Friday, November 5, 2004
C.A. Says Appeal in Name of Clients Ineffective to Challenge Monetary Sanctions Imposed on Their Attorneys
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Lawyers for two plaintiffs remain saddled with an order to pay $4,013 in sanctions after the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday that their challenge to the order was ineffective.
The challenge came in an appeal on behalf of the plaintiffs, Ernesto and Lisa Nevarez, who sued a finance company for repossessing their car after they made their delinquent payment. What the lawyers failed to appreciate is that the sanctions were imposed on them, personally, and not the client, Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst said in an unpublished decision for this district’s Div. Two.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jan Pluim imposed the sanctions based on the failure of the lawyers to voluntarily dismiss the action. The Nevarezes were represented at trial and on appeal by the law firm of Fensten, Gelber, Reyna, & Martinez.
“To the extent that the Nevarezes appeal from an order awarding $4,013 in sanctions pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 128.7, that portion of the appeal is dismissed. No such order exists in the record.”
The jurist elaborated in a footnote:
“We ordered the Superior Court file. The trial court did award sanctions, but only against the Nevarezes’ counsel, not the Nevarezes. When alerted to this fact at oral argument, counsel made an oral motion to amend the appeal. We deem the oral motion improper. The only way we could reach this issue is if counsel had filed a timely notice of appeal of their own.”
The appeal on behalf of the clients failed. Ashmann-Gerst said that Pluim correctly granted summary judgment in light of Business and Professions Code Sec. 7507.13 which provides that a lienholder is “not liable for any act or omission by a licensed repossession agency in carrying out an assignment.”
Abraham J. Colman, Jonathan D. Fink and Kirsten A. Ehring of Buchalter, Nemer, Fields & Younger acted for the respondent, Chase Manhattan Bank.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company