Wednesday, November 20, 2019
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has declared that detailed time entries were not necessary to justify a trial court award, on remand, of $33,000 for the successful handling of an appeal, saying that the amount is reasonable on its face.
Justice John Segal of Div. Seven wrote the opinion, filed Monday and not certified for publication. It affirms a $67,458.07 award by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie M. Bowick of attorney fees for trial and appellate court work.
Segal also penned the Sept. 25, 2017 opinion in the case which reversed a denial of attorney fees by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Susan Bryant-Deason to defendant Ada Wang, whom Segal proclaimed to be the prevailing party in a spat among members of a homeowners’ association.
Plaintiffs Alexsei Durack and Colin Fulford had settled with all defendants except Wang; while the case was trailing, they dismissed their action against her without prejudice; Wang sought attorney fees; Bryant-Deason denied them, ruling that there was no prevailing party; the Court of Appeal, in Segal’s 2017 opinion, reversed, citing a Civil Code section relating to homeowner association disputes.
On remand, the losers filed a peremptory challenge to Bryant-Deason and the case was shifted to Bowick. Segal found no merit to the contention that, notwithstanding the 2017 opinion, Wang was entitled to no fees, and viewed the firm’s hourly rate of $395 as reasonable.
Addressing the fee award relating to the earlier appeal, Segal said:
“True, the declaration of Wang’s appellate counsel did not include any detail. But the significance of detailed time entries is reduced for appellate work—there are only four or five kinds of tasks an appellate lawyer generally records on a time sheet: review the record, read the briefs, conduct research for the briefs, write the briefs, and argue the briefs. And $33,000 is a very reasonable amount for an appeal, particularly where the attorney is representing the appellant and files an opening and reply brief, appears for oral argument, and obtains a reversal. It is hard to imagine an appeal like Durack I reasonably could have been done for much less than that.”
The case is Durack v. Wang, B293597.
The parties were represented by the same lawyers as in 2017: Christie Gaumer for Durack and Fulford and Stephen C. Duringer and Edward L. Laird for Wang.
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