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Karapetian v. Kia Motors Am., Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 22, 2013

MAMIKON KARAPETIAN, Plaintiff,
v.
KIA MOTORS AMERICA, INC., Defendant

Decided December 20, 2013.

Page 1033

For Mamikon Karapetian, Plaintiff: Lucy Kasparian, LEAD ATTORNEY, Glendale, CA; Martin W Anderson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Anderson Law Firm, Santa Ana, CA.

For Kia Motors America Inc, Defendant: Anthony E Sonnett, Jocelyn A Julian, LEAD ATTORNEYS, LEWIS, BRISBOIS, BISGAARD & SMITH, LLP, Los Angeles, CA.

OPINION

Page 1034

ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION ON REMAND FOR AN ORDER REIMBURSING PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY FEES, COURT COSTS, AND LITIGATION EXPENSES AND GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES ON APPEAL

CORMAC J. CARNEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

INTRODUCTION

This is a lemon law case involving a car purchased in 2004. The case settled for approximately $16,000 in restitution for Mr. Karapetian's 2004 Kia Sedona and $16,000 in incidental damages. Plaintiff Mamikon Karapetian now seeks an award of $215,336.73 in attorneys' fees and costs as the prevailing party under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. On November 18, 2010, the Court ruled on Mr. Karapetian's first motion for attorneys' fees. (Dkt. No. 103 [" Nov. 18, 2010 Order" ].) After considering the evidence and arguments of counsel, the Court concluded that the parties' February 2010 settlement was essentially the same, in relative terms, as Defendant Kia Motors America, Inc.'s (" Kia" ) offer pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 almost a year and a half earlier and prior to the time that Mr. Karapetian's attorneys incurred the substantial majority of the fees he then requested. ( See id. at 1-2.) Because the Court found that Mr. Karapetian's continued litigation of the case following Kia's November 2008 offer was unreasonable, the Court held that Mr. Karapetian was entitled only to attorneys' fees incurred prior to that point.

In particular, the Court found that both the February 2010 settlement and Kia's November 2008 offer provided for full restitution and repurchase of Mr. Karapetian's

Page 1035

vehicle. ( Id. at 7.) As to incidental damages, the Court found that both Kia's November 2008 offer and the February 2010 settlement permitted Mr. Karapetian to recover incidental damages according to proof. ( Id. ) Following the parties' February 2010 settlement, Mr. Karapetian offered proof of incidental damages to Kia and Kia agreed to pay him approximately $14,000 in incidental damages according to his proof. ( Id. at 7 n.3.) The Court found that to the extent the $14,000 in incidental damages as of February 2010 was greater than Mr. Karapetian would have received under Kia's November 2008 offer, that was necessarily so because Mr. Karapetian refused Kia's November 2008 offer and continued to make payments on the car loan, incur interest, and suffer incidental damages during the approximately 15 months between November 2008 and February 2010. ( Id. at 7-8.) Of course, the amount of incidental damages according to proof as of November 2008 was never determined by the parties or the Court because Mr. Karapetian did not accept Kia's November 2008 offer.

Mr. Karapetian appealed, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded. See Karapetian v. Kia Motors Am., Inc., 539 F. App'x 814, 2013 WL 4713914, at *2 (9th Cir. 2013). The Ninth Circuit found that " [n]othing in the 2008 offer suggests that K[ia] would have paid $14,000 in incidental damages." [WL] at *2. The Ninth Circuit did not address this Court's conclusion that any difference in the amount of incidental damages according to proof in November 2008 and the amount of incidental damages according to proof in February 2010 was a function of the continuing accrual of incidental damages over the 15 months. The Ninth Circuit further concluded that the " additional $14,000 [Mr.] Karapetian recovered under the 2010 settlement is substantial." Id. Based on these findings, the Ninth Circuit remanded the matter to this Court " to calculate an appropriate award of attorneys' fees" consistent with its disposition and California Civil Code section 1794(d). Separately, the Ninth Circuit transferred Mr. Karapetian's motion before it for attorneys' fees on appeal to this Court. ( See Dkt. No. 119.) Mr. Karapetian now moves on remand for attorneys' fees and costs incurred at the District Court; in the same motion, he also seeks attorneys' fees incurred on appeal. (Dkt. No. 123.)

Having considered the parties' evidence and arguments, and in light of the Ninth Circuit's remand order, the Court concludes that Mr. Karapetian is entitled to fees for a substantial portion of the time expended by his attorneys. The Court has identified numerous billing entries, however, that were not reasonably incurred. Accordingly, Mr. Karapetian's motion for attorneys' fees and ...


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