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Hill v. Affirmed Housing Group

California Court of Appeals, Sixth District

June 9, 2014

JAMES C. HILL et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
AFFIRMED HOUSING GROUP et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Superior Court No. 1-07-CV087095 Hon. James P. Kleinberg

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1194

COUNSEL

Paul J. Derania and Scott S. Furstman for Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Incorvaia & Associates Joel L. Incorvaia and G. Ehrich Lenz for Defendant and Respondent Affirmed Housing Group.

No appearance for Defendant and Respondent San Jose Family Housing Partners, LLC.

OPINION

PREMO, J.

Plaintiffs James C. Hill and Dawn L. Hill as trustees under a revocable trust dated February 17, 1977 (the Hills) appeal from a postjudgment order awarding contractual attorney fees to Affirmed Housing Group (Affirmed) under Civil Code section 1717. We find no abuse of discretion and affirm.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

In the underlying suit, the Hills sued San Jose Family Housing Partners, LLC (LLC) and Affirmed, a managing member of LLC, for alleged violations of a written easement agreement.[1] LLC and Affirmed (collectively defendants) were jointly represented by the law firm of Incorvaia & Associates at a bench trial on the Hills’ claims. In their joint trial brief, defendants argued that, under Corporations Code section former 17101,

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Affirmed could not be liable for LLC’s actions solely because of its status as a member of LLC. Defendants also jointly argued that the easement could not lawfully be enforced and, in any event, they had not violated the easement.

The trial court ruled that Affirmed was immune from suit under Corporations Code former section 17101, noting that the Hills had presented no evidence to show that Affirmed engaged in any conduct outside of its capacity as a member of LLC. As to LLC, the court rejected the illegality defense and concluded LCC had violated the easement agreement. Following entry of judgment in its favor, Affirmed moved to recover attorney fees and costs pursuant to Civil Code section 1717. The trial court denied that motion on two independent grounds: (1) Affirmed ...


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