United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES AND
A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Arias and Javier Arias (“Plaintiffs”) request
$120, 103.25 in attorney's fees and costs resulting from
the settlement of their claims against FCA U.S. LLC.
(“Defendant”) for violation of statutory
obligations. Mot., ECF No. 42. Plaintiffs seek these
attorney's fees and costs pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code
§ 1794(d) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1)-(2). Id.
For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and
DENIES IN PART Plaintiffs' motion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
January 11, 2017, Plaintiffs sued Defendant under the
Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, Cal. Civ. Code §
1790, et seq., and Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C.
§ 2301, et seq., for defects that arose in their 2015
Jeep Cherokee. See Notice of Removal Ex. A, ECF No. 1.
Following approximately one and a half years of litigation,
the parties settled. See ECF No. 37. The Court granted the
parties 90 days to resolve all terms of the agreement,
including the issue of attorney's fees and costs. Order,
ECF No. 38. Unable to reach an agreement with Defendant,
Plaintiffs now move for an award of attorney's fees and
costs. Mot., ECF No. 42. Defendant opposes this motion.
Opp'n, ECF No. 44.
courts follow the forum state's law for awarding
attorney's fees when exercising their diversity
jurisdiction over state-law claims. Close v.
Sotheby's Inc., 909 F.3d 1204, 1208 (9th Cir. 2018).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2) merely sets the
procedure for claiming attorney's fees. See MRO
Commc'ns, Inc. v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 197 F.3d
1276, 1281 (9th Cir. 1999). Thus, section 1794(d) of the
Song-Beverly Act governs here. It provides that the
prevailing party shall be allowed to recover attorney's
fees “based on actual time expended, determined by the
court to have been reasonably incurred by the buyer in
connection with the commencement and prosecution of such
action.” Cal. Civ. Code § 1794(d) (emphasis
prevailing party bears the burden of demonstrating that the
fees were: (1) allowable; (2) reasonably necessary to the
conduct of the litigation; and (3) reasonable in amount.
Nightingale v. Hyundai Motor Am., 31 Cal.App.4th 99,
104 (Ct. App. 1994) (internal citations omitted). The court
retains discretion to reduce the fee award where fees were
not reasonably incurred. See Ketchum v. Moses, 24
Cal.App.4th 1122, 1132 (Cal. 2001).
“lodestar method” is the primary method for
determining the reasonableness of an attorney's fee
request under the Song-Beverly Act. Id. at 1135.
Pursuant to that method, attorney's fee awards are
computed in a two-step process. First, the court calculates
the lodestar: the “the number of hours reasonably
expended multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate.”
Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Cty. of San
Bernardino, 188 Cal.App.4th 603, 616 (Ct. App. 2010), as
modified (Oct. 18, 2010). “Generally, the reasonable
hourly rate used for the lodestar calculation is that
prevailing in the community for similar work.”
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
court may then increase or decrease the lodestar calculation
amount based on factors such as “the novelty and
difficulty of the issues, the attorneys' skill in
presenting the issues, the extent to which the case precluded
the attorneys from accepting other work, and the contingent
nature of the work.” Id. at 772-73. “The
purpose of such adjustment is to fix a fee at the fair market
value for the particular action.” Ketchum, 24
Cal.App.4th at 1132. The party seeking attorney's fees
bears the burden of proving that its requested fees are
reasonable. Ctr. for Biological Diversity, 188 Cal.App.4th at
Hours Reasonably Expended
submits “Time Records, ” itemizing the time spent
by attorney Jill Harris on this case. Pl.'s Ex. J, ECF
No. 42. The Court finds that not all of the hours
Plaintiffs' counsel billed are reasonable.
Plaintiffs' counsel “anticipates” an
additional eight hours will be spent reviewing
Defendant's opposition, drafting the reply, and attending
a motion on the hearing. Mem. ECF No. 41 at 3. There was no
hearing on this motion and Plaintiffs replied to
Defendant's opposition in seven brief paragraphs. See
Reply, ECF No. 46. Thus, the Court strikes the hours billed
for the cancelled hearing from the fee award. See, e.g.,
Johnson v. Yates, No. ...