Hearing Date: March 13, 2019
Case Name: Litinsky v. Harutyunov, et al.
Case No.: BC713781
Motion: Motion for Attorneys’ Fees
Moving Party: Defendant Jayne T. Kaplan
Responding Party: Plaintiff Mina Litinsky
Tentative Ruling: The Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is granted in part.
This is an action in which Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Vadim Harutyunov and his attorney Defendant Jayne T. Kaplan pursued a meritless lawsuit (Harutyunov v. Litinsky, BC643852 (“Underlying Action”)) against her as punishment for providing testimony inRaskin v. Petrosyan, BC447668. On July 13, 2018, Plaintiff filed the operative Complaint alleging causes of action for (1) wrongful use of civil proceedings, (2) malicious prosecution, (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”), and (4) fraud.
On November 8, 2018, the Court granted Defendant Kaplan’s anti-SLAPP motion.
Motion for Attorneys’ Fees
As the prevailing party on her anti-SLAPP motion, Defendant Kaplan seeks $76,527.30 in attorneys’ fees. (Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16(c).)
Plaintiff argues that both the number of hours incurred and counsel’s billing rate are excessive and unreasonable.
The Court finds the hourly billing rates of $627 and $502 to be reasonable given counsel’s experience and the locality in which the services provided. (See Sohal Decl. ¶¶ 5, 6; McCarthy Decl. ¶¶ 8-12.)
On the other hand, the number of hours incurred is excessive. The subject anti-SLAPP was not legally complex or novel in any substantial way. Indeed, legally, the motion simply focused on whether Defendant had probable cause to maintain the Underlying Action and whether that action was initiated with malice. While the motion was somewhat factually intensive, requiring review of two underlying actions, this did not warrant expending 144.9 hours on the matter.
In the exercise of the Court’s discretion on this particular motion under the circumstances, the Court awards $51,194 in attorneys’ fees (20 hours at $627 per hour and 77 hours at $502 per hour). The Motion for Attorneys’ fees is granted in part.