Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Court of Appeal:
Fee Award for Only Five Hours Spent on Anti-SLAPP Motion Is Inadequate
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday departed from its customary deference to a trial court’s reckoning of attorney fees, holding that an award of fees to a prevailing party on an anti-SLAPP motion which represented only five hours of legal work was, on its face, an abuse of discretion.
Div. One, in an unpublished opinion by Presiding Justice Frances Rothschild, ordered issuance of a writ of mandate ordering that plaintiff Farzad Kohanbash be compensated for 24 hours of his attorney’s time in gaining a striking of portions of a cross-complaint.
“Rather than remand the case for further litigation that is likely to cost the parties and the court more money than is in dispute,” Rothschild wrote, “we will order the trial court to enter an award of the full amount of attorney fees Kohanbash has requested.”
That amount is $9,000.
Noting that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lori A. Fournier had slashed the number of compensable hours by nearly 80 percent, Rothschild said:
“Kohanbash claimed reimbursement for 24 hours researching and drafting a motion, assembling exhibits, reviewing the opposition, drafting a reply, and attending a hearing. These are all core requirements for an attorney in litigating an anti-SLAPP motion, and they do not suggest that Kohanbash’s attorney over-litigated the motion. Even in the case of a relatively straightforward motion like the one at issue here, we cannot imagine that any attorney could represent his client responsibly and perform all these steps in only five hours.”
No Objection Raised
She noted that the defendant, Specialty Baking, Inc., did not object to the number of hours claimed, attesting to the reasonableness.
“There is simply no evidence in this case to support the trial court’s award of only five hours in attorney fees,” Rothschild declared.
The case is Kohanbash v. Specialty Baking , Inc., B283117.
Beverly Hills attorney Rafi Moghadam represented Kohanbash and Hussein Saffouri of the Contra Costa firm of Ramsey Law Group acted for the defendant.
Copyright 2019, Metropolitan News Company