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Chamberlin v. Charat

United States District Court, S.D. California

August 31, 2017

WINTHROP D. CHAMBERLIN, Plaintiffs,
v.
PHILIPPE CHARAT, Defendant.

          MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES, COSTS, AND POSTJUDGMENT INTEREST [DOC. NO. 18.]

          WILLIAM V. GALLO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees, costs, and post-judgment interest. (Doc. No. 18.) Defendant has not filed a response or opposition to the motion. Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(d)(1), the Court finds this matter suitable for decision without oral argument.[1] Good cause appearing, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion in its entirety and enters an amended judgment accordingly.

         A. Background

         In or about September 2006, Defendant Charat, for valuable consideration, made, executed, and delivered to Plaintiffs a promissory note (“Note”), dated September 2006, in the aggregate principal sum of $315, 000.00, payable to Plaintiffs. (Doc. No. 3, Consent of Defendant Philippe Charat to Entry of Final Judgment (“Consent”) at ¶ 2.a.) Charat defaulted in the due and punctual payment of the amounts owed under the Note. (Id. at ¶¶ 2.c. and 2.d.)

         On January 7, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Charat for breach of the Note. (Doc. No. 1.) On January 8, 2013, Plaintiffs filed Charat's notarized Consent. (Doc. No. 3.) In the Consent, Charat admitted the allegations of the Complaint, consented to entry of final judgment, and agreed to this Court retaining jurisdiction over this matter for the purpose of enforcing the terms of the final judgment. (Id. at ¶¶ 2, 3, 12.)

         On March 5, 2013, this Court entered Final Judgment (“Judgment”) in favor of Plaintiffs and against Charat in the total amount of $401, 571.08, plus post-judgment interest at the lawful rate from the date of entry of the Judgment, along with all costs allowable to a judgment creditor. (Doc. No. 7.) According to Plaintiffs, Charat has paid Plaintiffs a total of $30, 000.00 of the amount due under the Judgment.

         Since the date of entry of the Judgment, Plaintiffs, by and through their counsel, have taken steps to enforce and collect on the Judgment.

         B. Plaintiffs' Entitlement To Reasonable Attorneys' Fees And Costs

         In an action involving state law claims, the Court applies the law of the forum state to determine whether a party is entitled to attorneys' fees, unless that law conflicts with a valid federal statute or procedural rule. MRO Commc'ns, Inc. v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 197 F.3d 1276, 1282 (9th Cir. 1999). California's Enforcement of Judgments Law, codified as California Code of Civil Procedure section 680.010 et seq., is a comprehensive statutory scheme governing the enforcement of all civil judgments in California. Bisno v. Kahn, 170 Cal.Rptr.3d 709, 726 (Cal.Ct.App. 2014).

         Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure sections 685.040 and 1033.5(a)(10) and California Civil Code section 1717, a party may recover attorneys' fees incurred in enforcing a judgment when, as here, the judgment creditor was entitled to attorneys' fees in the underlying action pursuant to Civil Code section 1717. Carnes v. Zamani, 488 F.3d 1057, 1060 (9th Cir. 2007).

         Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 685.040, Plaintiffs are entitled to recover their reasonable post-judgment attorneys' fees and costs incurred in enforcing the Judgment. As part of the original Judgment, the Court awarded Plaintiffs $10, 418.75 for their “reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs” as well as “all costs allowable to a judgment creditor.” (Doc. No. 7.) Plaintiffs properly were awarded such attorneys' fees and costs because the Note provided that Charat “shall pay . . . all reasonable attorneys' and court or arbitration costs and expenses and collection fees[.]” (Complaint ¶ 21 (Doc. No. 1); Consent ¶¶ 2-3 (Doc. No. 7).) Plaintiffs are the prevailing parties because the Judgment, to which Charat consented, was entered in favor of Plaintiffs and against Charat in the amount of $401, 571.08. See United States v. KISAQ-RQ 8A 2 JV, No. 13-CV-469-HRL, 2015 WL 5935364, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 13, 2015) (citing Cal. Civ. Code § 1717).

         Plaintiffs now seek reasonable attorneys' fees in the amount of $75, 469.00 incurred between August 5, 2015 and July 31, 2017. The Court finds that each of the following attorney rates and time spent in enforcing the Judgment are reasonable and just under the circumstances:

Attorney

Position

Rate

Hours

Total Fee

David R. Scheidemantle

President and Managing Partner

$500.00

2.10

$1, 050.00

Joshua J. Pollack

Partner

$500.00

79.60

$39, 800.00

Karine Akopchikyan

Attorney

$250.00

112.00

$28, 175.00

Fernando Perez Correa Camarena

Partner

$440.00

0.90

$396.00

Jose Covarrubias Azuela

Partner

$360.00

4.20

$1, 512.00

Fernando Sánchez Morales

Attorney

$240.00

18.90

$4, 536.00

218.40

$75, 469.00

         1. Reasonableness of Plaintiffs' Requested ...


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