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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/01/2018 at 18:39:39 (UTC).

VIDEO SYMPHONY, LLC VS. MEYGHAN HILL, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 03/23/2017 VIDEO SYMPHONY, LLC filed a Contract - Debt Collection lawsuit against MEYGHAN HILL. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Burbank Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are DONNA FIELDS GOLDSTEIN and BENNY C. OSORIO. The case status is Disposed - Dismissed.

Case Details Parties Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****6501

  • Filing Date:

    03/23/2017

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Dismissed

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Debt Collection

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Burbank Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

DONNA FIELDS GOLDSTEIN

BENNY C. OSORIO

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants

VIDEO SYMPHONY LLC

DEBT ENFORCEMENT LAW GROUP

FLANAGAN MICHAEL

Defendants and Cross Plaintiffs

SCOTT JAMES

HILL MEYGHAN

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

DEBT ENFORCEMENT LAW GROUP

Defendant Attorney

LEGAL AID FOUNDATION OF LA

Court Documents

Court documents are not available for this case.

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/25/2018
  • Notice (OF RULING RE ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE ); Filed by Atty for Defendant and Cross-Compl

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  • 04/17/2018
  • at 08:30 am in Department NCBB, Benny C. Osorio, Presiding; Order to Show Cause (re STATUS OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT.ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE DISMISSAL) - Court makes order

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  • 03/23/2018
  • Request for Dismissal-Partial (OF CROSS-COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICEX ); Filed by Defendant and Cross-Complainant

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  • 03/14/2018
  • at 08:32 am in Department NCBB, Benny C. Osorio, Presiding; Final Status Conference (JT-3/26/18) - Case Deemed Settled

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  • 03/09/2018
  • List of Witnesses; Filed by Atty for Defendant and Cross-Compl

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  • 03/09/2018
  • Proof of Service; Filed by Atty for Defendant and Cross-Compl

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  • 03/09/2018
  • Brief (TRIAL ); Filed by Atty for Defendant and Cross-Compl

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  • 03/09/2018
  • Exhibit List; Filed by Atty for Defendant and Cross-Compl

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  • 03/09/2018
  • Jury Instructions; Filed by Atty for Defendant and Cross-Compl

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  • 03/09/2018
  • Proof of Service (OF DEFENDANT'S REPLY TO NON- OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO COMPEL MICHAEL FLANAGAN TO FURTHER RESPOND TO DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (SET ONE)); Filed by Atty for Defendant and Cross-Compl

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48 More Docket Entries
  • 03/23/2017
  • Request-Waive Court Fees; Filed by Petitioner

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  • 03/23/2017
  • Proof of Svc of Summons & Co./Ptn.; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

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  • 03/23/2017
  • Cross-Compl fld- No Summons Issued (Limited Civil Case RE-Classified by this Pleading as an Unlimited Civil Case Pursuant to CCP 403.030 CRC 2.111(11) ); Filed by Attorney for Defendant

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  • 03/23/2017
  • Answer; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

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  • 03/23/2017
  • Order-Court Fee Waiver (DENIED ); Filed by Petitioner

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  • 03/23/2017
  • Request for Entry of Default; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

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  • 03/23/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

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  • 03/23/2017
  • First Amended Cross-Complaint; Filed by Atty for Deft and Cross-Complnt

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  • 03/23/2017
  • Notice of Transfer of Action (NOTICE OF TRANSFER FROM CHATSWORTH AND RECLASSIFICATION FROM LIMITED 16A03428 TO UNLIMITED ); Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/23/2017
  • Summons Filed; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: EC066501    Hearing Date: January 08, 2021    Dept: NCB

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

North Central District

Department B

video symphony, llc,

Plaintiff,

v.

meyghan hill, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: EC066501

Hearing Date: January 8, 2021

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

motion to enforce settlement agreement pursuant to ccp § 664.6

BACKGROUND

A. Allegations of the Operative Complaint

Plaintiff Video Symphony, LLC (“VS” or “Plaintiff”) is an assignee of Video Symphony EnterTraining, Inc. (“VSE”), which was a TV, film, and audio vocational college in Burbank. VS on various dates in 2012-2015 obtained all legal rights to certain accounts receivable owned by VSE, include those of Defendants Meyghan Hill (“Hill”) and James Scott’s (“Scott”). VS alleges Defendants entered into promissory notes and contracts with VSE.

Hill was a student of VSE and on June 11, 2009, entered into a written agreement, “Video Symphony Career Training Program Enrollment Agreement”, and enrolled in VSE’s Film & Video Editing certificate program. The total student costs and fees for Hill was $30,104.00. She also signed a student promissory note with a loan amount of $14,761.50 and a total payment amount of $20,416.12 on July 9, 2009. The maturity date of the note was June 7, 2014. Scott applied for credit with VS as Hill’s co-signer. VS alleges some payments were made, but Defendants failed to pay the full amount they were obligated to pay under the loan. Specifically, there is an unpaid balance of $17,186 on the note as of the June 7, 2014 maturity date.

The FAC filed November 3, 2017, alleges a single cause of action for breach of promissory note.

Hill filed a second amended cross-complaint (“SAXC”) against VS, Michael Flanagan (“Flanagan”), and Debt Enforcement Law Group (“DELG”) on June 6, 2017 for: (1) Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and (2) California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“Rosenthal Act”). On March 23, 2018, Hill voluntarily dismissed her cross-complaint with prejudice.

B. Relevant Procedural Background

On February 13, 2018, the default of Scott was entered.

On April 17, 2018, the Court by Judge Benny Osorio (ret.) held an OSC re Status of Settlement Agreement and OSC re Dismissal. At the hearing, defense counsel represented there was a signed settlement agreement, which states the entire case and all parties shall be dismissed. The Court noted that Plaintiff’s counsel refused to dismiss the case. Defense counsel provided the Court with the signed settlement agreement. Judge Osorio stated that after reviewing the terms of the settlement agreement, the entire action and all parties were dismissed with prejudice. The Court retained jurisdiction for the purposes of enforcing the terms of the settlement agreement pursuant to CCP § 664.6.

Thereafter, Plaintiff moved to set aside/vacate the dismissal as to Scott. The motion was not opposed. On November 16, 2018, the Court by Judge John Kralik granted the motion and ordered Plaintiff to provide notice of the order and re-serve the summons and complaint on Scott.

On February 4, 2019, the Court issued a Court Order stating that it was concerned that its November 16, 2018 ruling was erroneous because the April 17, 2018 dismissal did not appear to result from the excusable neglect of counsel but rather resulted from Judge Osorio’s decision after reviewing the settlement agreement of the parties. Thus, the Court set an OSC on April 25, 2019 to discuss why the matter should not be fully and finally dismissed.

On April 25, 2019, the Court found that its previous November 16, 2018 ruling was incorrect, and that Plaintiff had failed to serve Scott within the required time. Hence, the Court ordered Plaintiff’s complaint filed on March 23, 2017 to be dismissed with prejudice.[1]

On June 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal of the Court’s April 25, 2019 seeking reversal of the Court’s November 16, 2018 order to grant the motion to set aside/vacate the dismissal.

On August 30, 2019, the Court denied without prejudice Hill’s first motion for attorney’s fees, wherein she sought $25,903.47. The Court denied the motion because Hill had failed to file a proper notice of motion, she failed to identify what legal basis she was bringing her motion under, and the Court could not ascertain whether it had jurisdiction to hear the motion.

On February 19, 2020, the Court of Appeal issued its order, affirming this Court’s order entered on April 25, 2019, dismissing the complaint against Scott. The Court of Appeal stated that Hill shall recover her costs on appeal. The Remittitur was filed on June 12, 2020.

On July 13, 2020, Hill filed a motion for attorney’s fees and costs against Plaintiff VS and Flanagan for the time spent to enforce the settlement agreement. On November 9, 2020, the Court granted Hill’s motion for attorney’s fees in the amount of $31,000 against VS only.

On November 30, 2020, the Court entered the Judgment for Defendant/Cross-Complainant Hill and against Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant Video Symphony, LLC in the amount of $34,109.22 and the Court retained jurisdiction over the parties and the action including pursuant to CCP § 664.6. The $34,109.22 amount is inclusive of $31,000 in attorney’s fees, $2,532.07 in costs, and $576.95 in appeal costs. Hill filed a Notice of Entry of Judgment with the Court and served it by mail on Plaintiffs on December 8, 2020.

C. Motion to Enforce Settlement

On November 30, 2020, Video Symphony, LLC (“VS”) filed a motion to enforce the Settlement Agreement pursuant to CCP § 664.6, seeking: (1) declaratory relief; (2) monetary damages incurred by VS caused by Hill from the undue dismissal of James Scott; (3) a Court order vacating its prior November 9, 2020 order (or subsequent judgment) awarding attorney’s fees to Hill; and (4) and award of attorney’s fees to enforce the Settlement Agreement.

On December 24, 2020, Hill filed an opposition brief.

On December 31, 2020, VS filed a reply brief.

DISCUSSION

VS moves to enforce the Settlement Agreement, seeking: (1) declaratory relief that the Settlement Agreement does not require the dismissal of James Scott and that VS is the prevailing party in this matter; (2) monetary damages incurred from Hill’s counsel “thwarting” VS’s efforts to obtain a default judgment against James Scott in the amount of $20,522; (3) damages incurred from attorney’s fees and costs awarded to Hill’s counsel in the amount of $34,109 in a prior action before the Court, or alternatively for the Court to vacate the order or subsequent judgment awarding fees to Hill’s counsel in November 2020; and (4) awarding VS attorney’s fees and costs incurred to enforce the Settlement Agreement for $35,076 in attorney’s fees and $2,774 in costs. VS argues that it has expended time and effort to enforce the Settlement Agreement, which stemmed from the deceit of Adam Wolf (Hill’s counsel) when Wolf “cheated” before the Court on April 17, 2018 during an OSC re Voluntary Dismissal by claiming the Settlement Agreement contained material language which it did not.

VS argues that Judge Osorio performed a cursory review of the Settlement Agreement and counsel for Hill, Adam Wolf, manipulated the Court’s interpretation of the agreement by lying to the Court that the agreement had text that it did not.

The copy of the signed Settlement Agreement is attached as Exhibit A to VS’s moving papers. The agreement was entered between VS and Hill, and signed by Mr. Flanagan on behalf of VS and himself on March 13, 2018, and signed by Hill on March 14, 2018. The specific paragraph at issue is paragraph 5:

5. VS LLC, on behalf of itself and its heirs, representatives, executors, wards, administrators, agents, successors-in-interest, attorneys, law firms, subrogors and assigns, does hereby authorize and direct its attorney to dismiss forewith all causes of action, with prejudice, in the aforementioned legal action, entitled: Video Symphony, LLC, vs. Meyghan Hill, et al., bearing Case No. EC066501, immediately upon execution of this agreement. Meyghan Hill shall on behalf of herself and her heirs, representatives, executors, wards, administrators, agents, successors-in-interest, attorneys, law firms, subrogors and assigns, does hereby authorize and direct her attorney to dismiss her causes of action, with prejudice, in the aforementioned legal action, entitled: Video Symphony, LLC, vs. Meyghan Hill, et al., bearing Case No. EC066501, immediately upon execution of this agreement.

(Settlement Agreement, § 5 [underline added].)

As an initial matter, VS’s motion appears to be a disguised motion for reconsideration, rather than a motion to enforce. However, this issue was raised and addressed on multiple occasions with this Court as well as the Court of Appeal. As noted by the Court of Appeal in its opinion (dated February 19, 2020; remittitur June 16, 2020), VS did not timely raise the April 2018 dismissal order or the November 2018 order granting the motion to set aside the dismissal with the appellate court, such that the only issue that the Court of Appeal could discuss was the April 25, 2019 order setting aside the November 2018 order dismissing the complaint. (See Court of Appeal Opinion at p.8.) However, even in discussing the April 2019 order, the Court of Appeal affirmed this Court’s order dismissing the complaint. The issue regarding the dismissal has been raised and discussed by this Court and the Court of Appeal already, such that the Court need not discuss the propriety of the dismissal again. This is a ground to deny the motion as the Court of Appeal has already considered the propriety of the dismissal and affirmed this Court’s order of dismissal.

Next, a motion to enforce the settlement agreement is not the proper mechanism to seek VS’s requested relief. VS is essentially asking the Court to enter an order rescinding the parties’ settlement agreement, enter into a different version that Hill may not agree to, and enforce the terms of that second agreement. The Court notes that a different version of the Settlement Agreement is not provided, such that the Court is not aware of the parties signing any other version of the agreement. The Court’s authority under CCP § 664.6 is limited where “the court, upon motion, may enter judgment pursuant to the terms of the settlement.” “The trial court may not ‘create the material terms of a settlement, as opposed to deciding what terms the parties themselves have previously agreed upon.’ Thus, a trial court cannot enforce a settlement under section 664.6 unless the trial court finds the parties expressly consented, in this case in writing, to the material terms of the settlement.” (Bowers v. Raymond J. Lucia Companies, Inc. Thus, the Court may only enforce the terms of the signed agreement entered by the parties and will not and cannot enter orders for declaratory relief, monetary damages for “thwarting”, or withdraw attorney’s fees and costs awarded to Hill. These are not terms that were provided for in the Settlement Agreement. This too is a basis to deny the motion.

Even if the Court were to consider VS’s substantive arguments, the Court would still deny VS’s motion. VS argues that the Settlement Agreement did not include a dismissal of the entire action as to “all parties” and that Scott was not a party to the Settlement Agreement. However, VS has not provided case law showing that settlements and dismissal must include limited, specific language in order to properly enter into a dismissal. While a Request for Dismissal CIV-110 form may be used to enter the dismissal of all or certain parties, there are other ways to enter a dismissal of parties, such as a dismissal being reflected on the Court’s minute order via the oral request of counsel.

VS also argues that Mr. Wolf deceived the Court at the OSC hearing in April 2018 and thereafter.[2] However, it is unclear what was said at that hearing other than the Court’s minute order. At that time, Judge Osorio was presiding over the April 17, 2018 hearing. VS also admits that its counsel, Mr. Flanagan, was unable to attend the hearing so an appearance attorney was sent on his behalf. Though VS argues that the Court should have continued the OSC as there was good cause under CRC Rule 3.1332(c)(3), there is no indication that the appearance attorney made such a request on VS’s behalf. The April 17, 2018 minute order states:

Counsel for defendant represents there is a signed settlement agreement, which states the entire case and all parties shall be dismissed. However, plaintiff’s counsel is refusing to dismiss this case.

Counsel for defendant provides the court with the signed settlement agreement, which is reviewed by the Court.

After review of the terms of the settlement agreement, this entire action and all parties are dismissed with prejudice. The Court will retain jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing the terms of the settlement agreement pursuant to Civil Code of Procedure Section 664.6.

VS argues that Mr. Wolf misrepresented to the Court that the Settlement Agreement stated that “the entire case and all parties shall be dismissed.” However, regardless of what was said by Mr. Wolf, Judge Osorio reviewed the terms of the signed Settlement Agreement and determined for himself that the dismissal was as to the entirety of the action—inclusive of all parties. There is no evidence my VS that Mr. Wolf presented the Court with a different version of the Settlement Agreement and the Court will not make such determinations that Mr. Wolf purportedly “cheated” the Court at the April 17, 2018 hearing.

For the reasons stated above, the motion is denied.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

VS’s motion to enforce the settlement agreement is denied.

Hill shall provide notice of this order.


[1] The Court notes that the complaint was filed by Plaintiff on March 9, 2016, and the FAC was filed on November 3, 2017. The only pleading filed on March 23, 2017 was the first amended cross-complaint by Hill. The operative cross-complaint, the SAXC, was filed on June 6, 2017.

[2] VS argues that Mr. Wolf knew that Mr. Flanagan only intended to dismiss Hill and not Scott based on emails exchanged from April 6 to April 9, 2018. (See Mot., Ex. C.) While the parties’ counsel discussed the scope of the dismissal, the parties do not deny that they signed the Settlement Agreement on March 13, 2018 and March 14, 2018 with the language that VS will “dismiss forewith [sic] all causes of action, with prejudice, in the aforementioned legal action.” (Settlement Agreement, § 5.)

Case Number: EC066501    Hearing Date: November 06, 2020    Dept: NCB

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

North Central District

Department B

video symphony, llc,

Plaintiff,

v.

meyghan hill, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: EC066501

Hearing Date: November 6, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

motion for attorney’s fees

BACKGROUND

A. Allegations of the Operative Complaint

Plaintiff Video Symphony, LLC (“VS” or “Plaintiff”) is an assignee of Video Symphony EnterTraining, Inc. (“VSE”), which was a TV, film, and audio vocational college in Burbank. VS on various dates in 2012-2015 obtained all legal rights to certain accounts receivable owned by VSE, include those of Defendants Meyghan Hill (“Hill”) and James Scott’s (“Scott”). VS alleges Defendants entered into promissory notes and contracts with VSE.

Hill was a student of VSE and on June 11, 2009, entered into a written agreement, “Video Symphony Career Training Program Enrollment Agreement”, and enrolled in VSE’s Film & Video Editing certificate program. The total student costs and fees for Hill was $30,104.00. She also signed a student promissory note with a loan amount of $14,761.50 and a total payment amount of $20,416.12 on July 9, 2009. The maturity date of the note was June 7, 2014. Scott applied for credit with VS as Hill’s co-signer. VS alleges some payments were made, but Defendants failed to pay the full amount they were obligated to pay under the loan. Specifically, there is an unpaid balance of $17,186 on the note as of the June 7, 2014 maturity date.

The FAC filed November 3, 2017, alleges a single cause of action for breach of promissory note.

Hill filed a second amended cross-complaint (“SAXC”) against VS, Michael Flanagan (“Flanagan”), and Debt Enforcement Law Group (“DELG”) on June 6, 2017 for: (1) Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and (2) California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“Rosenthal Act”). On March 23, 2018, Hill voluntarily dismissed her cross-complaint with prejudice.

B. Relevant Procedural Background

On February 13, 2018, the default of Scott was entered.

On April 17, 2018, the Court by Judge Benny Osorio (ret.) held an OSC re Status of Settlement Agreement and OSC re Dismissal. At the hearing, defense counsel represented there was a signed settlement agreement, which states the entire case and all parties shall be dismissed. The Court noted that Plaintiff’s counsel refused to dismiss the case. Defense counsel provided the Court with the signed settlement agreement. Judge Osorio stated that after reviewing the terms of the settlement agreement, the entire action and all parties were dismissed with prejudice. The Court retained jurisdiction for the purposes of enforcing the terms of the settlement agreement pursuant to CCP § 664.6.

Thereafter, Plaintiff moved to set aside/vacate the dismissal as to Scott. The motion was not opposed. On November 16, 2018, the Court by Judge John Kralik granted the motion and ordered Plaintiff to provide notice of the order and re-serve the summons and complaint on Scott.

On February 4, 2019, the Court issued a Court Order stating that it was concerned that its November 16, 2018 ruling was erroneous because the April 17, 2018 dismissal did not appear to result from the excusable neglect of counsel but rather resulted from Judge Osorio’s decision after reviewing the settlement agreement of the parties. Thus, the Court set an OSC on April 25, 2019 to discuss why the matter should not be fully and finally dismissed.

On April 25, 2019, the Court found that its previous November 16, 2018 ruling was incorrect, and that Plaintiff had failed to serve Scott within the required time. Hence, the Court ordered Plaintiff’s complaint filed on March 23, 2017 to be dismissed with prejudice.[1]

On June 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal of the Court’s April 25, 2019 reversal of the Court’s November 16, 2018 order to grant the motion to set aside/vacate the dismissal.

On August 30, 2019, the Court denied without prejudice Hill’s first motion for attorney’s fees, wherein she sought $25,903.47. The Court denied the motion because Hill had failed to file a proper notice of motion, she failed to identify what legal basis she was bringing her motion under, and the Court could not ascertain whether it had jurisdiction to hear the motion.

On February 19, 2020, the Court of Appeal issued its order, affirming this Court’s order entered on April 25, 2019, dismissing the complaint against Scott. The Court of Appeal stated that Hill shall recover her costs on appeal. The Remittitur was filed on June 12, 2020.

C. Motion for Attorney’s Fees

On July 13, 2020, Hill filed a motion for attorney’s fees and costs against Plaintiff VS and Flanagan for the time spent to enforce the settlement agreement. She now seeks $60,943.00 in fees and $2,532.07 in costs, for a total amount of $63,475.07.

On October 22, 2020, VS and Flanagan filed an opposition to the motion.

On October 30, 2020, Hill filed a reply brief.

LEGLA STANDARD

Civil Code § 1717 states that a party may recover attorney’s fees when the party prevails in an action based on a contract that provides for the prevailing party to recover attorney’s fees. The court, upon notice and motion by a party, shall determine who is the prevailing party on the contract for purposes of section 1717, whether or not the suit proceeds to final judgment. (Civ. Code, § 1717(b)(1).)

The trial court has broad authority to determine the amount of a reasonable fee. (PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal. 4th 1084, 1095.) The award of attorney fees under section 1717 is governed by equitable principles. (Id.) The experienced trial judge is the best judge of the value of professional services rendered and the trial judge’s decision will not be disturbed unless the appellate court is convinced that it is clearly wrong, i.e., that it abused its discretion. (Id.) The fee setting inquiry in California ordinarily begins with the "lodestar," i.e., the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate. (Id.) California courts have consistently held that a computation of time spent on a case and the reasonable value of that time is fundamental to a determination of an appropriate attorneys' fee award. (Id.) The lodestar figure may then be adjusted, based on consideration of factors specific to the case, in order to fix the fee at the fair market value for the legal services provided. (Id.) Such an approach anchors the trial court's analysis to an objective determination of the value of the attorney's services, ensuring that the amount awarded is not arbitrary. (Id.)

No specific findings reflecting the Court’s calculations are required. (Wershba v. Apple Computer, Inc. (2001) 91 Cal. App. 4th 224, 254-255.) The record need only show that the attorney fees were awarded according to the ‘lodestar' approach. (Id.) In Wershba, the trial court awarded attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs based upon declarations evidencing the reasonable hourly rate for their services and establishing the number of hours spent working on the case. There were no time sheets submitted describing work done, there was no evidence establishing the rate charged as a reasonable hourly rate, and there was no evidence from which the Court could make findings regarding the various factors considered in the lodestar approach. The Court of Appeal found that no specific findings were required and affirmed the trial court’s order.

DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

As an initial matter, VS and Flanagan argue that this Court lacks subject matter and personal jurisdiction to hear this motion because the parties voluntarily dismissed the case on April 17, 2018 pursuant to a settlement agreement and the Court’s jurisdiction ceased except for its limited jurisdiction to enforce a settlement under CCP § 664.6 or CCP § 473 to vacate the dismissal.

The Court’s April 17, 2018 minute order reflects that the parties signed a settlement agreement, which states that the entire case and all parties shall be dismissed. The Court noted Plaintiff’s refusal to dismiss the case, but entered the dismissal of the entire action and all parties with prejudice. The Court retained jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing the terms of the settlement agreement pursuant to CCP § 664.6.

As summarized below, the Settlement Agreement entered by the parties provides for the recovery of attorney’s fees and costs in connection with enforcing the Settlement Agreement. Thus, the Court has retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the Settlement Agreement, including the attorney’s fees provision. As such, it will consider the substantive merits of this motion.

B. Entitlement to Attorney’s Fees

Hills moves for attorney’s fees and costs related to enforcing the settlement agreement between her, VS, and Flanagan pursuant to CCP § 1032 and Civil Code § 1717. Hill argues that she was forced to expend time and energy to enforce the settlement as a result of Flanagan’s actions. She argues that Flanagan dismissed claims against Scott, but then caused the dismissal to be overturned and re-filed the dismissed claims against Scott, which in turn caused Hill and her counsel to obtain another dismissal, attend multiple court hearings, and successfully defend against an appeal.

A copy of the settlement agreement is attached to the declaration of Adam B. Wolf as Exhibit A. (Wolf Decl., ¶4, Ex. A [Settlement Agreement].) The Settlement Agreement was entered between Plaintiff, Hill, and Flanagan. It stated that Hill will pay Plaintiff $4,750 for settling this action, as well as 120 monthly payments of $49.20 with the first payment due May 1, 2018, with an interest rate of 4.5%. (Settlement Agreement at p.1.) Plaintiff and Hill agreed to dismiss all causes of action, with prejudice, in this action (EC066501), immediately upon execution of the Settlement Agreement. (Id. at p.2, ¶5.) The Settlement Agreement states that if any action or proceeding is brought for the enforcement of the Settlement Agreement or for a declaration of rights and duties or because of an alleged dispute, breach, default or misrepresentation in connection with any provision of the Settlement Agreement, the successful or prevailing party shall be entitled to recover actual attorneys’ fees and any other costs incurred in connection with that action or proceeding, in addition to any other relief which the party may be entitled. (Id. at p.3, ¶15.) Flanagan, VS, and Hill executed the Settlement Agreement on March 13 and 14, 2018.

Here, there is a basis for the recovery of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in connection with enforcing the Settlement Agreement.

C. Amount of Attorney’s Fees Awarded

Hill seeks $60,943.00 in fees and $2,532.07 in costs in connection with enforcing the Settlement Agreement against VS and Flanagan. The Court notes that while VS and Flanagan have opposed the motion on the ground that the Court lacks jurisdiction over the matter and Hill lacked any legal or contractual basis for fees, they did not substantively oppose the motion regarding the amount or reasonableness of the attorney’s fees sought.

In support of the motion, Hill provides the declaration of her counsel, Adam B. Wolf:

· Mr. Wolf states that he spent: (1) 22.5 hours to enforce the Settlement Agreement from 2/1/19 to 4/25/19; (2) 37.6 hours on the appeal; and (3) 17.9 hours to resolve this fees motion without court intervention, drafting the motion, and updating the motion post-appeal. (Wolf Decl., ¶¶29-31.) A copy of the firm’s time keeping records is attached as Exhibit G.

· Mr. Wolf has attached an itemized cost list from 2019 to the present as Exhibit H. (Id., ¶32.) He states that 95.6% of the costs are for hearing transcripts and that he has omitted some costs. (Id.)

· Rates and Experience:

o Mr. Wolf’s standard billing rate is $830/hour, but he seeks a lower rate at $810/hour for this motion. (Id., ¶33.) He was admitted to the bar in 2001 and provides a background of his career. (Id., ¶¶36-42.)

o Tracey Cowan’s standard billing rate is $710/hour, but will be seeking a lower rate of $680/hour for this motion. (Id., ¶33.) She was admitted to the bar in 2007, is a certified mediator, and is a partner of Mr. Wolf’s firm. (Id., ¶¶44-47.)

o Tien Le’s standard billing rate is $290/hour, but will be seeking lower rate of $190/hour for this motion. (Id., ¶33.) She has been a paralegal for 14 years. (Id., ¶48.)

o Mr. Wolf states that these rates are lower than other Los Angeles based attorneys. (Id., ¶34, Ex. I.)

· Mr. Wolf provided another declaration with the reply brief. He states that he spent 3.6 hours in connection with the opposition and reply brief for this motion and seeks an additional $2,916 in attorney’s fees. He also anticipates spending $623 for the upcoming hearing and on transcript costs, as well as $810 for post-reply activity. (Wolf Decl. re Reply, ¶¶ 2-5.) Thus, the new total that he seeks to recover is $64,669.

As an initial matter, the Court notes that though Hill seeks attorney’s fees based on the lodestar method, she has not stated how many hours each counsel and staff members performed worked. Based on the Court’s calculation and review of the billing records, it appears that Mr. Wolf has incurred 68.8 hours total, Ms. Cowan has spent 8.8 hours, and Ms. Le has spent 1.5 hours total on this action.

The Court finds that the billing rates of counsel even at the reduced rates of $810 for Mr. Wolf and $680 for Ms. Cowan to be too high. Thus, the Court will reduce the rates of counsel to more appropriate rates of $400/hour for Mr. Wolf and $350/hour for Ms. Cowan. In doing so, the Court has taken into consideration this action and the claims presented, the procedural history, and the efforts undergone during appeal. Moreover, the questions presented in this matter were routine interpretations of routine minute orders. No special research or expertise was required, only a faithful recitation of the actual facts presented by a fairly simple record.

The time incurred by Ms. Le is modest at 1.5 hours. Upon reviewing the time spent by Ms. Le, the paralegal tasks she performed were predominately secretarial and administrative, such as saving files and calendaring events. For time spent on meeting with the team or Mr. Wolf, the Court finds that the billing rates of counsel are sufficiently high to include such secretarial and administrative time of support personnel. Thus, the Court declines to award the 1.5 hours incurred by Ms. Le in this action.

Thus, the total amount of fees awarded shall be $31,000. This accounts for 68.8 hours spent by Mr. Wolf at a $400/hour billing rate, or $27,520 total; and 8.8 hours spent by Ms. Cowan at $350/hour, or $3,080. This also accounts for a modest amount of $400 for the opposition and reply work. The Court declines to award additional costs and fees in connection with the hearing.

The Court has reviewed the costs attached to Exhibit I, which include costs for transcripts ($2,419.45), postage ($2.38), filing fees ($74.21), and travel costs during the appeal ($36.03). Hill filed a Memorandum of Costs on June 30, 2020. Pursuant to CRC Rule 3.1700(b)(4), after the time has passed for a motion to strike or tax costs or for the determination of that motion, the clerk must immediately enter the costs on the judgment. The Court need not enter the costs by way of this motion, but they appear to be proper and should be included in the judgment.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Hill’s motion for attorney’s fees is granted in the amount of $31,000.00 for attorney’s fees.

Hill shall provide notice of this order.


[1] The Court notes that the complaint was filed by Plaintiff on March 9, 2016, and the FAC was filed on November 3, 2017. The only pleading filed on March 23, 2017 was the first amended cross-complaint by Hill. The operative cross-complaint, the SAXC, was filed on June 6, 2017.

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