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James Holcomb & Rotoco, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., LLC

United States District Court for the Southern District of California

February 14, 2020, Decided; February 14, 2020, Filed

Case No.: 18cv475 JM (BGS)

Opinion

ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES AND REIMBURSEMENT OF COSTS AND EXPENSES

Plaintiffs James Holcomb and Rotoco, Inc. ("Plaintiffs") move for $129,804.96 in attorney's fees and costs pursuant to the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act ("the Song-Beverly Act"), Cal. Civ. Code. § 1794(d). (Doc. No. 44.) The motion has been briefed and the court finds it suitable for submission without oral argument in accordance with Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the below reasons, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs leased and then purchased a 2014 BMW M6 ("the vehicle") on October 6, 2014 and October 12, 2017, respectively. [*2]  The vehicle began exhibiting various problems with its steering wheel, windows, fuel filler neck, carbon canister, and warning lights. Plaintiffs brought the vehicle to Defendant's repair facility at least eight times for warranty-related repairs, which were unsuccessful. On January 19, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the instant action in state court. The action was timely removed to federal court. On June 4, 2019, the parties filed a notice of settlement. (Doc. Nos. 28-29.) The parties finalized the settlement agreement and subsequently filed a joint motion to dismiss with prejudice. (Doc. No. 40.) The court granted the motion and agreed to retain jurisdiction for the purpose of hearing Plaintiffs' motion for attorney's fees and costs. (Doc. No. 43.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A buyer who prevails in an action under the Song-Beverly Act is entitled to an award of attorney's fees and costs "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." Cal.Civ. Code § 1794(d). The court must determine "whether under all the circumstances of the case the amount of actual time expended and the monetary charge being made [*3]  for the time expended are reasonable." Nightingale v. Hyundai Motor Am., 31 Cal. App. 4th 99, 104, 37 Cal. Rptr. 2d 149 (1994). "In a diversity case, the law of the state in which the district court sits determines whether a party is entitled to attorney fees, and the procedure for requesting an award of attorney fees is governed by federal law." Carnes v. Zamani, 488 F.3d 1057, 1059 (9th Cir. 2007). The method of calculating fees is determined by state law. Mangold v. Cal. Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 67 F.3d 1470, 1478 (9th Cir. 1995).

The lodestar method is the prevailing method for calculating attorney's fees. Robertson v. Fleetwood Travel Trailers of California, Inc., 144 Cal. App. 4th 785, 818-19, 50 Cal. Rptr. 3d 731 (2006); Ketchum v. Moses, 24 Cal. 4th 1122, 1135, 104 Cal. Rptr. 2d 377, 17 P.3d 735 (2001). In calculating the lodestar, the court must "'make an initial determination of the actual time expended; and then . . . . ascertain whether under all the circumstances of the case the amount of the actual time expended and the monetary charge being made for the time expended are reasonable.'" Robertson, 144 Cal. App. 4th at 817 (quoting Nightingale, 31 Cal. App. 4th at 104). In determining the reasonableness of the lodestar, courts can consider the complexity of the case, procedural demands, the skill exhibited, and the results achieved. Id.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26094 *

JAMES HOLCOMB and ROTOCO, INC., Plaintiffs, v. BMW OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC, Defendant.

CORE TERMS

Plaintiffs', billed, paralegal, attorney's fees, cases, costs, settlement, law clerk, rates, per hour, deposition, preparation, courts, multiplier, e-mail, work hours, block-billed, tasks, Song-Beverly Act, costs and expenses, instant motion, discovery, clerical, records, attend, spent, legal assistant, duplicative, litigating, expended