Judge: Robert B. Broadbelt, Case: 20STCV49135, Date: 2023-02-28 Tentative Ruling

Tentative rulings are sometimes, but not always, posted. The purpose of posting a tentative ruling is to to help focus the argument. The posting of a tentative ruling is not an invitation for the filing of additional papers shortly before the hearing.

Case Number: 20STCV49135    Hearing Date: February 28, 2023    Dept: 53

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles – Central District

Department 53



luis aguiar , et al.;








mercedes-benz usa, llc , et al.;



Case No.:




Hearing Date:

February 28, 2023




10:00 a.m.




[Tentative] Order RE:



plaintiffs’ motion for attorney’s fees and costs



MOVING PARTIES:             Plaintiffs Luis Aguiar and Michele Aguiar


RESPONDING PARTY:       Defendant Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC

Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs

The court considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers filed in connection with this motion.


Plaintiffs Luis Aguiar and Michele Aguiar (“Plaintiffs”) filed this lemon law action on December 23, 2020, against defendant Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (“Defendant”).  On June 9, 2022, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Settlement of Entire Case with the court.

Plaintiffs and Defendant entered into the “Full and Final Release Agreement” on May 11, 2022, whereby Defendant agreed to pay Plaintiffs a confidential amount to settle this action.[1]  (Barry Decl., Ex. 4, Full and Final Release Agreement, ¶ 2.)  The parties further agreed that (1) Defendant will pay Plaintiffs’ reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to Civil Code section 1794, subdivision (d), to be determined either by the agreement of the parties or by motion, and (2) Plaintiffs shall be deemed the prevailing parties for purposes of such motion.  (Ibid.)

Plaintiffs now move the court for an order awarding them $24,104.75, consisting of (1) attorney’s fees in the amount of $21,118, and (2) costs in the amount of $2,986.75.

Civil Code section 1794, subdivision (d), provides:  “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.”

“[T]he fee setting inquiry in California ordinarily begins with the ‘lodestar,’ i.e., the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate. . . . .  The reasonable hourly rate is that prevailing in the community for similar work.  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.”  (PLCM Group v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095 (internal citations omitted).)  “[T]he verified time statements of the attorneys, as officers of the court, are entitled to credence in the absence of a clear indication the records are erroneous.”  (Horsford v. Board of Trustees of California State Univ. (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 359, 396.)

Plaintiffs have submitted the declarations of their counsel attesting to their qualifications, experience, and hourly rates.  (Barry Decl., ¶¶ 14, 16-17, 54, 102, 139; Kim Decl., ¶¶ 3, 6, 9; Matera Decl., ¶¶ 3-7; Norris Decl., ¶¶ 3-6; Hayes Decl., ¶¶ 3-5, 9.)  The court finds that the hourly rates charged and requested by Plaintiffs’ attorneys are reasonable.

The court finds that Plaintiffs have submitted evidence establishing a lodestar of $21,118, consisting of the hours billed by five of their attorneys.  (Barry Decl., ¶ 9; Barry Decl., Ex. 5; Mot., p. 10:9-18.)  The court finds that the number of hours billed by Plaintiffs’ attorneys in this case is reasonable. 

The court further finds that Plaintiffs have supported their request for costs in the amount of $2,986.75.  (Barry Decl., Ex. 7 [Memorandum of Costs].)

In its opposition, Defendant challenges eight categories of entries.  (Opp., p. 4:1-5:4.) The court finds that the entries billing for time spent (1) drafting written discovery, (2) drafting a meet and confer letter concerning Defendant’s discovery responses, (3) telephonically conferring with Plaintiffs regarding the status of this case, (4) reviewing the case file in advance of the Order to Show Cause re: dismissal, (5) attempting to resolve the issue of Plaintiffs’ requested attorney’s fees and costs, (6) reviewing and revising the declarations filed in support of this motion, and (7) preparing a reply brief in support of this motion are not unreasonable or excessive.  The court notes that Defendant also contends that there are identical entries for attorney Barry’s review of Defendant’s notice of deposition of the plaintiff on April 5, 2022.  However, the April 5, 2022 entries concerning the review of Defendant’s notices of deposition relate separately to both (1) plaintiff M. Aguiar, and (2) plaintiff L. Aguiar.  (Barry Decl., Ex. 5, p. 10.)  Thus, the court finds that the challenged April 5, 2022 entries are not duplicative.

The court therefore finds that Plaintiffs are entitled to an award of attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $24,104.75.


The court grants plaintiffs Luis Aguiar and Michele Aguiar’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs. 

The court orders that plaintiffs Luis Aguiar and Michele Aguiar shall recover a total of $24,104.75 from defendant Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, consisting of $21,118 in attorney’s fees and $2,986.75 in costs, pursuant to Civil Code section 1794, subdivision (d).





The court orders plaintiffs Luis Aguiar and Michele Aguiar to give notice of this ruling.


DATED:  February 28, 2023




Robert B. Broadbelt III

Judge of the Superior Court

[1] The court notes that the settlement agreement includes a provision “that the amount of any payments made pursuant to this Agreement shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed” for any purpose except as necessary or required by law.  (Barry Decl., Ex. 4, Full and Final Release Agreement, ¶ 7.)  Although Defendant states in its opposition that it “is going to file a request to keep all documents related to the motion for attorney fees sealed[,]” Defendant has not filed any motion with the court requesting that relief.  (Opp., p. 2, fn. 2.)