier for this case. The Court is mindful of the contingent nature of the case and the high caliber of work demonstrated by all Counsel in the instant action. Nonetheless, the Court has already addressed Plaintiff’s attorneys’ skillful display in presenting the evidence in the calculation of the hours worked and hourly rate above. Further, the Court finds that evidence presented at trial and again in the post judgment motions reflect that this case involved relatively simple and straightforward issues. Accordingly, the Court declines to apply any enhancement multiplier.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees is GRANTED in the total amount of $254,906.25.

Plaintiff is ordered to provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such.

DATED: February 25, 2020 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court


[1] Plaintiff states that they request a 0.5 multiplier however it is clear that Plaintiff means a 1.5 multiplier as a 0.5 multiplier would result in a reduction of the attorney fees awarded.