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Randall Tyson v. Wells Fargo Bank N.A. et al

July 31, 2012

RANDALL TYSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK N.A. ET AL., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES [Doc. No. 19]

BACKGROUND

This action arises out of a secured loan made on February 22, 2006, by World Savings Bank, FSB ("World Savings") to Plaintiff Randall Tyson, and his wife, Gail Tyson to finance the purchase of real property located at 3535 Pine Avenue, in Long Beach, California 90807. [Request for Judicial Notice "RJN", Doc. No. 19-4, Exh. B.] Plaintiff defaulted on the loan and as a result, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo"), as the successor to World Savings, initiated foreclosure proceedings and the property was subsequently sold at foreclosure sale.

On May 31, 2011, Plaintiff commenced a civil action in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Tyson v. World Savings Bank, FSB, et al., NC056109 challenging the foreclosure of his property. [RJN, Exh. D.] The action was removed to the United States District Court, Central District of California, and subsequently remanded. On January 10, 2012, the superior court sustained Wells Fargo's demurrers to all but one of Plaintiff's causes of action and granted leave to amend solely with respect to his cause of action for promissory estoppel. On February 9, 2012, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") and Wells Fargo demurrered to the FAC. [RJN. Exh. E.] Plaintiff did not oppose Wells Fargo's demurrer and on March 15, 2012, the superior court sustained Wells Fargo's demurrer to the FAC without leave to amend.

On March 9, 2012, prior to the superior court's hearing on Wells Fargo's demurrer, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this action against Defendants Wells Fargo, NDEx West LLC, Ross M. Klein, O. Andrew Wheaton, and Robert T. Lane. [Complaint, Doc. No. 1.] The complaint alleges causes of action for: (1) breach of contract, impaired covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (2) fraud and misrepresentation; (3) usury and misrepresentation; (4) wrongful foreclosure; and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff's allegations arise out of the loan transaction and the subsequent superior court foreclosure action and seek to hold Wells Fargo liable for its failure to fund the underlying loan with silver or gold. [See id.] Plaintiff also named the superior court judge presiding over the superior court action (Hon. Ross M. Klein), the attorney who represented Wells Fargo in the superior court action (O. Andrew Wheaton) and the attorney who represented Wells Fargo in an unlawful detainer proceeding against Plaintiff (Robert Lane).

In response to the complaint, each Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint or joined another Defendant's motion. [Doc. Nos. 5, 6, 8, 11.] Plaintiff did not file a timely opposition to the motions and the Court ultimately granted all of Defendants' motions and dismissed Plaintiff's action with prejudice. [Doc. No. 17.] On June 13, 2012, Defendants Wells Fargo Bank N.A. and O. Andrew Wheaton ("Moving Defendants") filed the pending motion for attorneys' fees. [Doc. No. 19.]

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Moving Defendants filed a Request for Judicial Notice concurrently with their motion for attorneys' fees, requesting the Court take judicial notice of certain public documents related to this action, the subject property, and Plaintiff's prior lawsuit. [Doc. No. 19-4.] A district court may take notice of facts not subject to reasonable dispute that are "capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." FED. R. EVID. 201(b); United States v. Bernal-Obeso, 989 F.2d 331, 333 (9th Cir. 1993). This includes matters of public record found outside of the pleadings, such as court records, orders, and other documents related to the proceeding. See MGIC Indem. Co. v. Weisman, 803 F.2d 500, 505 (9th Cir. 1986); United States v. Wilson, 631 F.2d 118, 119 (9th Cir. 1980).

The public documents relating to the subject property are not subject to reasonable dispute and are proper subjects of judicial notice. Courts have taken judicial notice of nearly identical documents. See e.g. Rodriguez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145174 (N.D. Cal. 2011) (taking judicial notice of deed of trust, notice of default, and notice of trustee's sale). Likewise, the Court may take judicial notice of the court documents pertaining to Plaintiff's superior court action because they are matters of public record and are related to the proceeding. Accordingly, Moving Defendants' Request for Judicial Notice is GRANTED with respect to the documents relating to the subject property and Plaintiff's previous superior court action. However, the Court need not take judicial notice of the judgment entered in the instant case, as it is a fact of the case.

LEGAL STANDARD

"In an action where a federal district court exercises subject matter jurisdiction over a state law claim, so long as state law does not contradict a valid federal statute, state law denying the right to attorney's fees or giving a right thereto . . . should be followed." Avery v. First Resolution Management Corp., 568 F.3d 1018, 1023 (9th Cir. 2009)(citing MRO Communications, Inc. v. AT&T Co., 197 F.3d 1276, 1281 (9th Cir. 1999) (holding state law controls entitlement to attorneys' fees if the district court exercises subject matter jurisdiction over a state law claim)).

California permits parties to allocate attorneys' fees by contract. See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 1021 ("Except as attorney's fees are specifically provided for by statute, the measure and mode of compensation of attorneys and counselors at law is left to the agreement, express or implied, of the parties .."). When attorneys' fees are to be awarded pursuant to a contractual agreement, the party requesting attorneys' fees must demonstrate that the fee award is authorized by the contract, they are the prevailing party, and that the fees requested are reasonable. Cal. Civ. Code § 1717*fn1 ; see also LaFarge Conseils et Etudes, S.A. v. Kaiser Cement & Gypsum Corp., 791 F.2d 1334, 1339 (9th Cir. 1986). California Code of Civil Procedure section 1032(b) confirms that, "Except as otherwise expressly provided by statute, a prevailing party is entitled as a matter of right to recover costs in any action or proceeding." California Code of Civil Procedure section 1033.5(a) specifies that attorneys' fees, when authorized by contract, are allowable as costs under Section 1032.

"[U]nder California statutory and Supreme Court law, prevailing parties are entitled to contractual attorneys fees as a matter of right and district courts have no discretion to deny such fees." Omega v. Wells Fargo & Co., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98399 (N.D. Cal. June 25, 2012) (citing Hsu v. ...


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