This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 12/27/2020 at 16:20:26 (UTC).

SKYLIGHT ADVISORS LLC VS ZEPHYR INVESTMENT COMPANY LLC

Case Summary

On 10/25/2017 SKYLIGHT ADVISORS LLC filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against ZEPHYR INVESTMENT COMPANY LLC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Glendale Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are LAURA A. MATZ, C. EDWARD SIMPSON, CURTIS A. KIN and WILLIAM D. STEWART. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7515

  • Filing Date:

    10/25/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Glendale Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

LAURA A. MATZ

C. EDWARD SIMPSON

CURTIS A. KIN

WILLIAM D. STEWART

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs, Cross Defendants and Appellants

SKYLIGHT ADVISORS LLC

SKYLIGHT ADVISORS LLC A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Cross Defendants and Appellants

MOGHIM KAZEM

SKYLIGHT ADVISORS LLC A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Defendants, Cross Defendants and Cross Plaintiffs

ZEPHYR INVESTMENT COMPANY LLC

BERENY JOSHUA

ZEPHYR INVESTMENT COMPANY LLC A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Defendant, Respondent and Cross Plaintiff

ZEPHYR INVESTMENT COMPANY LLC A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Defendants, Cross Defendants and Appellants

BERENY JOSHUA

MAGHIM KAZEM

URBINO CONSTRUCTION

MOGHIM KAZEM

SKYLIGHT ADVISORS LLC A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

STARS ENERGY CORPORATION ROOFING AND SOLAR SYSTEMS A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

Not Classified By Court

TTS STUDIOS INC. A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant, Plaintiff, Cross Defendant and Cross Plaintiff Attorneys

LU ROBERT K

LU ROBERT K.

TAMER STEVEN

LESOWITZ SCOTT MICHAEL

Defendant, Cross Plaintiff and Cross Defendant Attorneys

GREENBERG TRAURIG

TRAURIG GREENBERG

ROWEN ERIC VICTOR

NEIGHBORS MICHAEL SLADE

LU ROBERT K

Not Classified By Court Attorney

KIM OLIVIA

 

Court Documents

Substitution of Attorney

12/24/2020: Substitution of Attorney

Declaration - DECLARATION OF ALEX LINHARDT IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT AND CROSSCOMPLAINANT ZEPHYR INVESTMENT COMPANY LLCS MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS FEES

12/14/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION OF ALEX LINHARDT IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT AND CROSSCOMPLAINANT ZEPHYR INVESTMENT COMPANY LLCS MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS FEES

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 12/07/2020

12/7/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 12/07/2020

Reply - REPLY REPLY IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND REQUEST FOR SUPPLEMENTAL ATTORNEYS' FEES

5/15/2020: Reply - REPLY REPLY IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND REQUEST FOR SUPPLEMENTAL ATTORNEYS' FEES

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

5/7/2020: Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103

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

4/21/2020: Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103

Writ - Return

3/27/2020: Writ - Return

Abstract of Judgment - Civil and Small Claims

3/9/2020: Abstract of Judgment - Civil and Small Claims

Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION TO COMPEL DEPOSITION OF CROSS-DEFENDANT'S PERSON MOST QUALIFIED

11/6/2019: Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION TO COMPEL DEPOSITION OF CROSS-DEFENDANT'S PERSON MOST QUALIFIED

Judgment - JUDGMENT [PROPOSED] AS TO THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT

11/1/2019: Judgment - JUDGMENT [PROPOSED] AS TO THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT

Opposition - OPPOSITION OF PLAINTIFF SKYLIGHT ADVISORS TO MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION BY DEFENDANTS

10/3/2019: Opposition - OPPOSITION OF PLAINTIFF SKYLIGHT ADVISORS TO MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION BY DEFENDANTS

Notice of Related Case

6/5/2019: Notice of Related Case

Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Opposition

7/23/2018: Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Opposition

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

8/16/2018: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Proof-Service/Summons

11/28/2017: Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Proof-Service/Summons

Case Management Statement

3/14/2018: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

10/24/2018: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement -

9/17/2018: Case Management Statement -

248 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 03/12/2021
  • Hearing03/12/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department E at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees

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  • 03/12/2021
  • Hearing03/12/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department E at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees

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  • 01/08/2021
  • Hearing01/08/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department E at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment (CCP 473)

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  • 01/08/2021
  • Hearing01/08/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department E at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment (CCP 473)

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  • 12/24/2020
  • DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by URBINO CONSTRUCTION (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 12/24/2020
  • DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by URBINO CONSTRUCTION (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 12/24/2020
  • DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by Skylight Advisors LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/24/2020
  • DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by Skylight Advisors LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/24/2020
  • DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by KAZEM MOGHIM (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 12/24/2020
  • DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by KAZEM MOGHIM (Cross-Defendant)

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714 More Docket Entries
  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference

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  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference

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  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketNotice (of Order to Show Cause re: failure to comply with trial court delay reduction act); Filed by Zephyr Investment Company LLC, a California limited liability company (Defendant)

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  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketNotice (of Order to Show Cause re: failure to comply with trial court delay reduction act); Filed by Zephyr Investment Company LLC, a California limited liability company (Defendant)

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  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketComplaint Fld - No Summons Issued

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  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketComplaint Fld - No Summons Issued

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  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketNotice (of case assignment); Filed by Zephyr Investment Company LLC, a California limited liability company (Defendant)

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  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketNotice (of case assignment); Filed by Zephyr Investment Company LLC, a California limited liability company (Defendant)

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  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketComplaint ( (1st)); Filed by Skylight Advisors LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/25/2017
  • DocketComplaint ( (1st)); Filed by Skylight Advisors LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: EC067515    Hearing Date: March 12, 2021    Dept: E

MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES ON APPEAL

[Civil Code § 1717]

Date: 3/12/21 (8:30 AM)

Case: Skylight Advisors LLC v. Zephyr Investment Co. LLC, et al. (EC067515)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant/cross-complainant Zephyr Investment Company LLC’s UNOPPOSED Motion for Attorneys’ Fees on Appeal is GRANTED IN PART.

Defendant/cross-complainant Zephyr Investment Company LLC (“Zephyr”) seeks $16,505.50 in attorney fees incurred in defending against the appeal of the February 10, 2020 judgment by plaintiff/cross-defendant Skylight Advisors LLC (“Skylight”) and cross-defendant Kazem Moghim. (Linhardt Decl. ¶ 6 & Ex. 5.) This amount consists of (1) $12,490.50 incurred between February 19, 2020, the date of service of the notice of appeal, and November 4, 2020, the date of issuance of the remittitur and (2) $4,015.00 associated with this motion for attorney fees. (Linhardt Decl. ¶¶ 15, 17 & Ex. 14.)

The Court finds that Zephyr is the prevailing party in the appeal. The matter arose out of a written Lease Agreement between Zephyr and Skylight and out of a written Guaranty of Lease between Zephyr and Moghim. Both agreements provide that the prevailing party shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees. (Linhardt Decl. ¶¶ 2, 3 & Exs. 1, 2.) Further, the remittitur issued on November 4, 2020 stated that “Respondents,” i.e. Zephyr, are to recover costs on appeal. (Linhardt Decl. ¶ 13 & Ex. 12.) Costs includes attorney fees when authorized by contract, statute, or law. (CCP § 1033.5(a)(10).) Under the terms of the attorney fee provisions, Zephyr may recover the fees that it incurred to defend against the appeal.

The Court finds that the hourly rates charged by defense counsel in this action are reasonable. (Linhardt Decl. ¶¶ 20-24.)

The Court has reviewed the billing entries from Zephyr’s counsel and finds that there have been some excessive billings by Zephyr’s attorneys for certain matters (Linhardt Decl. ¶ 16 & Ex. 14.) Accordingly, the Court makes the following reductions:

· Between April 22, 2020 and May 5, 2020, Kristin K. McCarthy, Esq. spent 5.0 hours reviewing Skylight and Moghim’s Notice Designating Record on Appeal and preparing a Counter-Designating Record on Appeal. Michael Neighbors, Esq. spent 2.4 hours on the same project. McCarthy’s hours are reduced by 1 hour, which, based on an hourly rate of $515, amounts to a reduction of $515. Neighbors’ hours are reduced by 1 hour, which, based on an hourly rate of $565, amounts to a reduction of $565.

· On July 3, 5, and 8, 2020, Neighbors billed a total of 4.8 hours for preparing the opposition to Skylight and Moghim’s Motion to Vacate Dismissal. The opposition was two pages and appears not to have required any legal research, as only the Safer at Home order issued by the City of Los Angeles was cited. (Linhardt Decl. ¶ 10 & Ex. 9.) Accordingly, Neighbors’ hours for preparation of the opposition are reduced by 2.8 hours, which, based on Neighbors’ hourly rate of $565, results in a reduction of $1,582. Correspondingly, McCarthy’s hours billed on July 9, 2020 to revise the opposition are reduced from 0.4 hours to 0.2 hours. Based on McCarthy’s hourly rate of $515.00, a 0.2-hour reduction amounts to a reduction of $103. Similarly, Alex Linhardt, Esq.’s hours billed on July 9, 2020 to revise the opposition are reduced from 0.7 hours to 0.3 hours. Based on Linhardt’s hourly rate of $730, a 0.4-hour reduction amounts to a reduction of $292.

· Linhardt’s hours billed on September 14, 2020 in preparing a Notice of Appearance in the Court of Appeal are reduced from 0.5 hours to 0.2 hours. Based on Linhardt’s hourly rate of $730, a 0.3-hour reduction results in a reduction of $219.

Based on the foregoing, Zephyr’s request for $12,490.50 in fees for defending against the appeal are reduced by $3,276.00 to $9,214.50.

Zephyr also seeks $4,015 for fees incurred in connection with this fee motion, based on 4.5 hours reviewing the appellate record and drafting the motion and declaration and 1 hour attending the hearing. (Linhardt Decl. ¶ 17; Graham v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. (2004) 34

Cal.4th 553, 580 [“It is well established that plaintiffs and their attorneys may recover attorney

fees for fee-related matters”].) The Court finds that a reasonable number of hours for the fee motion and hearing is 4 hours total. At an hourly billing rate of$730 for Lindhardt, the Court finds that Zephyr’s recovery of so-called fees on fees should be thus limited to $2,920.00.

Accordingly, using the appropriate lodestar approach, and based on the foregoing findings and in

view of the totality of the circumstances, the Court finds that the total and reasonable amount of

attorney fees incurred for the work performed in connection with Zephyr Investment

Company LLC’s defense against the appeal of the February 10, 2020 judgment filed by plaintiff/cross-defendant Skylight Advisors LLC and cross-defendant Kazem Moghim is $12,134.50, out of $16,505.50 requested. Such fees are awarded to defendant/cross-complaint Zephyr Investment Company LLC against plaintiff/cross-defendant Skylight Advisors LLC and cross-defendant Kazem Moghim, jointly and severally.

Case Number: EC067515    Hearing Date: January 08, 2021    Dept: E

MOTION TO VACATE ORDER OR JUDGMENT AWARDING COSTS OR ATTORNEYS’ FEES

[CCP §§ 657, 659, 663]

Date: 1/8/21 (8:30 AM)

Case: Skylight Advisors LLC v. Zephyr Investment Company LLC, et al. (EC067515)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff and Cross-Defendant Skylight Advisors LLC and Cross-Defendants Urbino Construction Inc. and Kazem Moghim’s Motion to Vacate Order or Judgment Awarding Costs or Attorneys’ Fees is DENIED.

On October 2, 2020, the Court awarded $553,539.85 in attorney fees to defendant/cross-complainant Zephyr Investment Company LLC (“Zephyr”), to be paid by plaintiff/cross-defendant Skylight Advisors LLC and cross-defendant Kazem Moghim (collectively, “Skylight”), jointly and severally. On November 6, 2020, the Court entered a judgment, which includes the award of fees to Zephyr.

Skylight now seeks to vacate the award of attorney fees contained in the November 6, 2020 judgment, conceding that it did not properly assert the newly raised basis for relief in the instant motion until after the Court rendered its decision and entered judgment thereon. (See Lewowitz Decl. ¶ 5 [“I did not notice until November 2020 . . .”]; Mot. at 6-7 [“Unfortunately, Counsel for the Skylight Parties did not notice prior to the hearing . . .”]; Reply at 6 [“[T]he Skylight Parties may not have pointed out this specific discrepancy prior to October 2, 2020 . . .”].) In the instant motion, Skylight contends that the invoices submitted in support of Zephyr’s motion for attorney fees stated that the total due for legal services provided up to December 31, 2019 was $437,086.94, contrary to the $509,532.00 Zephyr initially sought in its fee motion. (2/28/20 Neighbors Decl. ¶ 57 & Ex. 48.) In awarding fees, the Court noted that Zephyr appropriately did not seek recovery of fees from the separate unlawful detainer action, which were reflected in dark gray highlights in the invoices submitted with Zephyr’s motion. (10/2/20 Minute Order at 4.) Skylight, however, for the first time now contends that the $437,086.94 included a total of $158,072 in highlighted dark gray billing entries. (Lesowitz Decl. ¶ 4.)

Skylight thus argues that the actual amount of fees incurred up to December 31, 2019 was $279,014.94, which is the difference between the $437,086.94 total for pre-2020 billing asserted by Zephyr and the total $158,072 in fees reflected in dark gray highlighted billing entries. Accordingly, Skylight seeks an amendment of the award to $323,022.79, consisting of the sum of $279,014.94 with the highlighted billing entries excluded and the $87,653.90 awarded for the post-attorney fee motion briefing (see 10/2/20 Minute Order at 1), minus the $43,646.05 in billing entries the Court found to be unnecessary and excessive (see 10/2/20 Minute Order at 5).

Insofar as Skylight seeks its post-judgment relief under the provisions of CCP § 657 for a new trial, the Court finds that none of the grounds under CCP § 657 apply here. CCP § 657 states, in relevant part, that relief may be granted for any of the following causes materially affecting the substantial rights of the moving party:

1. Irregularity in the proceedings of the court, jury or adverse party, or any order of the court or abuse of discretion by which either party was prevented from having a fair trial.

2. Misconduct of the jury; and whenever any one or more of the jurors have been induced to assent to any general or special verdict, or to a finding on any question submitted to them by the court, by a resort to the determination of chance, such misconduct may be proved by the affidavit of any one of the jurors.

3. Accident or surprise, which ordinary prudence could not have guarded against.

4. Newly discovered evidence, material for the party making the application, which he could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at the trial.

5. Excessive or inadequate damages.

6. Insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict or other decision, or the verdict or other decision is against law.

7. Error in law, occurring at the trial and excepted to by the party making the application.

CCP § 657(2) does not apply, because the underlying judgment was reached after a bench trial and a decision by the Court on Zephyr’s motion for attorney fees. CCP §§ 657(3) and (4) do not apply, because the billing records upon which Skylight could have discovered the purported discrepancy were included in the moving papers filed on February 28, 2020. CCP § 657(5) does not apply, because Skylight disputes the award of attorney’s fees, not the underlying damages award. CCP § 657(7) does not apply, because Skylight argues factual error in that the amount of attorney fees awarded to Zephyr is purportedly not supported by its billing records.

With respect to CCP § 657(1), Skylight fails to show an irregularity in the proceedings of the Court or an order of the Court that prevented Skylight from having a fair trial. “An ‘irregularity in the proceedings’ is a catchall phrase referring to any act that (1) violates the right of a party to a fair trial and (2) which a party ‘cannot fully present by exceptions taken during the progress of the trial, and which must therefore appear by affidavits.’” (Montoya v. Barragan (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1215, 1229–30 [quoting Gay v. Torrance (1904) 145 Cal. 144, 149].) Here, as stated with respect to CCP § 657(3) and (4), Skylight had the opportunity to fully examine the December 2019 invoice and raise any purported discrepancy in its oppositions to Zephyr’s fee request.

Moreover, the Court notes Skylight was afforded more opportunity than is typical to oppose Zephyr’s motion for attorney fees. On May 11, 2020, Skylight filed its initial 14-page opposition to the motion. On August 13, 2020, after the matter was fully briefed and two weeks before the motion was originally scheduled to be heard, Skylight filed an ex parte application seeking to continue the motion hearing on the ground that Skylight hired additional counsel, who had retained the services of an “attorney fee expert . . . to review the extensive billing which was submitted with the motion for attorney fees.” (8/13/20 Mot. to Continue Def’s Mtn. for Attorney Fees; 8/13/20 Tamer Decl. ¶ 3.) Over Zephyr’s objection, the Court continued the hearing and set a briefing schedule to permit Skylight to submit a supplemental opposition. (8/14/20 Minute Order.) With yet additional hired counsel, Skylight filed a supplemental 18-page opposition, along with a 166-page filing in support thereof, which included the 23-page declaration of attorney fee expert Grant D. Stiefel and his several expert reports. (9/9/20 Supp. Opp.; Stiefel Decl. & Exs. D, E, F, G, H & I.) Notably, Stiefel stated he was one of only “a handful of full-time attorney experts is the United States” working in this “highly-specialized niche in the legal profession.” (Stiefel Decl. ¶ 4.) In rendering his highly-specialized opinion in support of Skylight’s opposition, Stiefel specifically indicated he reviewed the declaration of Zephyr’s counsel and all invoices and billing records submitted therewith, stating explicitly that he “personally reviewed each of the nearly 1,000 individual line-item billing entries that comprise [Zephyr]’s fee request.” (Stiefel Decl. ¶¶ 14.e, 27.) Having done so, Stiefel identified numerous errors, problems, and issues he found with respect to Zephyr’s fee request, including inflated hourly rates, inappropriate redactions in billing records, block billing, “unnecessary and non-compensable work,” and “excessive time” spent on matters—all of which led to his conclusion that Zephyr should receive fees no greater than $224,441.96. (Stiefel Decl. ¶¶ 18-48.) In advance of the hearing on Zephyr’s motion, the Court issued a detailed, 7-page tentative ruling addressing all issues raised in Skylight’s two opposition briefs and the Stiefel Declaration. Before making a final ruling, at the October 2, 2020 hearing, the Court entertained substantial oral argument from Skylight, which was represented at the hearing by three separate counsel. (10/2/20 Minute Order.) Based on all the foregoing, the Court cannot find Skylight was denied a “fair trial” or, in this case, a fair hearing on the motion for attorney fees.

With respect to CCP § 657(6), the record before this Court is sufficient to support the conclusion that the $437,086.94 for “Total Amount Due” (emphasis added), as reflected in the December 2019 invoice, accounts for payments Zephyr made to its counsel prior to the generation of the invoices. As an example, in the April 2018 invoice, the Total Amount Due, which included a previous balance, was $36,606.76. (Neighbors Decl. ¶ 37 & Ex. 28.) However, the May 2018 invoice reflected a Total Amount Due of $30,876.41, with no previous balance. (Neighbors Decl. ¶ 38 & Ex. 29.) These changing amounts in the total amount due are consistent with the invoices accounting for payments Zephyr made to its counsel. As a further example, the December 2019 invoice reflects a Total Amount Due of $437,086.94, with a previous balance of $355,525.53. (Neighbors Decl. ¶ 57 & Ex. 48.) However, the November 2019 invoice reflects a Total Amount Due of $365,732.74, which suggests Zephyr paid its counsel $10,207.21 between the generation of the November and December 2019 invoices. (Neighbors Decl. ¶ 56 & Ex. 47.)

Because it can reasonably be inferred from the invoices that the figures for “Total Amount Due” reflected payments received and thus do not reflect all fees incurred, the Court could credit Zephyr’s assertion in its moving papers that it incurred $509,532.00 as of the filing of the fee motion based on the invoices. (Neighbors Decl. ¶¶ 31-57 & Exs. 22-48; Lindhardt Decl. ¶ 2 [“Defendants filed their fee motion on February 28, 2020. In the motion, Defendants sought $509,532.00 in fees incurred from October 2017 (the month that they retained Greenberg Traurig in this matter) through December 2019 (the most recent month for which fees were billed at the time). The invoices for these fees are attached to the declaration of Michael S. Neighbors in support of the fee motion as Exhibits 22-48.)”] Likewise, the Court was entitled to credit Zephyr’s assertion that its fee request did not include billing entries for the unlawful detainer action highlighted in dark gray. (Neighbors Decl. ¶¶ 31-57.) It was Skylight’s obligation to point out such purported discrepancies, which it did not. Consequently, Skylight can hardly be heard to complain now about Zephyr’s evidence of payments to counsel when it never raised the issue and afforded Zephyr the opportunity to respond or supplement the record further. (See Etcheson v. FCA US LLC (2018) 30 Cal.App.5th 831, 848 [“[G]eneral arguments that fees claimed are excessive, duplicative, or unrelated do not suffice”].) In any event, the record is sufficient to support the fee award such that a new trial should not be granted. (See CCP § 657 [“A new trial shall not be granted upon the ground of insufficiency of the evidence to justify the . . . decision . . . unless after weighing the evidence the court is convinced from the entire record, including reasonable inferences therefrom, that the court . . . clearly should have reached a different . . . decision”].)

For the first time in its Reply, Skylight argues that the Court also has the power to modify the judgment under CCP § 662. However, Skylight did not cite this statute in its notice of motion or points and authorities. (See 11/23/20 Notice of Motion; 11/30/20 Mtn.) Further, the Court can only modify the judgment if it finds grounds to order a new trial. (See CCP § 662 [“In ruling on such motion [for new trial], in a cause tried without a jury, the court may . . . modify the judgment, in whole or in part, vacate the judgment, in whole or in part, and grant a new trial on all or part of the issues . . . .”].) For the reasons stated above, Skylight fails to state grounds for a new trial.

Skylight also moves to vacate the judgment under CCP § 663. Although the statute does not require new facts or evidence, the judgment can only be vacated here if there was an “[i]ncorrect or erroneous legal basis for the decision, not consistent with or not supported by the facts.” “A motion to vacate under section 663 is a remedy to be used when a trial court draws incorrect conclusions of law or renders an erroneous judgment on the basis of uncontroverted evidence.” (Simac Design, Inc. v. Alciati (1979) 92 Cal.App.3d 146, 153.) Here, the parties disagree on how the billing records Zephyr presented in its moving papers should be interpreted. Skylight maintains that the invoices do not support fees of $509,532.00 because the “Total Amount Due” in the December 2019 invoice was $437,086.94. Zephyr explains that the balance on the December 2019 invoice is net of payments that Zephyr made prior to the generation of the invoice and therefore, the invoices still support a fee request of $509,532.00 in the moving papers. Based on this dispute, the evidence is not “uncontroverted,” and relief under CCP § 663 is not appropriate.

Skylight also argues that the filing of a malicious prosecution action, Zephyr Investment Company, LLC v. Skylight Advisors, LLC et al., Case No. 20STCV39640, warrants a stay of the attorney fee award. Skylight points to an allegation in the malicious prosecution complaint mentioning the reduction of $43,646.05 to Zephyr’s request for attorney fees that the Court found to be excessive. (Lesowitz Decl. ¶ 6 & Ex. B, ¶ 29.) According to Skylight, this allegation somehow reopens the issue of the reasonableness of the attorney fee award in this case, even though Zephyr does not pray for recovery of the fee reduction or assert the Court’s ruling was in error. Although this Court has deemed the malicious prosecution action related to this breach of lease agreement action for case management purposes, the actions have not been consolidated. The proceedings in the malicious prosecution action are separate from and do not affect the judgment in this breach of lease agreement action. Skylight cites no authority for its assertion that a separate malicious prosecution action reopens the judgment in an underlying action such that the award of attorney fees should be vacated.

Skylight also points to two lawsuits titled Zephyr Investment Company LLC v. Kazem Moghim et al., Case Nos. 19STCV42992 and 20STCV25582, in which Zephyr alleges that Skylight and/or its manager, Kazem Moghim, fraudulently conveyed real property to shell entities to hinder collection on Skylight’s debts to Zephyr. (Lesowitz Decl. ¶¶ 7, 8 & Exs. C, D.) Skylight fails to cite any applicable authority to support the proposition that a fee award should be vacated when an unrelated action has been commenced.

Skylight also argues that the fees should be reduced or eliminated on equitable grounds. Skylight points to new evidence purportedly showing that someone at Zephyr posted the lease agreement with Moghim’s Social Security number. (Lesowitz Decl. ¶¶ 12-18; see generally Miholovich Decl.; Hyman Decl.) Skylight also argues that its former counsel, Greenberg Traurig, LLP is breaching a fiduciary duty owed to Moghim, because the firm previously represented Moghim with respect to real property that is the subject of one of Zephyr’s fraudulent conveyance actions against Moghim. (See generally Moghim Decl.; Lesowitz Decl. ¶¶ 9, 10 & Exs. E, F.) Greenberg Traurig is purportedly assisting Zephyr’s collection counsel to collect against its former client with respect to such property. (Motion at 9-10, fn. 1.) The Court expresses no opinion on whether the breach of fiduciary issue, other than to conclude that such issue is not relevant to the instant matter concerning attorney fees in this action and may be addressed, if at all, in the other action giving rise to the purported breach.

The Court also declines to modify a final fee award based on Skylight’s assertion that Zephyr failed to return its security deposit. (Moghim Decl. ¶ 3.) The issue of whether Zephyr has withheld the security deposit is not properly before this Court. Moreover, while a wrongfully withheld deposit might be the basis for an offset against Zephyr’s collection of its fee award, it does not provide a basis for this Court to reduce the amount of fees Zephyr should be awarded as reasonably incurred.

Skylight also argues that the award of $9,637.32 in costs should be vacated because the memorandum of costs was not served on Skylight’s counsel. (Motion at 5-6.) Skylight notes that the memorandum of costs attached to the Notice of Proposed Amended Judgment as Exhibit C did not contain a proof of service. The memorandum of costs was filed on February 28, 2020. A proof of service was attached, which stated that Robert K. Lu, Esq. was served on behalf of Skylight. Lu was counsel for Skylight at the time. Accordingly, the memorandum of costs was properly served.

The motion for order vacating the award for attorney fees and costs is DENIED.***********************************************************************************************************************************************************

MOTION TO TAX COSTS

[CCP § 685.070(c)]

Date: 1/8/21 (8:30 AM)

Case Number: Skylight Advisors v. Zephyr Investment Company, et al. (EC067515)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff and Cross-Defendant Skylight Advisors LLC and Cross-Defendants Urbino Construction Inc. and Kazem Moghim’s (collectively “Skylight”) Motion to Tax Costs is GRANTED.

In its November 30, 2020 motion papers, Skylight made two requests for relief: (1) to vacate the attorney’s fee award and Amended Judgment, entered November 6, 2020; and (2) to tax costs claimed in the Memorandum of Costs After Judgment, filed November 12, 2020. However, Skylight only paid one $60 motion fee for what should have been two separately filed motions with separate $60 filing fees.  Within two (2) court days from this ruling, Skylight shall pay an additional $60 fee to the Clerk of the Court.  Failure to do so will result in the Court deeming Skylight’s motion to tax costs as having not been made and Zephyr’s November 12, 2020 Memorandum of Costs unopposed.

CCP § 685.040 and the attorney fee provision in the lease agreement between Zephyr, Skylight, and Moghim provide for Zephyr to recover attorney fees incurred in enforcing the judgment. CCP § 685.070(b) allows Zephyr to file a memorandum of costs after judgment “[b]efore the judgment is fully satisfied but not later than two years after the costs have been incurred.” Here, judgment on the Cross-Complaint was entered on February 10, 2020, awarding Zephyr damages of $142,234.50. On November 6, 2020, an amended judgment awarding Zephyr attorney’s fees of $553,539.85 was entered.

On November 12, 2020, Zephyr filed a memorandum of costs after judgment claiming $48,366.15 in attorney fees under CCP § 685.040. While Skylight paid $149,618.26 to satisfy the damages portion of the judgment, it is undisputed that Skylight has not satisfied the entire judgment. It has also been less than two years since the judgment or the amended judgment have been entered. Accordingly, Zephyr’s memorandum of costs after judgment is timely filed.

Zephyr claims $19,397 in hourly fees and $29,923.65 in contingency fees for a total of $49,320.65. Zephyr confirms that it is willing to accept the lesser amount of $48,366.15. (Opposition at 16, fn. 1.)

In support of its request, Zephyr submits the declaration of Michael A. Wallin, Esq., counsel Zephyr hired to collect on the judgment in June 2020. (Wallin Decl. ¶¶ 5, 7.)  Wallin’s declaration describes efforts to collect on the judgment, including drafting subpoenas on entities allegedly owned by Moghim, preparing for debtor examinations, researching debtors’ purported assets, and filing fraudulent conveyance actions. (Wallin Decl. ¶¶ 10-12.) However, Wallin’s declaration also describes work in connection with other cases, namely, fraudulent conveyance matters in other departments of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.  CCP § 685.040 allows Zephyr to recover attorney fees incurred in collecting on the judgment, which theoretically could include fees incurred in litigating other actions to recover on the judgment. Further, although the damages portion of the judgment has been satisfied, the attorneys’ fee award, which is also part of the judgment, has not been satisfied.  Under CCP § 685.040, Zephyr might be entitled to recover fees reasonably incurred to obtain full satisfaction of the judgment, even if such fees were incurred in connection with separately filed fraudulent conveyance actions before other courts.

However, under CCP § 685.070(c), the Court has discretion to disallow costs “to the extent justified under the circumstances of the case.”  Without prejudice to Zephyr seeking its judgment collection costs when warranted under future circumstances, the Court GRANTS Skylight’s motion to tax costs requested in the November 12, 2020 Memorandum of Costs for the reasons that follow.

Zephyr’s current request for attorney fees appears to seek a double recovery.  Counsel seeks $19,397 in fees for hourly attorney work, charging hourly rates ranging from $125 to $195, which appear to be reasonable. (Wallin Decl. ¶ 18.) However, in addition, Zephyr seeks to recover a fee award based on the 20% contingency fee charged by its counsel, totaling $29,923.65. (Wallin Decl. ¶ 8.) Contingency fees may not reflect the reasonable value of counsel’s services. (All-West Design, Inc. v. Boozer (1986) 183 Cal.App.3d 1212, 1227.) Zephyr does not justify why it is entitled to both hourly fees and contingency fees.  Nor does Zephyr provide any basis for the Court to conclude that the requested total fees of over $48,000 otherwise account for the reasonable cost or value of the collection efforts.

The Court also questions whether Zephyr should be able to recover for fees incurred after August 18, 2020, which is the date on which Skylight satisfied the damages portion of the judgment. Zephyr was not awarded any attorney fees until October 2, 2020, and the Amended Judgment incorporating these attorney fees was not entered until November 6, 2020. It is unclear why Zephyr should be awarded fees for services provided between August 18, 2020 and October 2, 2020 (or perhaps November 6, 2020) to collect unknown fees Skylight had no obligation to pay. 

Relatedly, the Court notes that Zephyr filed its memorandum of costs after judgment on November 12, 2020, only six days after the amended judgment was entered and three days after the notice of the entry of judgment was mailed to the parties.  Under such circumstances, the Court questions whether any fees incurred between October 2, 2020 and November 12, 2020 were due to reasonable efforts to collect given that Skylight’s obligation to pay attorney fees had only arisen on October 2, 2020.

The Court also questions whether Zephyr can recover for fees solely incurred in the litigation of the pending fraudulent conveyance actions. A number of billing entries by Wallin & Russell LLP clearly arose only in connection with those separately filed actions, including:

Date

Attorney

Description

Hours

Rate

Total

7/3/2020

Michael Wallin

Drafted complaint re 5814 La Mirada Avenue. Reviewed documents re same.

0.9

$195

7/16/2020

Michael Wallin

Drafted lis pendens re APN 2190-004-028.

0.4

$195

9/1/2020

Michael Wallin

Drafted opposition to Moghim's motion to expunge lis pendens re 2157 Mount Olympus.

4.6

$195

9/15/2020

Michael Wallin

Drafted Requests for Admission to Sunset Horizon LLC.

0.9

$195

11/10/2020

Justin Wolf

Started preparation of written discovery (Form Interrogatories and Requests for Admission) for both UVTA cases

3.8

$175

Zephyr makes an insufficient that the prosecution of those separate actions should be viewed as collection efforts on the judgment obtained in this matter.

Further, the merit of Zephyr’s contention that Skylight and Moghim fraudulently conveyed real properties to shell entities to avoid collection has yet to be determined. Without final resolution of the fraudulent conveyance actions, it would seem the reasonableness of the value of legal services reflected in billing entries solely dedicated to those separate actions cannot be determined.  Further still, even if Zephyr were ultimately to prevail in one or both of the fraudulent conveyance actions, its attorneys’ fees expended in connection with any such action can only be recovered once—either in the fraudulent conveyance action as a prevailing party entitled to fees, on the one hand, or in this action as an effort to collect on the judgment, on the other hand.  The Court questions where such fees may more appropriately be sought, particularly as the court presiding over the fraudulent conveyance action may generally be in a better position to evaluate the value and reasonableness of the attorneys’ work before it.

Accordingly, Skylight’s Motion to Tax Costs is GRANTED, but without prejudice to Zephyr seeking the costs asserted in the November 12, 2020 memorandum of costs after judgment at a later date within the time allowed under CCP § 685.070(b).

Case Number: EC067515    Hearing Date: October 02, 2020    Dept: E

MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES

[CCP §1033.5(c)(5), Civil Code § 1717]

Date: 10/2/20 (2:00 PM)

Case: Skylight Advisors v. Zephyr Investment Co., et al. (EC067515)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant/cross-complainant Zephyr Investment Company LLC and defendant Joshua Bereny’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees is GRANTED IN PART.

As of the date of this hearing, defendant/cross-complainant Zephyr Investment Company LLC (“Zephyr”) and defendant Joshua Bereny (“Bereny”) (collectively “defendants”) seek $597,185.90 in attorney fees incurred in defense of the Third Amended Complaint and in prosecution of the Cross-Complaint. (10/1/20 Linhardt Decl. ¶ 6.) This amount consists of $509,532 sought in defendants’ initial fee motion, $50,906 sought in defendants’ reply, $32,732.90 requested in defendants’ supplemental reply brief, and $4,015 in opposition to the ex parte application relating to the fee motion. (See 10/1/20 Linhardt Decl. ¶¶ 2-5.)

As an initial matter, the Court finds that plaintiff/cross-defendant Skylight Advisors LLC (“Skylight”) and cross-defendant Kazem Moghim (collectively “Skylight”) had adequate notice that defendants were seeking attorney fees against them. The notice of motion states that it is based on all papers and pleadings on file, which includes the points and authorities and the proposed order. The motion and the supporting papers indicate that the request for attorney fees is against Skylight Advisors LLC and Moghim, jointly and severally. (Mot. at 1 & fn. 1 [“Kazem Moghim is jointly and severally liable for any fees awarded.”]; Proposed Order at 2 [defendants seek fees against “Plaintiff and Cross-Defendant Skylight Advisors LLC and Cross-Defendant Kazem Moghim,” jointly and severally].) The motion also notes that the lease containing the attorney fee provision at issue here was between Zephyr Investment Company LLC, as the landlord, and Skylight Advisors LLC, as the lessee. (Mot. at 1; Neighbors Decl. ¶ 2 & Ex. 1 at ¶ 1.1.) The motion also details Skylight Advisors LLC’s intransigence in refusing to comply with the terms of the lease and engaging in a “war of attrition” during the litigation. (Mot. at 2-6.) Based on the totality of the moving papers, both Skylight Advisors LLC and Moghim had adequate notice that defendants seek attorney fees against them.

The Court finds that defendants are the prevailing parties in the action. The matter arose out of a written Lease Agreement between Zephyr and plaintiff/cross-defendant Skylight Advisors LLC and out of a written Guaranty of Lease between Zephyr and cross-defendant Kazem Moghim. Both agreements provide that the prevailing party shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees. (Neighbors Decl. ¶¶ 2, 3 & Exs. 1, 2.) The Court notes, however, that Bereny signed the agreements in his capacity as Zephyr’s manager. Accordingly, Bereny is not individually entitled to attorney fees. “Someone who is not a party to the contract has no standing to enforce the contract or to recover extra-contract damages for wrongful withholding of benefits to the contracting party.” (Hatchwell v. Blue Shield of California (1988) 198 Cal.App.3d 1027, 1034.)

Skylight argues that the request for attorney fees exceeds the amount allowed under the fee schedule set forth in Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rule 3.214. That may be true, but Local Rule 3.214 also provides the Court with discretion to award greater fees than allowed under the fee schedule. (Cruz v. Ayromloo (2007) 155 Cal.App.4th 1270, 1276 [“[T]he trial court permissibly departed from the guidelines [in the fee schedule] and based its fee award on the ‘lodestar’ method of calculating attorneys' fees . . . . [T]he trial court awarded fees consistent with Civil Code section 1717. Civil Code section 1717 permitted the trial court to award ‘reasonable’ attorneys' fees incurred ‘in connection with” the lease at issue in this case.’”].) Moreover, the attorney fee provisions for both agreements at issue state explicitly that the fee award “shall not be computed in accordance with any court fee schedule.” (Neighbors Decl. ¶¶ 2, 3 & Exs. 1 [¶ 31], 2.)

In addition, the Court’s determination of reasonable attorney fees is not impacted by whether defendants’ counsel has received fees from defendants as of yet or whether some other party (e.g., Bereny Enterprises LLC) may be footing defense counsel’s bill. (West Coast Development v. Reed (1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 693, 707 [“[T]he fact that a fee was not paid is no evidence that it has not been earned and that the client is not obligated to pay it.”]; International Billing Services, Inc. v. Emigh (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 1175, 1192 [“Here, the [prevailing parties] became liable to pay the fee even if they were not the source of payment the attorney agreed to look to first. Therefore they incurred the fees and, by virtue of the reciprocity provision of [Civil Code] section 1717, they are entitled to an award of fees”] [emphasis in original].)

In evaluating defendants’ fee request, the Court also finds that the declarations of Michael S. Neighbors in support of the motion and reply are admissible. Counsel has a basis to set forth the number of years of experience each attorney has and the position the attorney or paralegal holds at the firm (e.g. Shareholder or Of Counsel), which the Court finds useful in evaluating the reasonableness of the claimed hourly rates. (Neighbors Motion Decl. ¶¶ 23-30.) The Court also finds that Counsel is qualified to authenticate the invoices from his firm, which are attached to the declaration. “A trial judge has broad discretion in admitting business records under Evidence Code section 1271, and it has been held that the foundation requirements may be inferred from the circumstances.” (People v. Dorsey (1974) 43 Cal.App.3d 953, 961.) Indeed, the invoices themselves indicate they pertain to the “Skylight Advisors Lease Dispute” and the dates and descriptions of work therein logically correspond to this action. (Neighbors Decl. ¶¶ 31-57 & Exs. 31-48.) Notably, even Skylight’s expert presumes the invoices to be authentic business records when analyzing their substance.

Based on the record before it, notwithstanding what any hourly rate survey or matrix may indicate, the Court in its discretion finds that the hourly rates charged by defense counsel in this action are reasonable. (Syers Properties III, Inc. v. Rankin (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 691, 702.) The Court notes that the hourly rates charged by defense counsel are in line with customary rates of a large global law firm with expertise in complex commercial real estate litigation and that, consistent with the relatively less complex nature of the instant litigation, defense counsel leanly staffed the matter with relatively junior associates at lower billing rates. (See 2/28/20 Neighbors Decl. ¶¶ 22-30; 5/15/20 Neighbors Decl. ¶¶ 5-6; see also 9/22/20 Linhardt Decl. ¶¶ 11-16, 18.) This approach was entirely appropriate and reasonable under the circumstances.

As for whether Zephyr’s claimed billing entries are reasonable, as an initial matter, the Court notes: “When confronted with hundreds of pages of legal bills, trial courts are not required to identify each charge they find to be reasonable or unreasonable, necessary or unnecessary . . . . A reduced award might be fully justified by a general observation that an attorney overlitigated a case or submitted a padded bill or that the opposing party has stated valid objections.” (Gorman v. Tassajara Development Corp. (2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 44, 101.) With respect to Skylight’s various challenges to the reasonableness of the billing entries, the Court makes the following findings:

Defendants do not seek fees incurred in the prosecution of the prior unlawful detainer action. (Mot. at 7 & fn. 3.) Defendants highlighted in dark gray the entries for which they were not seeking fees, including the unlawful detainer matters. (Neighbors Decl. ¶¶ 31-57 & Exs. 22-48.) As for work in connection with a notice to cure-or-quit in May 2018 and a notice to pay-or-quit in June 2018, those notices formed the basis for the ejectment and breach of contract causes of action in the Cross-Complaint in this action.

Defendants are correct that arbitration of this action was not required due to the presence of third parties (including defendant Bereny and cross-defendants Urbino Construction Inc. and Stars Energy Corporation Roofing and Solar Systems) who were not signatories to the lease containing the arbitration provision. (Neighbors Decl. ¶ 16 & Ex. 15.) Accordingly, Zephyr was entitled to oppose the motion to compel arbitration and, as the prevailing party, now collect fees for opposing that motion and litigating this action thereafter. Further, because Zephyr’s claims against Urbino and Stars Energy were intertwined with the claims against Skylight and Moghim, the Court declines to apportion the fees as between the cross-defendants.

Defendants are entitled to redact entries that contained privileged information. (Hartford Casualty Ins. Co. v. J.R. Marketing, L.L.C. (2015) 61 Cal.4th 988, 1005–06 [“If privileged information on these subjects is included in counsel's billing records, it can be redacted for purposes of assessing whether counsel's bills are reasonable”].) The redactions highlighted by Skylight’s expert do not prevent the Court from determining whether the billing was incurred in this matter and whether such billing was reasonable. (Stiefel Decl. ¶¶ 31, 38 & Exs. D, F.) Many phone calls, conferences, and emails, the contents of which are protected by attorney-client privilege, are to be expected in a heavily litigated action like this one.

The purportedly block billed entries generally contain sufficient detail for the Court to evaluate their reasonableness. (Opposition at 10-11; Stiefel Decl. ¶¶ 37, 38 & Exs. E, F) They generally appear reasonable and necessary to the successful resolution of the case. The Court thus finds no basis or reason to apply any across-the-board reductions for block billing or redacted entries.

Zephyr is entitled to fees for post-reply briefing. (Graham v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. (2004) 34 Cal.4th 553, 580 [“It is well established that plaintiffs and their attorneys may recover attorney fees for fee-related matters”].) Skylight and Moghim were on notice that they may be liable for fees they caused defendants to incur after the reply was filed, including by the filing of a supplemental opposition and ex parte application to fix the amount of bond to stay enforcement on appeal. (Reply at 5.)

The Court agrees with Skylight that there have been some unnecessary and excessive billings by defendants’ attorneys for certain matters (Stiefel Decl. ¶¶ 42, 44 & Exs. G, H), and the Court accordingly makes the following reductions:

· Preparation for and finalization of the Case Management Statement was a task that should have taken no more than three hours of an associate attorney’s time (3 hours x $330 = $990). The $2,147.50 claimed for this task should be reduced by $1,157.50

· Defendants’ successful motion for summary judgment involved the fairly straightforward application of principles of estoppel and res judicata. Accordingly, the Court finds the 82.50 hours devoted to this task excessive and will reduce the claim of $39,078.50 for this work by $9,000 (20 hours x $450).

· Preparation of a form Memorandum of Costs is a task that should have taken no more than four hours of an associate attorney’s time (4 hours x $450 = $1,800). The $4,449.50 claimed for this task should be reduced by $2,649.50

· The claimed 11.60 hours for work on an ex parte application to continue trial and motion dates to which Skylight stipulated was excessive. Applying a 50% reduction to the $5,360.50 claimed, the amount should be reduced by $2,680.25

· The claimed 50.70 hours spent on the motion for judgment on the pleadings based on lack of specificity and collateral estoppel was excessive. Applying a 30% reduction to the $17,596 claimed, the amount should be reduced by $5,278.80

· The relatively short ex parte application to compel the continued deposition of Skylight’s PMK should have taken no more than six hours to prepare (6 hours x $450 = $2,700). The claimed $5,580 should accordingly be reduced by $2,880

· In connection with the instant fee motion, it appears defense counsel has billed upwards of $55,000 in connection therewith. (See 5/15/20 Neighbors Decl. ¶ 7 & Ex. 49; 9/22/20 Linhardt Decl. ¶ 7; 10/1/20 Linhardt Decl. ¶¶ 4-5). While the Court recognizes Skylight’s opposition has contributed to such costs, the Court finds the hours spent on this matter excessive (particularly the nearly $40,000 in fees generated in connection with the initial motion papers) and will reduce the claimed amount by $20,000.

For the reasons set forth above, the Court will reduce the amount of fees by $43,646.05. Other than those specific matters identified and discussed above, the Court finds defense counsel’s billing entries were reasonable and necessary. Thus, the Court does not find any further reduction is warranted. In so concluding, the Court notes that, to the extent defendants may have worked on matters that were not used at trial or were denied, defendants were entitled to pursue these legal theories and recover the fees incurred. (Greene v. Dillingham Construction, N.A., Inc. (2002) 101 Cal.App.4th 418, 424, quoting Sokolow v. County of San Mateo (1989) 213 Cal.App.3d 231, 250 [“Attorneys generally must pursue all available legal avenues and theories in pursuit of their clients' objectives; it is impossible, as a practical matter, for an attorney to know in advance whether or not his or her work on a potentially meritorious legal theory will ultimately prevail.”].)

In the supplemental opposition, Skylight also states that defendants and their counsel failed to redact Moghim’s Social Security number in the Cross-Complaint and proposed judgment, which purportedly led to the theft of Moghim’s identity. (Moghim Decl. ¶¶ 3-8.) While the Court has discretion to reduce the lodestar amount based on equitable principles, the Court does not exercise such discretion here. (EnPalm, LLC v. Teitler (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 770, 774, 778 [“[T] he trial court's use of equitable considerations to reduce the lodestar amount of appellants' attorney fees because most of those fees were unnecessary was proper under both PLCM and Graham”].) Other than speculation, Skylight has no evidence that any of the Zephyr parties posted the “Ripoff Report,” where a copy of the cross-complaint containing the guarantee with Moghim’s unredacted Social Security number was posted, or that the Ripoff Report led to any purported identity theft.

Accordingly, using the appropriate lodestar approach, and based on the foregoing findings and in view of the totality of the circumstances, the Court finds that the total and reasonable amount of attorney’s fees and costs incurred for the work performed in connection with Zephyr Investment Company LLC’s defense against the Third Amended Complaint and prosecution of the Cross-Complaint against Skylight Advisors LLC is $553,539.85, out of $597,185.90 requested. Such fees are awarded to defendant/cross-complaint Zephyr Investment Company LLC against plaintiff/cross-defendant Skylight Advisors LLC and cross-defendant Kazem Moghim, jointly and severally.

Plaintiff/cross-defendant Skylight Advisors LLC and cross/defendants Urbino Construction Inc., and Kazem Moghim’s Ex Parte Application for an Order (1) Striking the Declaration of Alex Linhardt, (2) Continuing the Hearing on the Motion for Attorneys' Fees, (3) Allowing for Fee-related Discovery, (4) Allowing the Filing a Response, and (5) Filing of Satisfaction of Judgment is DENIED.

In the ex parte application, Skylight seeks a continuance of this motion based on the filing of the declaration of Alex Linhardt in support of the supplemental reply. Skylight contends that the Linhardt declaration contains new facts concerning the experience of the attorneys who worked on this matter, which could have been provided in the moving papers. As discussed above, the Neighbors declarations contain the necessary information for the Court to evaluate the reasonableness of the hourly rates. Accordingly, the supplemental (and consistent) information in the Linhardt declaration was not necessary to the Court’s decision. With respect to the objection that the Linhardt declaration lacks foundation concerning the invoicing practices of counsel, the Court finds that the Linhardt declaration is admissible for the same reasons as the Neighbors declarations. With respect to Skylight’s request to conduct discovery regarding the reasonableness of the billing entries, the Court believes Skylight has had ample opportunity to dispute the reasonableness of the fee request, including by submitting an expert declaration. The Court thus finds that additional discovery is unwarranted to evaluate or oppose defendants’ fee request.

With respect to the request for a satisfaction of judgment, the Court inquires from defendants whether they have received the check Moghim claims he served. (Moghim Ex Parte Decl. ¶ 2 & Ex. 1.)

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