Los Angeles Team Secures Appellate Win in Attorney Fee Dispute

Los Angeles, Calif. (June 18, 2021) - Los Angeles Appellate Partners Roy Weatherup and Caroline Chan, along with Los Angeles Partner Bartley Becker, recently secured an appellate victory when a California state appeals court affirmed a six-figure award of attorney fees to Lewis Brisbois’ client after he prevailed on his anti-SLAPP motion in a malicious prosecution action.

This matter arose from a dispute involving the construction of a bedroom that was part of an overall home-sale transaction. Lewis Brisbois’ client, an attorney, represented the seller of the home. The plaintiff-homeowner in this case filed a malicious prosecution action against Lewis Brisbois’ client and his law firm over a collection action related to the bedroom addition. Lewis Brisbois’ client subsequently filed a motion to strike the complaint pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute. The court granted the motion and awarded over $100,000 in attorney fees to Lewis Brisbois’ client. The plaintiff then appealed the award.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the six-figure award of attorney fees was greater than the hourly fee that Lewis Brisbois’ client paid to Lewis Brisbois under a pre-negotiated agreement. However, as reported in The Recorder article titled, “Appeals Court Upholds Legal Fees for Lewis Brisbois Client,” the appellate panel determined that the trial court’s calculation was reasonable, and that the attorney fees award did not “shock the conscience.” It explained that “an attorney who accepts a reduced rate from a client is not precluded from seeking a reasonable hourly rate pursuant to the lodestar method” in recovering fees from a client’s adversary. Accordingly, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s attorney fee award.

Mr. Weatherup was pleased with the result in this matter, telling Metropolitan News-Enterprise in an article titled “Attorney-Fee Award Not Limited to What Insurer Paid,” “My client . . . and I are very pleased by the Court of Appeal decision affirming the fee award. [The plaintiff] has filed several malicious prosecution actions against [our client], all of which were found to lack merit. After more than 10 years, we are pleased that they are over.” He further noted, “We will submit a request for publication to the Court of Appeal.”

Mr. Weatherup is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Appellate Practice and a Certified Specialist in Appellate Law. As one of the most experienced appellate attorneys in California, he has been responsible for the submission of thousands of appellate briefs and has presented oral argument to state and federal courts several hundreds of times. In addition, hundreds of Mr. Weatherup’s matters have resulted in published opinions.

Ms. Chan, also a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Appellate Practice and a Certified Specialist in Appellate Law, has focused upon civil appeals, writs, and dispositive trial court motions for over 20 years. She has also served as a strategic advisor to clients and trial counsel in complex matters. Her experience includes filing hundreds of appellate briefs, writs, and petitions in federal and state courts, including in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Becker is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Professional Liability and Miscellaneous Professional Liability Practices. He is an experienced litigation attorney with more than 30 years of practice representing various professionals. His emphasis is the representation of attorneys in professional malpractice lawsuits as well as property and casualty insurers in first-party bad faith matters.

Related Attorneys

Find an Attorney

Each of the firm's offices include partners, associates and a professional staff dedicated to meeting the challenge of providing the firm's clients with extraordinary service.