Karton v. Ari Design & Construction, Inc.Annotate this Case
After plaintiff filed suit against defendant and won a judgment for $133,792.11 plus postjudgment interest, plaintiff sought attorney fees of $271,530, which were later increased to $287,640 in the trial court and now to $292,140 in this court. The trial court awarded $90,000 in attorney fees.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's award of attorney fees, concluding that the trial court used sound discretion to limit the attorney fees to $90,000. The trial court began with the conventional lodestar calculation and gave good reasons for concluding that 600 plus hours was reasonable. However, the court reversed the trial court's ruling that plaintiff had no basis to collect the $90,000 award from an insurance company called Wesco that had posted a surety bond for defendant. Rather, the court concluded that the liability of the surety is commensurate with the liability of its principal. In this case, by statute, the court concluded that defendant must pay the attorney fees as a matter of costs and so too must Wesco. Accordingly, the court remanded for the trial court to amend the judgment to make surety Wesco liable for the $90,000 fee award as an item of costs.