Golba v. Dick's Sporting GoodsAnnotate this Case
The class action complaint at the heart of this case alleged violations of the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971 based on Dick’s alleged practice of requesting personal information from consumers during credit card transactions. The litigants reached a settlement providing for class members to receive vouchers for discounts off any merchandise purchases. The initial complaint listed Plaintiff’s counsel of record as California attorney Sean Reis of the law firm of Edelson McGuire, LLP, and several out-of-state attorneys with the notation “[p]ro hac vice admittance to be sought.” The out-of-state attorneys included Joseph Siprut of Siprut PC in Chicago, Illinois. Reis signed the complaint and signed an amended complaint filed in June 2011. While accepting responsibility for monitoring the pro hac vice application, Reis was not aware the application had been denied and assumed the application had been granted. Once the proposed class action settlement had been reached, the parties set a hearing date for an unopposed motion for preliminary approval of the settlement. While preparing for this hearing, Siprut and his staff reviewed the file and were unable to locate an order granting the pro hac vice application. After learning of the status of the pro hac vice application, Reis filed a new application to admit Siprut pro hac vice. The trial court issued a tentative ruling denying the second pro hac vice application. Citing rule 9.40(b) of the California Rules of Court, the court stated that application would be denied due to the “great number of pro hac vice applications” that Joseph Siprut had made during the past year. Siprut appeared at a December 2012 hearing along with Todd Atkins, an attorney from Siprut PC, who was a member of the California State Bar. Reis did not appear. The court, affirming the tentative ruling, denied the pro hac vice application on the ground that Siprut had made 12 pro hac vice applications in the prior 11 months and there were no special circumstances under rule 9.40(b) of the California Rules of Court which would support granting the application. Reis ultimately filed a consent to associate Atkins as counsel of record for plaintiff. Upon settlement of the class, plaintiff's counsel moved for fees. The trial court found that two of a class of 232,000 submitted claims for the merchandise credit. The court could find “absolutely no benefit really to anybody based on your claims record” and noted that most of the attorney fees sought were incurred by two out-of-state attorneys who had never been admitted pro hac vice. Final approval was granted to the settlement. In a supplemental briefing, plaintiff's counsel suggested the court grant Sirput's pro has vice application for admission nunc pro tunc to the date of first application. Counsel's application for fees was ultimately denied, and on appeal, argued the trial court erred in denying the total amount ($210,000) of fees. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's award of $11,000. The Court further affirmed the trial court's decision to reduct the amount of the plaintiff incentive award.