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Lemon Law Fees Approved By Southern District Court

May 29, 2018 | Posted by James P. Leonard | Topics: Product Liability, Warranty

After settling the underlying warranty claims, a dispute arose between the parties related to attorneys’ fees.  Ultimately, plaintiff filed a petition for fees and costs, which was recently decided by U.S. Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo.  Of likely interest to companies faced with California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (“Song-Beverly”) matters, Judge Gallo approved an hourly rate of $500 for plaintiff’s counsel.

As for the fee motion, plaintiff’s counsel sought $20,300 in attorney’s fees and $531.21 in costs, which was calculated based on 40.6 hours of work at a rate of $500 an hour.  The defendant argued the attorney’s fees sought were inflated because plaintiff’s counsel was inefficient and the hourly rate was unreasonably high.  The defendant also pushed for an hourly rate of $460, not $500.  While court only awarded $18,431, it found that the hourly rate of $500 an hour was reasonable given plaintiff’s counsel’s experience, the tasks completed, and the hourly rate was similar to rates deemed reasonable in other similar matters.  Further, while the court agreed that $460 per hour was reasonable, $500 was within the range of reasonableness.  (See Floyd Anderson v BMW of North America, LLC, Case 3:18-cv-00057-WVG, (S.D. Cal. 2018.)

This case should serve as a reminder to companies mired in Song-Beverly litigation that while the prevailing party is only entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees, California courts will likely find that $500 an hour is reasonable, and as such, attorneys’ fees in these types of cases can quickly escalate.