Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Guillory v. Hill (Cal. Ct. App. - June 25, 2019)

The end of page two of today's opinion tells you probably all you need to know about the case.  The two sentences therein say:  "Plaintiffs originally sought over $1 million in damages but ultimately obtained an award of less than $5,400. Plaintiffs then moved for almost $3.8 million in attorney fees in a 392-page motion containing, in the trial court’s words, “bloated, indiscriminate,” and sometimes “‘cringeworthy’” billing records."

Yikes.  Needless to say, the Court of Appeal affirms.

Can you get an award of attorney's fees even if you obtain a relatively small award of damages at trial?  Of course you can.

But while pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.

Plaintiffs here asked for a ton of money at before trial, and then their lawyers asked for a ton of money after trial.  Perhaps even worse, the fee request at issue basically just dumped a huge pile of billing records in front of the trial court and said, essentially, "Sort it out yourself."

That, plus the fact that the bills were "crammed with obfuscating and questionable" entries, doesn't get you what you want.  It gets you exactly the opposite.  Nothing.

This is a good case to cite for the proposition that a bad (or abusive) fee motion is reason alone to deny fees altogether.  Though I doubt many cases involve nearly as bad of facts as these.

(The firms that represented the plaintiffs below, as well as on appeal, are Quintilone & Associates and the Eisenberg Law Firm.)