Articles Tagged with Attorney’s Fees

The American civil legal system normally doesn’t allow for a successful party to recoup its legal costs, unless that’s spelled out by statute. Though in other countries a plaintiff brining a lawsuit runs the risk of paying the defendant’s lawyers’ bills, normally unless a claim is particularly groundless and “frivolous” the plaintiff need only cover his or her own costs. A recent Los Angeles County Court case is an exception to that rule, according to the Daily Journal.
Nancy Arambula Corona, a former on-site building manager, sued her ex-employer, Weiss Family Properties, LLC, (which owns apartment buildings in Los Angeles County) under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and its Labor Code. According to the filings in the case,

• Corona suffered an injury on the job.
• Defendant states it reasonably accommodated her by having another employee clean her building.
• Weiss eventually fired Corona because she couldn’t perform her job and plaintiff’s physician stated her condition wouldn’t improve.
• Corona also claimed she was owed unpaid overtime pay while Weiss claimed they paid her for the hours she submitted on her time sheets.

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photo - Under Armour lawsuitIn less than ten years Under Armour has gone from the owner selling its sporting goods from the trunk of his car, after making them in his grandmother’s basement, to a $3 billion business. That aggressive growth is being matched with legal aggression against companies who may, or may not, be infringing on the company’s trademarks.

One example is a lawsuit against a company whose owner claims its name, Armor & Glory, is biblically inspired, not inspired by its much better known competitor, according to the Washington Post. Terrance Jackson started his company in 2013, he says after he found much of the clothing marketed for his three year old son were covered in skulls and crossbones.

Jackson has only sold a couple hundred shirts and has no marketing budget beyond its Facebook page. Despite its small size Armour & Glory got the attention of Under Armour, the country’s second biggest sportswear company, which sued it, claiming trademark infringement. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Maryland where both companies are based. According to the Post,

PHOTO BY: ANIBAL ORTIZ, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Tony Liu, a business litigation and trial attorney here in Orange County, specializes in representing Chinese and Taiwanese businesses here in U.S.
PHOTO BY: ANIBAL ORTIZ, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

A contract clause allowing the winning party litigating a lease issue to be awarded attorney’s fees is not uncommon. If there is a lawsuit concerning a lease it will probably be the landlord suing to collect rent, which, if properly documented, the landlord should have a good chance of winning. However, if the clause is broadly worded, it may open up wide potential liability for the landlord. Hemphill v. Wright Family, LLC, is a case in point.

Don Hemphill purchased a mobile home at a mobile home park owned by Wright Family, LLC. Part of the purchase was a lease agreement covering the home site and common areas. An attorney fee provision in the lease allowed the prevailing party in any action arising out of the homeowner’s tenancy, the agreement, or the provisions of the state Mobilehome Residency Law to recover reasonable expenses including attorney fees and costs.

Hemphill was injured when he stepped into a sunken and uncovered drainage hole on the property and sued Wright Family in a personal injury claim. A jury found in his favor, awarding him $311,899.67. The trial court denied plaintiff’s attempts to be awarded attorney’s fees (normally not part of personal injury claims) under the lease and appealed.

The appellate court ruled that plaintiff’s fall while walking across a common area lawn arose out of the homeowner’s tenancy. This entitled him to an award of attorney fees as the prevailing party in the legal action. The appeals court reversed the lower court order denying a fee award and sent the matter back to the trial court to determine the attorney’s fees award.

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