This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/15/2022 at 09:59:16 (UTC).

SANDRA BERNAL VS ARCONIC VALLEY ET AL

Case Summary

On 09/14/2018 SANDRA BERNAL filed a Labor - Other Labor lawsuit against ARCONIC VALLEY. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are ELIZABETH ALLEN WHITE, SUSAN BRYANT-DEASON, ARMEN TAMZARIAN, GREGORY W. ALARCON and WENDY CHANG. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****1408

  • Filing Date:

    09/14/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Labor - Other Labor

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

ELIZABETH ALLEN WHITE

SUSAN BRYANT-DEASON

ARMEN TAMZARIAN

GREGORY W. ALARCON

WENDY CHANG

 

Party Details

Petitioner, Plaintiff and Respondent

BERNAL SANDRA

Respondents, Defendants and Appellants

ARCONIC VALLEY-TODECO INC.

ARCONIC INC.

CALDERAS MARIA

DOES 1 THROUGH 10

ALLAHYARIAN ANTONIO

SARKISSIAN ARMEN

BERNAL SANDRA

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Petitioner and Plaintiff Attorneys

HULL ANN A. ESQ.

SCHWARTZ JEFFREY MARC

HULL ANN A.

ADAMSKY LAWRENCE P.

DAVIS JEFFREY ROBERT

Defendant Attorneys

RIAZ JIBRAUN BIN

WANG LORRAINE

PETROFSKY MELISSA ANN

RIAZ JIBRAUN

LECRONE JOHN PRESCOTT

 

Court Documents

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: DISMISSAL (SETTLEMENT))

4/25/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: DISMISSAL (SETTLEMENT))

Notice of Continuance - NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF HEARING

3/3/2022: Notice of Continuance - NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF HEARING

Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF CASE REASSIGNMENT

2/9/2022: Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF CASE REASSIGNMENT

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

2/16/2022: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Appeal - Notice Court Reporter to Prepare Appeal Transcript

2/18/2022: Appeal - Notice Court Reporter to Prepare Appeal Transcript

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: DISMISSAL (SETTLEMENT))

1/28/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: DISMISSAL (SETTLEMENT))

Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103

11/8/2021: Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103

Appeal - Notice of Default Issued

1/6/2022: Appeal - Notice of Default Issued

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

1/25/2022: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Appeal - Notice of Appeal/Cross Appeal Filed

10/27/2021: Appeal - Notice of Appeal/Cross Appeal Filed

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore - ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE AS TO CESAR RODRIGUEZ, #13296

10/29/2021: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore - ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE AS TO CESAR RODRIGUEZ, #13296

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: DISMISSAL (SETTLEMENT))

10/29/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: DISMISSAL (SETTLEMENT))

Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103

11/8/2021: Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103

Appeal - Notice of Filing of Notice of Appeal

11/15/2021: Appeal - Notice of Filing of Notice of Appeal

Notice of Ruling

9/16/2021: Notice of Ruling

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES)

8/31/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES)

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore - ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE AS TO CESAR RODRIGUEZ, #13269

8/31/2021: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore - ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE AS TO CESAR RODRIGUEZ, #13269

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (RULING ON SUBMITTED MATTER)

9/1/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (RULING ON SUBMITTED MATTER)

124 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 01/25/2023
  • Hearing01/25/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 36 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Status of Appeal

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  • 04/26/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 36; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal (Settlement) - Not Held - Rescheduled by Court

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  • 04/25/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 36, Wendy Chang, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal (Settlement) - Held - Continued

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  • 04/25/2022
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal (Settlement))); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/15/2022
  • DocketAppeal Record Delivered; Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/03/2022
  • DocketNotice of Continuance (Of Hearing); Filed by Sandra Bernal (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/18/2022
  • DocketAppeal - Notice Court Reporter to Prepare Appeal Transcript; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/16/2022
  • DocketNotice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/09/2022
  • DocketNotice (Notice of Case Reassignment); Filed by Sandra Bernal (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/28/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 36, Gregory W. Alarcon, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal (Settlement) - Held - Continued

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167 More Docket Entries
  • 10/04/2018
  • DocketNotice of Status Conference filed; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/01/2018
  • Docketat 00:00 AM in Department 48; (Affidavit of Prejudice; Case is reassigned) -

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  • 10/01/2018
  • DocketMinute Order

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  • 10/01/2018
  • DocketMinute order entered: 2018-10-01 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

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  • 09/26/2018
  • DocketPEREMPTORY CHALLENGE TO JUDICIAL OFFICER

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  • 09/26/2018
  • DocketChallenge To Judicial Officer - Peremptory (170.6); Filed by Sandra Bernal (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/14/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Sandra Bernal (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/14/2018
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE ASSIGNMENT UNLIMITED CIVIL CASE - IC

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  • 09/14/2018
  • DocketJURY TRIAL DEMANDED ETC....

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  • 09/14/2018
  • DocketSUMMONS

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: ****1408    Hearing Date: July 01, 2020    Dept: 36

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 36

SANDRA BERNAL,

Plaintiff,

ARCONIC VALLEY-TODECO, INC., et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: ****1408

Hearing Date: 7/1/2020

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE: Plaintiff’s Motion to Continue Trial; Plaintiff’s Motion to Continue Hearing on Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment

Plaintiff’s Motion to Continue Hearing on Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is moot.

Plaintiff’s Motion to Continue Trial and Final Status Conference to August 27, 2020.

Each party may file a supplemental declaration within ten days of this order.

Relevant Law

“To ensure the prompt disposition of civil cases, the dates assigned for a trial are firm. All parties and their counsel must regard the date set for trial as certain.” (CRC Rule 3.1332(a).) Trial continuances may be granted only on an affirmative showing of good cause. (CRC Rule 3.1332(c); Thurman v. Bayshore Transit Mgmt., Inc. (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 1112, 1127.)

Good cause may be shown by the grounds stated under CRC Rule 3.1332(c). In assessing a motion for continuance, the court considers all the facts and circumstances relevant to the determination, which may include those listed under CRC Rule 3.1332(d).) (Id. at (d).)

The court on any party’s motion may grant leave to reopen discovery after a new trial date has been set. (CCP ; 2024.050(a).) Such motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration. (Id.)

Discussion

On March 18, 2020, the Court continued the hearings on Plaintiff’s two motions to continue the hearing on Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgement, and to continue Jury Trial and the Final Status Conference in this action, along with related statutory and discovery deadlines, each to April 28, 2020. (See Minute Orders of March 18, 2020.) On April 15, 2020, this Court continued the hearings on each motion to July 1, 2020. (Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order, April 15, 2020.) This court additionally reset the Final Status Conference in this matter for October 13, 2020, and Jury Trial for October 20, 2020. (Id.)

The current date for jury trial, October 20, 2020, is significantly later than Plaintiff’s original request to continue jury trial to a date in late August, 2020. As such, Plaintiff’s requests to continue the dates for Jury Trial and the Final Status Conference are themselves moot.

The only issue remaining is thus whether good cause exists for continuance of discovery deadlines in this matter. As noted by Defendants, continuance of trial does not operate to reopen discovery proceedings. (CCP ; 2024.020(b).) The court on a party’s motion may grant leave to reopen discovery after a new trial date has been set. (CCP ; 2024.050(a).) Such motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration. (Id.) The court considers any matter relevant to the leave to reopen discovery, including the factors under Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2024.050(b). (Id. at (b).)

Plaintiff’s motion attests that the parties met and conferred in Department 26 prior to filing Plaintiff’s motion. (Motion, Hull Decl., ¶ 7.)

Plaintiff files a Declaration of Plaintiff’s counsel, Ann Hull, in the Reply to Defendants’ Opposition. “The general rule of motion practice . . . is that new evidence is not permitted with reply papers.” (Jay v. Mahaffey (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 1522, 1537.) However, in light of the sequence of proceedings in this case, the court exercises its discretion and will consider the inclusion of Plaintiff’s evidence included in the Reply Declaration. (See id. at 1538.) Defendant may file a supplemental declaration in response to the evidence included in this declaration within ten days of the date of this Order. (See id.Alliant Ins. Services, Inc. v. Gaddy (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 1292, 1308.) Based on the evidence currently before it, the court will consider reopening discovery requested by Plaintiff.

However, considering the factors under Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2024.050, subdivision (b), it is not clear at this point whether all previously scheduled depositions have now been completed. As provided by Plaintiff’s evidence, depositions were scheduled to be completed by March 13, 2020. (See Reply, Hull Decl. ¶¶ 51-54.) Defendants attest that the parties agreed to deposition dates for all three individual defendants for the week of March 9, 2020, and March 16, 2020. (Riaz Decl., ¶ 15.) As such, it is not clear to what date reopened discovery is presently needed. (CCP ; 2024.050(b)(1).)

Next, on the evidence presently before it, the court is not inclined to find counsel  Plaintiffs lacked diligence seeking discovery. Starting after Counsel for Defendants completed Notices of Acknowledgement and Receipt for Defendants on May 12 or 13, 2019, Counsel for Plaintiff has provided meet and confer letters regarding depositions and a site inspection dated May 16, 2019, July 25, 2019, and September 6, 2019 (Reply, Hull Decl. ¶¶ 20, 24, 25, Exhs. 5-7); attestation to telephonic meet-and-confer on November 12, 2019 including discussion on the site inspection and depositions (Id. ¶¶ 39-40); a Deposition Notice for several deponents dated November 29, 2019 (Id. ¶ 42, Exh. 11); a meet and confer letter dated January 16, 2020 (Id. ¶ 45, Exh. 12); the parties’ stipulation to continue trial and related discovery cut-off dates dated January 17, 2020 (Id. ¶ 46, Exh. 13); ongoing scheduling emails for deponents last sent on February 3, 2020 (Id. ¶¶ 47-54, Exh. 14); and Notice of Deposition of the Person Most Knowledgeable dated January 22, 2020 (Id. ¶ 52, Exh. 15). (CCP ; 2024.050(b)(2).)

Dated: ____________________________

Gregory Alarcon

Superior Court Judge


Case Number: ****1408 Hearing Date: August 31, 2021 Dept: 36

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 36

SANDRA BERNAL,

Plaintiff,

v.

ARCONIC VALLEY-TODECO, INC., et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: ****1408

Hearing Date: 8/31/2021

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE: Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs

The motion is granted in part as to attorney’s fees in the lodestar sum of $228,972.50 and costs of $9,786.84.

Notice

Following the ex parte application to continue this motion for failure to provide sufficient notice under Code of Civil Procedure, section 1005(b), the opposition and reply were timely filed and served. (CCP ; 1005(b).)

Page Limit

Initially, Defendants oppose on grounds that Plaintiff’s motion exceeds the 15-page limit. (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1113(g).) The moving papers exceed the page limit seemingly due in large part to insertion of a three-page graph, which could have otherwise been included as an exhibit. The court does not deny the motion on these grounds.

Discussion

Plaintiff moves for attorney’s fees in the lodestar amount of $228,972.50, and seeks a multiplier of 2, totaling attorney’s fees of $457,945.00; plus costs of $9,786.84. Defendant has opposed. Plaintiff has replied.

1. Timeliness

California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1702(b)(1) provides in pertinent part:

A notice of motion to claim attorney's fees for services up to and including the rendition of judgment in the trial court . . . must be served and filed within the time for filing a notice of appeal under rules 8.104 and 8.108 in an unlimited civil case . . . .

The deadline is mandatory. (Community Youth Athletic Center v. City of National City (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1385, 1444.) California Rules of Court, Rule 8.104(a)(1) provides that a notice of appeal must be filed on or before the earliest of:

(A) 60 days after the superior court clerk serves on the party filing the notice of appeal a document entitled “Notice of Entry” of judgment or a filed-endorsed copy of the judgment, showing the date either was served;

(B) 60 days after the party filing the notice of appeal serves or is served by a party with a document entitled “Notice of Entry” of judgment or a filed-endorsed copy of the judgment, accompanied by proof of service; or

(C) 180 days after entry of judgment.

An order of dismissal has not yet been entered in this action. However, Plaintiff does not seek fees beyond March 24, 2021, as provided on the Section 998 Offer to Compromise and there is no objection to the motion as untimely. The court thus proceeds to the merits.

2. Entitlement to Attorney’s Fees / Prevailing Party

Attorneys’ fees are recoverable as costs under Code of Civil Procedure section 1032 when authorized by statute. (Code Civ. Proc. ; 1033.5(a)(l0)(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, except that, notwithstanding Section 998 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a prevailing defendant shall not be awarded fees and costs unless the court finds the action was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless when brought, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so.” (Govt. Code, ; 12965(b).)

Plaintiff alleges, and Defendant does not dispute, Plaintiff’s entitlement in general to attorney’s fees pursuant to Government Code section 12965. The Section 998 Offer to Compromise likewise offers “Payment of statutory costs, including attorneys’ fees, reasonably incurred by Plaintiff as of the date of this offer as determined by the Court according to proof.” The parties do not dispute Plaintiff’s status as a prevailing party. The court thus accepts the argument that Plaintiff is the prevailing party in the action and entitled to an award of attorney’s fees and costs.

3. Reasonableness of Attorney’s Fees

The moving party bears the burden of proof on any claim not based upon the court’s established attorney fee schedule. (CCP ; 1033.5(c)(5).)

Plaintiff seeks the following hours and hourly rates for Plaintiff’s counsel as a lodestar:

Admitted to CA Bar

Rate

Hours

Amount Sought

Daniel I. Barness

1982

$750/hour

6.4 hours

$4,800

Ann A. Hull

2007

$525/hour

348 hours

$180,960

Jeffrey M. Schwartz

2007

$525/hour

22.5 hours

$11,812.50

Rachel Savoian

2011

$500/hour

51.6 hours

$25,800.00

Hannah Robinson

2015

$400/hour

14 hours

$5,600

Total

$228,972.50

Plaintiff also seeks a lodestar multiplier of two, totaling attorney’s fees of $457,945.00.

Generally, “a court assessing attorney fees begins with a touchstone or lodestar figure, based on the “careful compilation of the time spent and reasonable hourly compensation of each attorney ... involved in the presentation of the case.” (Ketchum, supra, at 1131-32.) A reasonable hourly rate must reflect the skill and experience of the attorney. (See Serrano v. Priest, 20 Cal.3d 25, 48 (1977).) The court reviews documentation of hours expended; “padding” in the form of inefficient or duplicative efforts is not subject to compensation.” (See Ketchum, supra, at p. 1132.) “To the extent a trial court is concerned that a particular award is excessive, it has broad discretion to adjust the fee downward or deny an unreasonable fee altogether.” (Ketchum, supra, at 1138.)

A. Hourly Rate

The “reasonable hourly rate is that prevailing in the community for similar work.” (PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095, as modified (June 2, 2000).) Parties may substantiate the reasonableness of counsel’s hourly rate by declaration that the rate is in line with that prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation. (Davis v. City of San Diego (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 893, 903.)

Defendants do not dispute the hourly rates of Plaintiff’s counsel. Plaintiff has provided support of the reasonableness of hourly rates through the declarations of Charles Schoemaker Jr. and Ernest A. Buongiorno. The foregoing supports the reasonableness of counsel’s rates. The court finds the hourly rates requested are reasonable. (See Morris v. Hyundai Motor America (2019) 41 Cal.App.5th 24, 41, as modified (Oct. 11, 2019), review denied (Jan. 2, 2020).)

B. Hours Requested

Defendants oppose that the hours claimed are unreasonable under nine separate arguments.

Plaintiff’s counsel has provided declarations and hourly billing, which provides prima facie evidence the costs, expenses and services listed were necessarily incurred. (See Hadley v. Krepel (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 677, 682.)

Defendants’ arguments seeking to reduce attorney work hours are each denied.

The court does not reduce hours on grounds in concluding that Plaintiff’s counsel made a fraudulent statement on April 14 or 19, 2021 as to the anticipated attorney’s fees, which is based on hearsay evidence and not applied to arguments of reasonableness.

The court does not reduce hours on grounds that counsel should have earlier accepted settlement offers or that counsel’s initial settlement demands were unreasonable; evidence of a Section 998 offer from earlier in the litigation is not before the court, and there is an insufficient showing of defective representation, nor sufficient evidence before the court that Plaintiff’s counsel did not give attention to the case.

The court does not reduce hours on grounds that counsel cannot recover fees for litigating claims against individual defendants on the same claims as those alleged against the corporate defendants; there is no showing that litigation on those same claims were not expended in pursuit of the ultimate result achieved as claims unrelated to successful claims. (See Chavez v. City of Los Angeles (2010) 47 Cal.4th 970, 989-90; Hensley v. Eckerhart (1983) 461 U.S. 424, 434-35.)

The court does not reduce hours for trial hours incurred for trial preparation in March 2021, as at that point trial was set to proceed. The court does not find that the hours charged for filing ex parte motions were duplicative on the evidence before the court.

Defendants’ argument that time entries were block-billed and vague is denied. “Trial courts retain discretion to penalize block billing when the practice prevents them from discerning which tasks are compensable and which are not.” (Heritage Pacific Financial, LLC v. Monroy (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 972.) The court has reviewed the entries and does not find fees requested for noncompensable tasks related to this action supported by Defendants’ evidence. (See generally Riaz Decl. ¶ 29, Exh. 14 (exhibit purporting to strike block billed entries).)

C. Lodestar Multiplier

A lodestar “may be adjusted by the court based on factors including, as relevant herein, (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, (4) the contingent nature of the fee award.” (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1132.) “The purpose of such adjustment is to fix a fee at the fair market value for the particular action.” (Id.) “In effect, the court determines, retrospectively, whether the litigation involved a contingent risk or required extraordinary legal skill justifying augmentation of the unadorned lodestar in order to approximate the fair market rate for such services.” (Id.)

The court declines to apply a lodestar multiplier. There is insufficient showing of the novelty and difficulty of issues involved in this litigation based primarily on the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or evidence in support of other factors such as the preclusion of other employment beyond conclusory statements in the declaration of Counsel Ann Hull. (See generally Hull Decl. ¶¶ 22-23.) Next, the action under the FEHA created a reasonable expectation of attorney’s fees despite the contingent nature of the award, unlike cases in which contingent cases are taken with an uncertainty whether fees would be awarded even if the Plaintiff prevailed. (See Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 1128, 1175, as modified on denial of reh'g (June 2, 1998).)

4. Costs and Expenses

Plaintiffs request costs and expenses of $9,786.84. The costs requested are reasonable, no authority brought that any are unrecoverable under Code of Civil Procedure, section 1033.5, and are thus approved.

Dated: ____________________________

Gregory Alarcon

Superior Court Judge


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