This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/15/2019 at 10:17:08 (UTC).

VANDALYN CRAYTON VS KIA MOTORS AMERICA INC

Case Summary

On 05/03/2018 a Contract - Other Contract case was filed by VANDALYN CRAYTON against KIA MOTORS AMERICA INC in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****4949

  • Filing Date:

    05/03/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

RANDOLPH M. HAMMOCK

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

CRAYTON VANDALYN

Respondents and Defendants

DOES 1 TO 20

KIA MOTORS AMERICA INC.

 

Court Documents

PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

5/11/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

5/23/2018: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

6/5/2018: DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

ANSWER TO COMPLAINT

6/5/2018: ANSWER TO COMPLAINT

NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

7/19/2018: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

7/19/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

7/23/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

CIVIL DEPOSIT

7/23/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT

NOTICE OF JURY FEE DEPOSIT

7/23/2018: NOTICE OF JURY FEE DEPOSIT

CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

8/2/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

Minute Order

8/2/2018: Minute Order

Notice of Change of Firm Name

10/12/2018: Notice of Change of Firm Name

Stipulation and Order

12/12/2018: Stipulation and Order

Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

4/2/2019: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

Offer to Compromise and Acceptance Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 998

6/13/2019: Offer to Compromise and Acceptance Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 998

Minute Order

6/21/2019: Minute Order

SUMMONS

5/3/2018: SUMMONS

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. BREACH OF IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY UNDER THE SONG-BEVERLY WARRANTY ACT. ;ETC

5/3/2018: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. BREACH OF IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY UNDER THE SONG-BEVERLY WARRANTY ACT. ;ETC

6 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 10/23/2019
  • Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 47 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal (Settlement)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/29/2019
  • Docketat 09:30 AM in Department 47, Randolph M. Hammock, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/23/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 47, Randolph M. Hammock, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/21/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 47, Randolph M. Hammock, Presiding; Post-Mediation Status Conference - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/21/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Post-Mediation Status Conference)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/13/2019
  • DocketOffer to Compromise and Acceptance Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 998; Filed by Vandalyn Crayton (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/02/2019
  • DocketNotice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information; Filed by Nita Law Firm (Attorney)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 12/12/2018
  • DocketStipulation and Order (and Protective Order)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/12/2018
  • DocketNotice of Change of Firm Name; Filed by KIA Motors America, Inc. (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/02/2018
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 47; Case Management Conference - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
15 More Docket Entries
  • 06/05/2018
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by KIA Motors America, Inc. (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/05/2018
  • DocketANSWER TO COMPLAINT

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/05/2018
  • DocketDEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/23/2018
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/23/2018
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/11/2018
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/11/2018
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Vandalyn Crayton (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/03/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Vandalyn Crayton (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/03/2018
  • DocketSUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/03/2018
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. BREACH OF IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY UNDER THE SONG-BEVERLY WARRANTY ACT. ;ETC

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC704949    Hearing Date: November 18, 2019    Dept: 47

Vandalyn Crayton v. Kia Motors America, Inc., et al.

 

MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES, COSTS AND EXPENSES

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Vandalyn Crayton

RESPONDING PARTY(S): Defendant Kia Motors America, Inc.

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS AND/OR PROCEEDINGS:

This was a Song-Beverly Act case, in which Plaintiff alleged that she purchased a new 2013 Kia Forte that was defective.

The parties settled, and Plaintiff moves for an award of attorney’s fees, costs and expenses.

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff Vandalyn Crayton’s motion for attorney’s fees, costs and expenses is GRANTED in the amount of $10,000 in attorney’s fees and $720.00 in costs and expenses.

DISCUSSION:

Motion For Attorney’s Fees, Costs and Expenses

Attorney’s Fees

Plaintiff moves for an award of attorney’s fees, costs and expenses in the total amount of $34,081.57, consisting of: $26,689.32 in attorney’s fees and $720.00 in recoverable costs, plus an 0.25 multiplier enhancement ($6,672.25) on attorney’s fees.

On June 13, 2019, Plaintiff accepted Defendant’s CCP § 998 offer, under which Defendant agreed to pay Plaintiff $14,000 in restitution and other damages, intended also to be used to pay off any remaining balance on Plaintiff’s car loan. Defendant also agreed to pay “reasonable costs, expenses and attorneys’ fees based on actual time expended pursuant to Civil Code § 1794(d), determined by the court to have been reasonably incurred by Plaintiff in connection with the commencement and prosecution of this action.” (Plaintiff’s Acceptance of Defendant’s Offer of Compromise, 6/13/19, ¶ 3.) Plaintiff agreed to dismiss the action with prejudice when the vehicle was surrendered and Defendant’s check cleared. (Id. ¶ 7.)

Plaintiff brought this under the Song-Beverly Act, Civil Code § 1790, et seq. The Act authorizes attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses, “reasonably incurred,” to be awarded to a prevailing buyer:

If the buyer prevails in an action under this section, the buyer shall be allowed by the court to recover as part of the judgment a sum equal to the aggregate amount of costs and expenses, including attorney’s fees based on actual time expended, determined by the court to have been reasonably incurred by the buyer in connection with the commencement and prosecution of such action.

(Civ. Code § 1794(d).)

Given that Plaintiff recovered $14,000, she is the prevailing party under the Song-Beverly Act.

The determination of reasonable amount of attorney’s fees is within the sound discretion of trial courts. (PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095; Akins v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 1127, 1134.) “The determination of what constitutes a reasonable fee generally ‘begins with the ‘lodestar,’ i.e., the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate . . . .’” (Graciano v. Robinson Ford Sales, Inc. (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 140, 154.) “[T]he lodestar is the basic fee for comparable legal services in the community; it 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….” (Ibid.) In setting the hourly rate for a fee award, courts are entitled to consider the “fees customarily charged by that attorney and others in the community for similar work.” (Bihun v. AT&T Info. Sys., Inc. (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 976, 997 [affirming rate of $450 per hour], overruled on other grounds by Lakin v. Watkins Associated Indus. (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 664.) The burden is on the party seeking attorney’s fees to prove the reasonableness of the fees. (Center for Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 603, 615.)

The Court has broad discretion in determining the amount of a reasonable fee award, which will not be overturned absent a “manifest abuse of discretion, a prejudicial error of law, or necessary findings not supported by substantial evidence.” (Bernardi v. County of Monterey (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 1379, 1393-1394.) The Court need not explain its calculation of the amount of attorney’s fees awarded in detail; identifying the factors considered in arriving at the amount will suffice. (Ventura v. ABM Indus. Inc. (2012) 212 Cal.App.4th 258, 274-275.)

Here, the Court finds that counsel’s hourly rate of $500 is reasonable (Declaration of M. Nicholas Nita, ¶ 20), with the accompanying observation that attorneys who bill at these hourly rates should not need to research routine issues of law and should use boilerplate when it will serve the client’s purposes. The Court takes note of the similarities between this case and other litigation filed and prosecuted by Plaintiff’s counsel. At these hourly billing rates, counsel is expected to be experienced in the area of lemon law and thus to be able to handle these cases efficiently, given their recurring factual and legal issues. Although Plaintiff argues that every “lemon law” case is “complex” and that the law in this area is in a “state of flux,” the developments summarized by Plaintiff are not recent developments that suggest that this particular case required more research or analysis than a typical lemon law case. (Motion, at p. 14.)

Plaintiff attached the billing records in this case as Exhibit A to the Nita Declaration, reflecting a lodestar amount of $26,689.32. The Court notes that the issues in this case were applicable to other consumers’ vehicles, thereby triggering economies of scale in terms of Plaintiff’s counsel’s efficiency in litigating this type of lemon law case. The Court acknowledges that Plaintiff’s counsel prepared requests for production, requests for admission, special interrogatories, form interrogatories, and deposition notices; however, this discovery should not have required anything more than slight factual modification to existing boilerplate. Plaintiff’s counsel did, however, review Defendant’s discovery responses and other communications. Ultimately, however, there was no law and motion in this case.

In addition, although Plaintiff’s counsel argues that this case precluded him, as a solo practitioner, from handling other cases simultaneously (Motion, at p. 15), the hours billed – 53.25 hours between February 2018 and the present – do not reflect full-time hours over that time period, even considering additional time that was written off. (Nita Decl. Exh. A.) The Court has also considered Defendant’s opposition, which it found to be quite persuasive, aside from the argument that the hourly rate of Plaintiff’s counsel is unreasonable.[1]

Using the lodestar approach, and in view of the totality of the circumstances, the Court finds that the total and reasonable amount of attorney’s fees incurred in this case for the work performed on behalf of Plaintiff is $10,000. The Court declines to award any lodestar multiplier, as the Court does not view this case as warranting the application of a multiplier to the lodestar amount as compared with other typical lemon law cases.

Costs

The Act provides for the recovery by a prevailing buyer of “the aggregate amount of costs and expenses . . . reasonably incurred by the buyer.”

If the buyer prevails in an action under this section, the buyer shall be allowed by the court to recover as part of the judgment a sum equal to the aggregate amount of costs and expenses, including attorney’s fees based on actual time expended, determined by the court to have been reasonably incurred by the buyer in connection with the commencement and prosecution of such action.

Civ. Code, § 1794(d). In addition, the prevailing plaintiff may recover expenses that are not costs recoverable under CCP § 1033.5. (Jensen v. BMW of North Am., Inc. (1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 112, 137-138.)

In that Defendant does not contest Plaintiff’s costs as set forth in the memorandum of costs attached as Exhibit B to the Nita Declaration, the Court will award Plaintiff her requested costs in the amount of $720.00.

Conclusion

In short, this was a relatively standard, run-of-the-mill, lemon law case which involve nothing unusual. There was the usual boilerplate discovery mechanisms by the parties. There were no law and motion matters. This case settled (as it should have) in a relatively short period of time. A total of twenty (20) hours at $500/hr. is the reasonable attorney’s fees which should have been incurred to date in this case.

The motion for attorney’s fees and costs is GRANTED in the amount of $10,000 in attorney’s fees and $720.00 in costs.

Moving party to give notice, unless waived.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dated: November 18, 2019 ___________________________________

Randolph M. Hammock

Judge of the Superior Court

Any party may submit on the tentative ruling by contacting the courtroom via email at Smcdept47@lacourt.org by no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the hearing.  All interested parties must be copied on the email.  It should be noted that if you submit on a tentative ruling the court will still conduct a hearing if any party appears. By submitting on the tentative you have, in essence, waived your right to be present at the hearing, and you should be aware that the court may not adopt the tentative, and may issue an order which modifies the tentative ruling in whole or in part.


[1]   Additionally, it should be noted that this Court declines Defendant’s request to “reduce [“greatly” or otherwise] the amount sought in this motion.” [Opposition, 1:26-27] This Court does not “reduce” anything. Its job is to merely set the appropriate and reasonable fee by utilizing a lodestar methodology. If that happens to be a lower number than sought, so be it.