October 15, 2019
Plaintiff sued Hyundai Motor America under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. The parties settled pre-trial for $85,000. Plaintiff moved for $191,688.75 in attorney’s fees seeking to recover for 11 attorneys working on the matter. Hyundai contended that this was a “simple case” that did not justify such extensive attorney staffing. The trial court awarded $73,864 in fees and plaintiff appealed.
The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees for only five of the eleven attorneys who billed on the matter, rather than calculating an attorney-by-attorney reduction for duplicative work or an across-the-board percentage reduction from the overall fee award, the approved approach in prior cases.
Although this decision arose under the Song-Beverly Act, the court’s holding should apply equally in any case in which a prevailing plaintiff moves for statutory attorney’s fees.
Note: Horvitz & Levy submitted a request for publication of this decision on behalf of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, which was granted.