California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division
HIGHLAND SPRINGS CONFERENCE AND TRAINING CENTER et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
CITY OF BANNING, Defendant and Respondent; SCC Acquisitions, Inc., et al., Real Parties in Interest and Respondents.
Cal.Rptr.3d 333] APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside
County. Thomas H. Cahraman, Judge. Reversed with directions.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Carstens & Minteer, Joshua R. Chatten-Brown and Jan
Chatten-Brown, Santa Monica, for Plaintiff and Appellant
Highland Springs Conference and Training Center.
McClendon & Mann and John G. McClendon, Irvine, for Plaintiff
and Appellant Banning Bench Community of Interest
& Wynder and Anthony R. Taylor, Irvine and Stephen R. Onstot,
for Defendant and Respondent.
Cook & Thel, Francis T. Donohue III, Newport Beach; Bruce V.
Cook and Andrew P. Cook, Irvine, for Real Parties in Interest
RAMIREZ P. J.
Plaintiffs and appellants, Highland Springs Conference and
Training Center (Highland Springs) and Banning Bench
Community of Interest Association (Banning Bench), appeal
from the August 3 and 4, 2017, orders limiting the attorney
fees plaintiffs could recover from real parties in interest,
SCC/Black Bench LLC (SCC/BB) and SCC Acquisitions, Inc.
(SCCA). In cost memoranda, and again in duplicative fee
motions, plaintiffs sought to recover fees they incurred in
successfully pursuing a motion to amend their October 2008
judgments against SCC/BB, to add SCCA to the October 2008
judgments as an additional judgment debtor. We reverse and
remand the matter to the court with directions to redetermine
the amount of each plaintiff’s fee award.
Cal.Rptr.3d 334] II. BACKGROUND
April 2008, a judgment was entered in favor of plaintiffs
against defendant and respondent, City of Banning (the City),
and SCC/BB, on plaintiffs’ writ petitions challenging the
City’s certification of an environmental impact report for a
development project known as the Black Bench project.
(Highland Springs, supra, 244 Cal.App.4th at p. 272, 199
Cal.Rptr.3d 226.) SCC/BB was
the only named real party in interest in the writ petitions.
In October 2008, the court awarded Highland Springs
$421,819.96, and awarded Banning Bench $288,920.01, in costs
and attorney fees against SCC/BB. (Code Civ. Proc., � � 1032,
end of 2008, SCC/BB lost the Black Bench property in
foreclosure and had exhausted around $14 million in capital.
(Highland Springs, supra, 244 Cal.App.4th at pp.
272, 277, 199 Cal.Rptr.3d 226.) SCC/BB appealed the April
2008 judgment, but its appeal was dismissed in September 2008
after it failed to deposit the costs of preparing the record
on appeal. (Id. at p. 272, 199 Cal.Rptr.3d 226.) In October
2012, plaintiffs filed an alter ego motion, under section
187, seeking to add SCCA to the April 2008 and October 2008
judgments as an additional judgment debtor, and thus render
SCCA liable, along with SCC/BB, for paying plaintiffs’
attorney fees and costs awards against SCC/BB. The court
denied the alter ego motion on the sole ground that
plaintiffs failed to act with diligence in bringing the
motion, and plaintiffs appealed. (Id. at p. 273, 199
Highland Springs, this court reversed the order
denying the alter ego motion. (Highland Springs,
supra, 244 Cal.App.4th at p. 273, 199 Cal.Rptr.3d 226.)
This court concluded that the motion was erroneously denied
based on plaintiffs’ delay in bringing it, because SCCA did
not show it had been prejudiced by the delay. Thus, SCCA did
not meet its burden of showing that the alter ego motion was
barred by laches. (Id. at pp. 273, 282-289, 199 Cal.Rptr.3d
226.) The matter was remanded to the court to determine
whether plaintiffs had proved their alter ego claim against
SCCA. (Id. at pp. 289-290, 199 Cal.Rptr.3d 226.) SCC/BB did
not appear in Highland Springs. (Id. at p. 272, 199
Cal.Rptr.3d 226.) The remittitur issued on May 3,
Following further trial court proceedings on the alter ego
motion between plaintiffs and SCCA, on February 8, 2017, the
court entered a judgment in favor of plaintiffs on the
motion, adjudicating SCCA to be SCC/BB’s alter ego and
amending the October 2008 judgments against SCC/BB to add
SCCA to those judgments as an additional judgment debtor.
February 9, 2017, notice of entry of the February 8, 2017,
judgment was served, and each plaintiff filed a memorandum
[255 Cal.Rptr.3d 335] of costs after judgment (� 685.070)
seeking fees and costs incurred in having successfully
the alter ego motion. In its cost memorandum, Highland
Springs sought $446,710 in fees incurred between July 2012
and February 2017, plus $815.53 in costs. In its cost
memorandum, Banning Bench sought $216,545 in fees incurred
between January 2009 and January 2017, plus $320.38 in costs.
On February 17, 2017, SCC/BB filed motions to tax each cost
memorandum, and SCCA later joined SCC/BB’s motions to tax.
April 10, 2017, each plaintiff filed a motion for attorney
fees, seeking the same fees listed in their cost memoranda,
plus additional fees. In its fee motion, Highland Springs
sought $737,870.25 in fees ($490,698.50 in lodestar fees
[hours worked times hourly rates] times a multiplier of 1.5),
plus fees not yet incurred in bringing the fee motion.
Banning Bench sought $536,454.39 in fees and costs (including
$324,817.50 in lodestar fees, multiplied by 1.5), plus fees
not yet incurred in bringing the fee motion. Each fee motion
stated that it was being brought pursuant to sections 685.040
to 685.080 of the Enforcement of Judgments Law (the EJL) (�
680.010 et seq.) and section 1021.5. On May 10, 2017, SCC/BB
and SCCA filed a joint opposition to the fee motions.
Bench moved to strike SCC/BB’s and SCCA’s motions to tax and
also filed a motion for sanctions against counsel for SCC/BB
and SCCA. (� � 128.5, 128.7.) Banning Bench claimed that
SCC/BB’s counsel had wrongfully caused SCC/BB to file the
motions to tax, despite knowing that SCC/BB ...