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Javaheri v. Deutsche Mellon National Asset, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

January 9, 2020

DARYOUSH JAVAHERI, Plaintiff,
v.
DEUTSCHE MELLON NATIONAL ASSET, LLC et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES [29]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On April 8, 2019, the Court granted a motion to dismiss filed by defendant U.S. Bank Trust, N.A., as Trustee for LSF9 Master Protection Trust (“Defendant”) and entered judgment on April 15, 2019 against plaintiff Daryoush Javaheri (“Plaintiff”). Defendant now moves for attorneys' fees in the amount of $13, 846. For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendant's Motion for Attorneys' Fees (“Motion”). (Mot., ECF No. 29).

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Court has recited the facts of this case extensively in its Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice (“Order”) and incorporates that discussion here by reference. (See Order, ECF No. 25.)

         Briefly, Plaintiff borrowed $2, 660, 000 secured by a Deed of Trust against property located at 10809 Wellworth, Los Angeles CA (the “Property”). (See Def.'s Req. for Judicial Notice (“RJN”) in Support of Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 11.) After Plaintiff defaulted on the loan, the Property was sold at public auction on May 31, 2016 with Defendant becoming the owner, and on June 9, 2016, a Trustee's Deed Upon Sale was recorded against the Property evidencing the foreclosure sale. (Id.) Following a lengthy procedural history and multiple judgments recounted in this Court's April 8, 2019 Order, Plaintiff again sued Defendant on June 14, 2018, asserting the following claims: (1) wrongful foreclosure; (2) to set aside trustee's sale; (3) to void or cancel trustee's deed upon sale; (4) to void or cancel assignment of deed of trust; (5) quiet title; and (6) relief for eviction and related relief. (See generally Compl., ECF No. 1-1.)

         On April 8, 2019, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims with prejudice based on Defendant's successful invocation of res judicata. (See Order.) The Court entered judgment on April 15, 2019, and Defendant timely filed the Motion on April 22, 2019 seeking attorneys' fees under the promissory note (“Note”).[1] (J., ECF No. 28; Mot.) On May 13, 2019, The Court deemed adjudication of the Motion appropriate without oral argument and therefore vacated the May 20, 2019 hearing. (ECF No. 30.) Plaintiff then filed an untimely opposition (“Opposition”) on May 17, 2019. (See Opp'n, ECF No. 31.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Motion for Attorneys' Fees Pursuant to Contract.

         “Under California law, a prevailing party is ordinarily not entitled to attorneys' fees unless the parties have previously agreed to shift fees or the fees are otherwise provided by statute.” In re Bennett, 298 F.3d 1059, 1070 (9th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted). “California Civil Code § 1717(a) provides for the awarding of attorney's fees in the case of a contract.” Orange v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., No. EDCV 12-01683 VAP, 2013 WL 7869377, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 23, 2013). Section 1717(a) states:

In any action on a contract, where the contract specifically provides that attorney's fees and costs, which are incurred to enforce that contract, shall be awarded either to one of the parties or to the prevailing party, then the party who is determined to be the party prevailing on the contract, whether he or she is the party specified in the contract or not shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees in addition to other costs.

Cal. Civ. Code § 1717(a); see also Cal. Civ. Proc. Code §§ 1021, 1033.5(a).

         A party seeking recovery of attorneys' fees under Section 1717(a) must show that: (1) a contract authorizes such fees; (2) the moving party is the prevailing party; and (3) the fees incurred are reasonable. Johnston v. Lindauer, No. 2:07-CV-01280, 2010 WL 2850767, at *4 (E.D. Cal. July 20, 2010) (citing First Nat. Ins. Co. of Am. v. MBA Const., No. 02:04-CV-836 GEB-JFM, 2005 WL 3406336, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 12, 2005). Moreover, “to recover fees incurred in connection with litigation of a claim under a fee shifting contract, a party must show that the claim fell within the scope of the contract…” Boza v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, No. 12-cv-06993JAKFMOX, 2013 WL 12136517, at *3 (C.D. Cal. July 25, 2013), aff'd sub nom. Boza v. U.S. Bank NA (Two Cases), 606 Fed.Appx. 357 (9th Cir. 2015) (quoting Baldain v. Am. Home Mortg. Servicing, Inc., No. CIV.S-09-0931LKK/GGH, 2010 WL 2606666, at *5 (E.D. Cal. June 28, 2010).

         IV. ...


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