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Westerlund v. Landmark Aviation

August 9, 2010

AVA WESTERLUND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LANDMARK AVIATION, A LOS ANGELES COUNTY FICTITIOUS BUSINESS ENTITY; GARRETT AVIATION SERVICES, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION DOING BUSINESS AS LANDMARK AVIATION; GARRETT AVIATION SERVICE CENTERS, AN UNKNOWN CALIFORNIA BUSINESS ENTITY; LANDMARK AVIATION -GARRETT, AN UNKNOWN CALIFORNIA BUSINESS ENTITY; GARRETT AVIATION SERVICES, LLC, A LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY, DOING BUSINESS AS LANDMARK AVIATION; ASSOCIATED AIR CENTER, L.P., LIMITED PARTNERSHIP; PIEDMONT HAWTHORNE AVIATION, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION; PIEDMONT HAWTHORNE AVIATION LLC DOING BUSINESS AS LANDMARK AVIATION; PIEDMONT/HAWTHORNE HOLDINGS, INC., A CORPORATION; AND DOES 1 THROUGH 50, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: George H. Wu, U.S. District Judge

ASSIGNED FOR ALL PURPOSES TO HON. GEORGE H. WU, RM. 10 ORDER:

(1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF AVA WESTERLUND'S MOTION TO CONFIRM THE ARBITRATION AWARD AS TO THE SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION, INCLUDING ATTORNEYS' FEES, COSTS AND INTEREST;

(2) DENYING PLAINTIFF AVA WESTERLUND'S MOTION TO PARTIALLY VACATE OR CORRECT THE ARBITRATION AWARD; AND

(3) DENYING DEFENDANT LANDMARK AVIATION'S MOTION TO VACATE THE ARBITRATION AWARD FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES DATE: July 8, 2010 TIME: 8:30 a.m.

PLACE: Courtroom 10 DISCOVERY CUT-OFF: NONE MOTION CUT-OFF: NONE TRIAL DATE: NONE TO ALL PARTIES AND TO THEIR ATTORNEYS OF RECORD HEREIN:

Order on Parties' Motions to Vacate, Correct and Confirm Arbitration Award PLEASE TAKE NOTICE THAT the hearing on (1) Plaintiff Ava Westerlund's Motion and Motion to Partially Vacate And/or Correct and to Partially Confirm the Arbitration Award; and (2) Defendant Landmark Aviation's Motion to Vacate Arbitration Award of Attorneys' Fees came on regularly for hearing on Thursday July 8, 2010, at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 10 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles Division), the Honorable George H. Wu, Judge presiding.

There were no other appearances.

Having considered the moving, opposing and reply papers, and documents submitted in support thereof by both parties, as to both motions, the Court ruled as follows:

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Ava Westerlund ("Plaintiff'), originally brought suit in state court for disability discrimination and retaliation and various wage and hour claims. Defendant Garrett Aviation Services, LLC d/b/a Landmark Aviation ("Defendant") timely removed the matter to this Court, whereupon the matter was stayed to allow the parties to arbitrate pursuant to a contractual arbitration provision. On January 21, 2010, the arbitrator issued an award that expressly denied relief on all of Plaintiff's claims for discrimination and retaliation, but awarded her $2,413.29 on her sixth cause of action on her claim for missed meal and rest breaks and $2,719.20 in waiting time penalties (with an offset of $2,505.36 that had previously been paid to Plaintiff). See Decision and Partial Final Award Case No. 72 1600042509 (Exhibit A to Defendant's Motion) p.18. In addition, the arbitrator awarded Plaintiff Order on Parties' Motions to Vacate, Correct and Confirm Arbitration Award attorneys' fees limited to "only those attorneys' fees related to the recovery of the wage and hour claims." Id. at 17-18 n. 8. Because the arbitrator found that Plaintiff was entitled to attorneys' fees only in connection with this claim, he ordered her to apportion her fees. Id.

In a subsequent fee petition, Plaintiff failed to apportion her fees. Nevertheless, in making his award of attorneys' fees, the arbitrator wrote:

Although, for the most part, Claimant's counsel did not maintain time entries in such a way that it is possible to determine to which portion of the case a particular entry related, there are other methods of determining an appropriate fee award. Indeed, Claimant has proposed one: Deducting certain identifiable entries that describe work unrelated to the wage and hour claims and then allocating 50% of the remaining time to these claims. Although I find that Claimant has not deducted sufficiently before allocating and that a 50% allocation is not appropriate, I do find that this methodology is appropriate to satisfy my initial decision and to make an appropriate award of a reasonable fee.

Final Decision and Award Case No. 72 1600042509 (Exh. D to Motion) at 9. Following a fairly detailed explanation of his methodology, including the application of a 1.2 multiplier of the lodestar figure, the arbitrator issued an award of $64,192.70 in attorneys' fees in connection with Plaintiff's wage and hour claim.

Defendant now challenges this award of attorneys' fees on the grounds that: (1) Plaintiff's fee application should have been denied for failure to apportion her fees; (2) the award of fees should have been reduced to reflect Plaintiff's limited success in pursuing her claims; and (3) the application of a multiplier was improper. For the reasons stated below, both Defendant's and Plaintiff's motions to vacate the arbitration ...


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