Chen v. Valstock Ventures, LLC (2022) 81 Cal.App.5th 197. The trial court had awarded contractual attorneys’ fees under Civil Code § 1717 following an order granting summary adjudication (not summary judgment) on a contract claim. Other claims, however, remained in the case, and so the case wasn’t over. The court of appeal reversed the trial court decision holding that the fee order was premature and Civil Code § 1717 doesn’t permit fee awards based on interim resolutions of contract claims, but contemplates that the award of fees, like other costs, only comes at the conclusion of the litigation.
Friend of Camden, Inc. v. Brandt (2022) 81 Cal.App.5th 1054. This was sort of an odd situation involving a limited liability company and the dissolution statutes. Plaintiff owned a 1% interest in a limited liability company and he filed a lawsuit seeking judicial dissolution under Corporations Code § 17707.03. Fifty percent of the other members of the LLC filed a motion to avoid the dissolution by purchasing Plaintiff’s 1% interest. Then plaintiff together with owners who held the other 49%, for a total of 50%, voted to dissolve the LLC under Corporations Code § 17707.01(b). The court held that action extinguished the right of the Defendants to purchase plaintiff’s 1% interest and avoid dissolution and the vote of the LLC membership by 50% to dissolve the LLC had to be given effect.
Brawerman v. Loeb & Loeb (2022) 81 Cal.App.5th 106. In this case work was done by a law firm which included an unlicensed attorney who was licensed in another state but not in California. The court of appeal held that the law firm was entitled to recover for the work that was done by the licensed attorneys, and that the firm’s retainer agreement wasn’t rendered illegal and unenforceable entirely because some attorneys who weren’t licensed in California also performed work for the clients under the same agreement.
Alfaro v. Waterhouse Management Corp. (2022) 82 Cal.App.5th 26. This is a SLAPP action. Lessors brought a SLAPP motion to strike current and former lessee’s causes of action for unlawful retaliation in violation of Civil Code § 1942.5(d). The trial court found that the motion was frivolous and sanctioned the lessors by awarding lessees reasonable attorneys’ fees. The court of appeal affirmed, noting that the claim and unlawful retaliation cause of action did not arise from litigation related activity, although it referenced the lessor’s malicious prosecution action and subsequent settlement negotiations, but that merely provided the context. Allegations of protected activity that are merely context, without separately supporting a claim for recovery, could not be struck under the SLAPP statute.
Creditors Adjustment Bureau, Inc. v. Imani (2022) 82 Cal.App.5th 131. Defendant entered into a stipulation for entry of judgment by which he only had to pay $30,000, but it provided that if he didn’t pay it then judgment would be entered against him for $251,200.13. Defendant didn’t pay the $30,000 and then sought to vacate the judgment for $251,200.13. The court of appeal held that the stipulated judgment was not an unenforceable penalty, but instead the amount of damage that had been suffered by the plaintiff and the stipulation provided that the defendant did not dispute the amount of the stipulated judgment hence there was not a disputed claim that was compromised when the stipulated judgment was entered into.
Gregory L. McCoy