This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/19/2019 at 01:22:44 (UTC).

NEWCASTLE MANOR HOMEOWNERS ASSOC. VS JOEL OSTROFF

Case Summary

On 02/07/2018 NEWCASTLE MANOR HOMEOWNERS ASSOC filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against JOEL OSTROFF. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Van Nuys Courthouse East located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is MICHAEL J. CONVEY. The case status is Disposed - Judgment Entered.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****6848

  • Filing Date:

    02/07/2018

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Judgment Entered

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

MICHAEL J. CONVEY

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

NEWCASTLE MANOR HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION

Defendants

DOES 1-50

OSTROFF JOEL

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

TASHJIAN LISA ARPI

 

Court Documents

Complaint

2/7/2018: Complaint

Legacy Document

2/7/2018: Legacy Document

Legacy Document

2/7/2018: Legacy Document

Civil Case Cover Sheet

2/7/2018: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

3/7/2018: Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

Notice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment

5/9/2018: Notice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

5/9/2018: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Legacy Document

5/22/2018: Legacy Document

Case Management Statement

6/20/2018: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

8/6/2018: Case Management Statement

Minute Order

8/20/2018: Minute Order

Notice of Ruling

8/28/2018: Notice of Ruling

Notice

10/12/2018: Notice

Request for Dismissal

10/12/2018: Request for Dismissal

Case Management Statement

10/17/2018: Case Management Statement

Notice

10/18/2018: Notice

Notice

10/18/2018: Notice

Notice of Rejection - Application for Default Judgment by Court - Contract or Tort

10/18/2018: Notice of Rejection - Application for Default Judgment by Court - Contract or Tort

44 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 07/17/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department U, Michael J. Convey, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (to Continue Motion for an Order of Contempt)

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  • 07/17/2019
  • Order ([Proposed] Order Advancing Hearing Date On OSC Re Contempt); Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2019
  • Declaration in Support of Ex Parte Application; Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2019
  • Declaration in Support of Ex Parte Application; Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2019
  • Ex Parte Application (Ex Parte Application For An Order Continuing Hearing Date On Motion For An Order Of Contempt); Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/28/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department U, Michael J. Convey, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (for an Order Advancing Hearing Date on Motion for an Order of Contempt) - Held

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  • 06/28/2019
  • Order ((Proposed) on Ex Parte Application for Order Advancing Hearing Date on Contempt Motion)

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  • 06/28/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Ex Parte Application for an Order Advancing Hearin...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/18/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department U, Michael J. Convey, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (for an Order Advancing Hearing Date on Motion for an Order of Contempt) - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 06/17/2019
  • at 11:00 AM in Department U, Michael J. Convey, Presiding; Non-Appearance Case Review

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54 More Docket Entries
  • 07/03/2018
  • Minute order entered: 2018-07-03 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/20/2018
  • Case Management Statement; Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/22/2018
  • Default Entered; Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/09/2018
  • Notice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment (SECTION 6B DEFECTIVE. MAILING DATE OF DOCUMENT CANNOT PRECEDE THE EXECUTION OF THE DOCUMENT. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE MAILED A DOCUMENT THAT HAS NOT BEEN EXECUTED.); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/09/2018
  • Request for Entry of Default / Judgment; Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/07/2018
  • Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint; Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/07/2018
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/07/2018
  • Complaint; Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/07/2018
  • Notice

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  • 02/07/2018
  • Summons-Issued; Filed by Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: LC106848    Hearing Date: September 29, 2020    Dept: U

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - NORTHWEST DISTRICT

NEWCASTLE MANOR HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, a California non-profit mutual benefit corporation,

Plaintiff,

vs.

JOEL OSTROFF, an individual; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive,

Defendants.

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CASE NO: LC106848

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO AMEND JUDGMENT

Dept. U

8:30 a.m.

September 29, 2020

I. BACKGROUND

On February 7, 2018, Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff) filed a complaint against Joel Ostroff (Defendant) and Does 1 through 50, alleging claims for: (1) breach of contract/CC&Rs; (2) preliminary and permanent injunction; (3) negligence; (4) nuisance; and (5) declaratory relief.

Defendant never appeared or answered. Default judgment was entered against Defendant on March 19, 2019. The Court found that Defendant failed to maintain his condominium in conformity with Plaintiff’s CC&Rs and prevented Plaintiff from making the necessary improvements to bring the unit into compliance. The Court ordered Defendant to vacate the unit in order to allow Plaintiff to make the necessary improvements to bring the unit into compliance. Defendant was ordered to reimburse Plaintiff for the cost of the improvements and pay a total of $23,701.84, $14,132.25 in attorneys’ fees, $1,332.87 in costs, and $8,236.72 in damages.

On July, 14, 2020, Plaintiff filed this motion to amend the default judgment entered against Defendant on the grounds that the costs incurred by Plaintiff in repairing Defendant’s unit exceeded the amount awarded by the Court.

II. LEGAL STANDARD AND DISCUSSION

The court may, upon any terms as may be just, relieve a party or his or her legal representative from a judgment, dismissal, order, or other proceeding taken against him or her through his or her mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect. (Code Civ. Proc., § 473(b).)

Here, Plaintiff seeks to amend the Court’s March 13, 2019 default judgment entered against Defendant to allow Plaintiff to recover additional costs incurred in repairing Defendant’s condominium. Plaintiff states that the condition inside Defendant’s unit was far worse than Plaintiff expected. In addition to the anticipated extensive cleaning and repeated fumigation, Plaintiff’s contractors had to tear the unit down to the studs because of the severity of the pest infestation and leaking shower pan. The shower pan had been leaking since at least June 2018 resulting in mold growth in the flooring and walls. The drywall, ceiling, and much of the floor had to be torn up to conduct mold remediation. Two neighboring units also had to be fumigated because of the roach infestation and one underwent mold remediation as well. Asbestos and lead testing was conducted in both the unit and a neighboring unit. Large portions of the unit’s electrical system were replaced because of water damage and/or mold growth. The total cost of the fumigations and repairs was $109,772.93. (Hofmann declaration, exhibit A.) Therefore, Plaintiff seeks to amend the judgment to allow for recovery of the difference between the repair amount allocated, $50,000, and the actual cost, $109,772.93, or, an additional $59,772.93.

The Court’s judgment states “[s]hould the actual cost of said work exceed $50,000, Plaintiff may apply to this Court to modify the Judgment accordingly . . . .” To effectuate justice, the Court will allow modification of the judgment against Defendant to conform to the actual cost of reparations.

III. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s motion to amend judgment is GRANTED.

Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of the Court’s ruling.

DATED: September 29, 2020

_____________________

Hon. Theresa M. Traber

Judge of the Superior Court

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - NORTHWEST DISTRICT

NEWCASTLE MANOR HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, a California non-profit mutual benefit corporation,

Plaintiff,

vs.

JOEL OSTROFF, an individual; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive,

Defendants.

)

)

)

)

)

)

)

)

)

)

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)

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS

Dept. U

8:30 a.m.

September 29, 2020

I. BACKGROUND

On February 7, 2018, Newcastle Manor Homeowners Association (Plaintiff) filed a complaint against Joel Ostroff (Defendant) and Does 1 through 50, alleging claims for: (1) breach of contract/CC&Rs; (2) preliminary and permanent injunction; (3) negligence; (4) nuisance; and (5) declaratory relief.

Defendant never appeared or answered.  Default judgment was entered against Defendant on March 19, 2019. The Court found that Defendant failed to maintain his condominium in conformity with Plaintiff’s CC&Rs and prevented Plaintiff from making the necessary improvements to bring the unit into compliance. The Court ordered Defendant to vacate the unit in order to allow Plaintiff to make the necessary improvements to bring the unit into compliance. Defendant was ordered to reimburse Plaintiff for the cost of the improvements and pay a total of $23,701.84, $14,132.25 in attorneys’ fees, $1,332.87 in costs, and $8,236.72 in damages.

On July 13, 2020, Plaintiff filed this motion for attorneys’ fees incurred in enforcing the judgment against Defendant.

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II. LEGAL STANDARD

The party claiming attorneys’ fees must establish entitlement to such fees and the reasonableness of the fees claimed. (Civic Western Corporation v. Zila Industries, Inc. (1977) 66 Cal.App.3d 1, 16.) “Except as attorney’s fees are specifically provided for by statute, the measure and mode of compensation of attorneys and counselors at law is left to the agreement, express or implied, of the parties.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 1021.)

“It is well established that the determination of what constitutes reasonable attorney fees is committed to the discretion of the trial court, whose decision cannot be reversed in the absence of an abuse of discretion.” (Melnyk v. Robledo (1976) 64 Cal.App.3d 618, 623.) In exercising its discretion, the court should consider a number of factors, including the nature of the litigation, its difficulty, the amount involved, the skill required in handling the matter, the attention given, the success or failure, and the resulting judgment. (Ibid.)  

In determining the proper amount of fees to award, courts use the lodestar method. The lodestar figure is calculated by multiplying the total number of reasonable hours expended by the reasonable hourly rate. “Fundamental to its determination . . . is a careful compilation of the time spent and reasonable hourly compensation of each attorney . . .  in the presentation of the case.”  (Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 48 (Serrano III).)  A reasonable hourly rate must reflect the skill and experience of the attorney. (Id. at 49.) “Prevailing parties are compensated for hours reasonably spent on fee-related issues. A fee request that appears unreasonably inflated is a special circumstance permitting the trial court to reduce the award or deny one altogether.” (Serrano v. Unruh (1982) 32 Cal.3d 621, 635 (Serrano IV); Weber v. Langholz (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 1578, 1587 (“The trial court could make its own evaluation of the reasonable worth of the work done in light of the nature of the case, and of the credibility of counsel’s declaration unsubstantiated by time records and billing statements.”).)

Reasonable attorney fees should be based on an objective standard of reasonableness, i.e., the market value of services rendered, not on some notion of cost incurred. (PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1090.) The value of legal services performed in a case is a matter in which the trial court has its own expertise. (Id. at 1096.) The trial court may make its own determination of the value of the services contrary to, or without the necessity for, expert testimony. (Ibid.) The trial court makes its determination after consideration of a number of factors, including the nature of the litigation, its difficulty, the amount involved, the skill required in its handling, the skill employed, the attention given, the success or failure, and other circumstances in the case. (Ibid.)

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff claims an additional $20,542.16 in attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in enforcing the default judgment against Defendant. Plaintiff claims Defendant refused to comply with the Court’s order to vacate his unit, thereby, causing Plaintiff to incur additional costs, including attorneys’ fees. Plaintiff was forced to apply for an order to show cause regarding Defendant’s contempt. At the August 16, 2019 order to show cause hearing, the Court issued a bench warrant for Defendant and set bail at $15,000. Defendant finally vacated his unit to allow for repairs after learning of the bench warrant. Defendant’s continual refusal to comply with the Court’s order has caused Plaintiff additional expenses.

Article XXIII of Plaintiff’s CC&Rs provides:

Each and every covenant, condition, restriction and easement herein contained and in the By-Law, Articles of Incorporation and rules and regulations shall be for the benefit of any and all persons who now own or who may hereafter own any portion of the Project, and such persons are specifically given the right to enforce the same at law or in equity, and upon the filing of any action to enforce the same, judgment may be given for attorneys’ fees against the party found to be in breach in favor of the party seeking enforcement.

Plaintiff cites Dean Gardenhome Assn. v. Denktas (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 1394, 1395, for the proposition that Courts have consistently recognized that attorneys’ fees provisions in covenants, conditions, and restrictions constitute a contract between a homeowner and the association for purposes of determining whether the prevailing party in an action is entitled to attorney’s fees.

Here, the source of entitlement to attorneys’ fees is the provision in the Plaintiff’s CC&Rs. On March 19, 2019, the Court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. The Court entered a default judgment against Defendant finding that he was in breach of the CC&Rs. Plaintiff has had to take further judicial action to enforce the default judgment against Defendant. Therefore, as the prevailing party in this action and, because Plaintiff was forced to turn to the Court to enforce its judgment, Plaintiff is entitled to attorneys’ fees under the CC&Rs.

Plaintiff’s counsel, Eugene Rubinstein (Rubenstein), declares that Plaintiff has incurred $20,542.16, $18,696.50 in attorneys’ fees and $1,845.66 in costs, in enforcing the default judgment against Defendant. Attached as Exhibit D to Rubenstein’s declaration is spreadsheet detailing his firm’s billing activity for Plaintiff. The charges are from March 31, 2019 through June 24, 2020. Time is billed for communicating with the Plaintiff and Defendant’s attorney, reviewing health department inspections, drafting this motion, the motion to amend judgment, the ex parte application, and order to show cause regarding Defendant’s contempt, and appearing for the contempt hearing. Plaintiff was also billed for the costs of electronic filing, shipping and service charges, mileage, parking, and postage. It is evident that Rubenstein expended many hours helping Plaintiff enforce the default judgment against Defendant and that great care was employed.  The Court finds that the number of hours spent on post-judgment enforcement tasks is reasonable.

The chart provided by Rubenstein reflects an hourly rate of $345.  Based on his admission to practice in 1996, the Court concludes that this hourly rate is reasonable given his more than 20 years of practice. 

Based on its findings that the hourly rate and hours expended in post-judgment enforcement are reasonable, the Court approves the total amount of fees of $18,696.50 as reasonably expended.  Having reviewed the costs spent, the Court also approves the recovery of $1,845.66 in costs. 

IV. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees and costs is GRANTED.  Defendant is ordered to pay a total of $20,542.16 to reimburse Plaintiff for the attorneys’ fees and costs reasonable spent in post-judgment enforcement activities.  These fees are to be paid within 30 days of this order.

Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of the Court’s ruling.

DATED: September 29, 2020

_____________________

Hon. Theresa M. Traber

Judge of the Superior Court

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