Superior Court of California, Appellate Division, Los Angeles
from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County
Central Trial Court No. 14U06637, Robert S. Harrison,
J. Bramzon, Ross T. Kutash and Claudia Medina of BASTA, Inc.
for Defendant and Appellant.
Offices of Dennis P. Block & Associates and Dennis P.
Block for Plaintiff and Respondent.
KUMAR, Acting P. J.
Defendant and appellant Miguel Gonzales appeals the
court’s denial of his motion for attorney fees after
the voluntary dismissal by plaintiff and respondent
Intelligent Investments Corporation of its unlawful detainer
action. Defendant contends he was entitled to attorney fees
pursuant to the fee shifting provision under Los Angeles
Municipal Code (LAMC) section 162.09.A.5, which applies to
unlawful detainer actions involving property in the City of
Los Angeles’s Rent Escrow Account Program
(REAP), and therefore Civil Code section 1717, subdivision
(b)(2),  did not bar recovery of fees. We agree
and reverse the order.
June 2, 2014, plaintiff filed an unlawful detainer action
against defendant based on service of a three-day notice to
perform covenants or quit. Attached to the complaint was a
rental contract for the subject premises executed by
defendant and landlord Gumersindo Bautista. Defendant
answered the following week, generally denying each
allegation in the complaint and asserting several affirmative
defenses, including breach of the warranty of habitability,
violation of the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance,
and retaliation. Two weeks later, plaintiff voluntarily
dismissed the action.
July 25, 2014, defendant filed a motion for attorney fees.
Defendant argued the property was in REAP when plaintiff
commenced the unlawful detainer action and that, pursuant to
LAMC section 162.09.A.5, he was entitled to attorney fees as
the prevailing party. In support of his motion, defendant
submitted: a declaration stating he normally paid his rent to
REAP; documentation showing plaintiff had notice the property
was in REAP as of December 19, 2013; and receipts dated May
6, 2014, and June 2, 2014, reflecting payments defendant made
to the REAP account.
September 2, 2014, the court denied defendant’s motion
on the ground he had no ...