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DIANE COCHRAN v. CITY OF MURRIETA

November 30, 2010

DIANE COCHRAN, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
CITY OF MURRIETA, DEFENDANT; RACHAEL VAN HAASTER, REAL PARTY IN INTEREST AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County. Gloria Trask, Judge. Reversed with directions. (Super.Ct.No. RIC414486)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richli J.

Cochran v. City of Murrieta CA4/2

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

OPINION

I INTRODUCTION

This appeal addresses the right to recover attorney's fees incurred in postjudgment collection efforts, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure sections 685.040 and 685.080.*fn1

Diane Cochran (Cochran), respondent, is one of the seven remaining plaintiffs*fn2 who filed this action against the City of Murrieta in 2004, challenging its approval of a child care center and swim school owned by Rachael Van Haaster (Van Haaster), the appellant and real party in interest. This appeal involves only Cochran and Van Haaster.

In two previous appeals,*fn3 we found in favor of Van Haaster concerning her three anti-SLAPP motions and an award of attorney's fees against plaintiffs. (§ 425.16, subd. (c).)

Van Haaster now appeals from the lower court's order denying her postjudgment motion against Cochran. The only issue involves Van Haaster's claim for attorney's fees incurred in this case and a related proceeding for fraudulent conveyance of real property.*fn4 We hold that Van Haaster is entitled to her postjudgment fees incurred for collection on the judgment and remand for the trial court to exercise its discretion in determining the amount of fees.

II FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In July 2007, the court awarded Van Haaster anti-SLAAP attorney's fees in the amount of $114,010 against all plaintiffs jointly and severally. Both Cochran and plaintiff Lisa Gay assert they did not know they were parties to the present lawsuit and subject to liability for anti-SLAPP attorney's fees.

In January 2009, Van Haaster applied for an order to conduct a judgment debtor examination of Cochran, which was scheduled for March 13, 2009, and continued at Cochran's request to April 3, 2009. Cochran appeared for her examination and disclosed that, pursuant to the California Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (Prob. Code, § 3900 et seq.), she had transferred title to a rental property located on Mills Drive in Orange County to her minor daughter, Brooke Cochran (Brooke). In 1989, the rental property had been awarded to Cochran as her separate property as part of her legal separation from Thomas C. Cochran (Tom). Cochran explained the reason for the transfer was to provide her daughter with a college fund. The property was valued at $419,500 in January 2009 and received monthly rental income of $1,650. The transfer was accomplished by means of a quitclaim deed, recorded February 19, 2009, from Tom to Cochran and a grant deed, recorded March 26, 2009, from Cochran to Brooke.

On April 7, 2009, Van Haaster filed a complaint for fraudulent conveyance (Civ. Code, § 3439.04) against Cochran, Tom, and Brooke.*fn5 She also filed a ...


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