Judge: Elaine W. Mandel, Case: SC129964, Date: 2022-08-04 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: SC129964    Hearing Date: August 4, 2022    Dept: P

Tentative Ruling
LMA & Sai 1433 Wilshire LLC v. Izzy’s Deli, Case No. SC129964
Hearing Date August 4, 2022
Defendants Izzy’s Deli and Israel Freeman’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees on Appeal

Defendants Izzy’s Deli and Israel Freeman (collectively “Izzy’s”) prevailed at trial and obtained a contractual award of attorney’s fees. Plaintiff LMA & Sai 1433 (“LMA”) appealed both the trial judgment and the fee award. Izzy’s prevailed on appeal, and both the trial judgment and the fee award were affirmed. Izzy’s now moves for an award of fees on appeal.

When a contract or statute authorizes the prevailing party to recover attorney’s fees, that party is entitled to fees incurred at trial and on appeal. Douglas E. Barnhart, Inc. v. CMC Fabricators, Inc. (2012) 211 Cal. App.4th 230, 250. In determining what is a reasonable fee to award the prevailing party, a judge may consider the amount of fees incurred by the opposing party. Maughan v. Google Tech., Inc. (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 1242, 1251.

Izzy’s seeks to recover $112,104, including $13,455 in connection with this motion. Izzy’s is entitled to reasonable fees, as it prevailed on appeal and the lease provides for prevailing party fees. The issue is whether the fees sought are reasonable.

LMA argues the requested fees are excessive per Maughan; LMA’s counsel incurred $61,267.98 during appeal. LMA claims this is evidence Izzy’s counsel overbilled. Additionally, LMA argues it was not necessary for two senior counsel to work on the appeal, so Foster’s request for $28,260.00 is unnecessary and duplicative. Finally, LMA argues there is a discrepancy between the amount sought and the billing statements.

Given the high stakes and the complexity of the issues– exemplified by the appellate court’s finding that the relevant legal test was “equivocal” –it was not unreasonable for Izzy’s to have two partners work on the case. Finally, since Izzy’s prevailed on appeal, the comparatively lower amount billed by LMA does not suggest Izzy’s counsel overbilled. Finally, Izzy’s reply explains that LMA’s interpretation of the billing statements is mistaken, and no discrepancy between the amount billed and the amount requested exists. The requested fees are substantial but reasonable, based on the hours billed, experience of counsel, billing rate and complexity of the issues. GRANTED in full.