Monday, March 15, 2021

Attorney fee award can be reduced because of attorney's incivility

Earlier this week in a case called Karton v. Ari Design & Construction, Inc., the California Court of Appeal decided that a court can deny the amount requested in attorney's fees in a case based on the fact that the attorney requesting the fee award was uncivil and "over litigated" the matter.

Ethical Grounds has a good summary of the case.  The lawyer in question requested “$271,530 in attorney fees, $52,021 in discovery sanctions, and $203,646 for proving matters at trial that had been denied in discovery.” The trial court determined that the lawyer had not provided sufficient evidence to assess whether the fee request was reasonable and gave the lawyer additional time to make the argument.  The trial court instructed the lawyer to limit the additional argument to 10 pages of text, plus any exhibits.  In turn, the lawyer submitted additional evidence – 11 pages of text, over 400 pages of exhibits – and requested an additional $16,000 in fees.  Yet, in the end, the trial court awarded $90,000 in fees and explained that it decided not to award the full amount requested because of the lawyer’s incivility and over-litigation of the matter.

You can read the opinion here.  The Volokh Conspiracy has a comment here.  

UPDATE 4/4/21:  Above the Law has a comment here.

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