(Super. Ct. No. 34201000088655CUUDGDS)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robie , J.
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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
Plaintiff Sam Arman brought an unlawful detainer action (Code Civ. Proc., § 1161 et seq.) against defendants, Ali Poojani and his wife, alleging defendants had failed to pay rent as promised.
The trial court granted defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings, ruling that defendants are entitled to remain in possession of the premises, and to recover attorney fees and costs. It ultimately awarded defendants $14,587.50 in attorney fees, pursuant to the reciprocal application of a provision in the parties' lease agreement that provided, in a suit brought for the recovery of rent or the recovery of the premises, "Lessee shall pay to said Lessor a reasonable sum as and for attorney's fees . . . ."
In this pro se appeal, plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in awarding defendants attorney fees pursuant to Civil Code*fn1 section 1717, and awarded fees in an unreasonable amount. We disagree and affirm the judgment.
This case involves a long-term lease agreement. Plaintiff owns property on which defendants own and operate a gas station and mini market. In 1997, the parties entered into a written agreement whereby they agreed defendants would take over the existing lease between plaintiff and a former tenant. The attorney fees clause at issue in this appeal appears in an agreement between the parties entitled "Original Lease Terms" (in which plaintiff is defined as "Lessor" and defendants are defined as "Lessee") and states: "That in each suit brought for the recovery of any rent due hereunder, or for the recovery of the possession of said demised premises, or for the breach of any of the terms, conditions or covenants of this lease, wherein said Lessor shall prevail, said Lessee shall pay to said Lessor a reasonable sum as and for attorney's fees therein, the amount of which shall be determined by the court in such suit and added to and become part of the judgment therein."
In 2010, plaintiff filed this unlawful detainer action against defendants, seeking possession of the premises, past due rent, and reasonable attorney fees.*fn2 Defendants answered, and raised various affirmative defenses.
Simultaneous with their trial brief, defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, asserting that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter as a summary unlawful detainer action because plaintiff failed to allege nonpayment of rent within the year prior to filing (Code Civ. Proc., § 1161, subd. (2) [three-day notice to quit "may be served at any time within one year after the rent becomes due"]), and sought late payment fees and interest not recoverable under the lease.
The court granted defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings without leave to amend, and ruled defendants were entitled to attorney fees, in an amount to be determined.
Defendants filed a memorandum of costs, and a noticed motion seeking an award of $18,576 in attorney fees. In support of the motion, defendants submitted detailed invoices prepared by the law firm representing them, the resumes of the attorneys performing work on the matter, and a declaration by one attorney describing the work performed, his experience, and billing rate.
Plaintiff opposed the motion on the grounds the original lease provided only for his recovery of attorney fees, and the attorney fees sought were unreasonable because the lawsuit was relatively ...