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Hyundai Motor America v. Superior Court (Rosen)

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Third Division

March 20, 2015

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA, Petitioner,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF ORANGE COUNTY, Respondent, ADAM ROSEN, Real Party in Interest.

Original proceedings; petition for a writ of mandate to challenge an order of the Superior Court of Orange County, No. 30-2013-00627447 Kirk H. Nakamura, Judge.

Page 419

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 420

COUNSEL

Beatty & Myers, Sean D. Beatty, John W. Myers IV and Katrina J. Walasik for Petitioner.

No appearance for Respondent.

Anderson Law Firm and Martin W. Anderson for Real Party in Interest.

OPINION

THE COURT[*]

“Nature, not judges, should be in charge of making mountains out of mole hills.” (Crum v. City of Stockton (1979) 96 Cal.App.3d 519, 524 [157 Cal.Rptr. 823] (cone. & dis. opn. of Reynoso, J.).)

This writ petition came to this court on a request by petitioner Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) to stay a scheduled judgment debtor examination of its president and chief executive officer over a dispute regarding an attempt by real party in interest Adam Rosen (Rosen) to collect supposed postjudgment interest of $462.50 on an attorney fee award of $42, 203.

Page 421

Hyundai promptly paid the entire fee award, but refused to pay any additional sums for interest. Rosen accepted the tendered amount but deducted $462.50 as an interest payment, allegedly leaving part of the principal balance unpaid. From this initial $462.50, Rosen now claims that Hyundai owes more than $13, 000 for additional interest and attorney fees in less than a six-month period - one of the best growth investments we have seen.

There is a short answer to Rosen’s claim for postjudgment interest: the attorney fee order was filed months before the entry of the final judgment in this matter. By law, postjudgment interest accrues in lemon-law cases at the time the final judgment is entered. (Code Civ. Proc., § 685.020; Civ. Code, § 1794, subd. (d).) When respondent court filed and entered its final judgment on November 21, 2014, Rosen’s attorney fee award had long been paid. As a result, Rosen is not entitled to postjudgment interest of $462.50, or in any amount.

I

Statement of Facts and Procedural History

A. Hyundai’s Statutory Offer and First Payment of $36, 484 to Rosen

In July 2010, Rosen bought a 2010 Hyundai Tucson for $29, 455. In January 2013, Rosen filed a lemon law action against Hyundai under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (Civ. Code, § 1790 et seq.; Song-Beverly Act), alleging various defects, including engine hesitancy, jerkiness and sudden and unexpected stops. Rosen sought a refund for the car, and civil penalties, as well as attorney fees and prejudgment interest.

In August 2013, Hyundai served Rosen with a statutory offer to compromise pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 998 (section 998). In exchange for the return of the vehicle with clear title and dismissal of the action with prejudice, Hyundai agreed to pay Rosen $20, 095 and the lien holder $12, 157, for a total payment of $32, 252, as well as any additional actual payment for registration fees or rental car expenses, “if different.” Hyundai also offered to pay Rosen’s “reasonably incurred attorney’s fees and court costs to be determined by the court on noticed motion.”

Rosen filed a notice of acceptance, but also applied for the entry of a judgment against Hyundai. Rosen submitted a proposed judgment to respondent court for its signature. Hyundai objected, claiming a section ...


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