BMW of North America fee dispute in 'Lemon Law' case decided by federal court

By Carrie Salls | May 12, 2018

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California partially approved the payment of $18,431 fees and costs incurred in a settled lawsuit filed against BMW of North America LLC, according to an order filed April 30.

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California partially approved the payment of $18,431 fees and costs incurred in a settled lawsuit filed against BMW of North America LLC, according to an order filed April 30.

The order said plaintiff Floyd Anderson filed a lawsuit against BMW of North America under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, more commonly known as the Lemon Law.

Specifically, the order said Anderson claimed that BMW of North America did not properly fix his 2015 BMW motorcycle “within 30 days, as required by law.”

“The parties have settled the substantive portion of the matter and all that remains is the determination of fees and costs,” the order said.

Anderson filed his lawsuit in the California Superior Court for the County of San Diego. However, the district court order said BMW of North America had the case moved to the Southern California district court and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The central district case was subsequently dismissed.

In an initial attempt to settle the lawsuit, the April 30 order said Anderson asked BMW of North America to “repurchase the motorcycle and pay plaintiff’s attorney’s fees to that point.” However, BMW of North America rejected that settlement proposal.

However, the parties’ attorneys told the court on March 16 that the lemon law violation lawsuit had been settled, “with the exception of attorney’s fees.” Despite seeking an extension to reach a deal on the fees, the parties notified the district court on March 21 that no agreement had been reached.

Arguments related to the fee issue were heard by the court April 16. The court said the fee dispute centered on the amount requested by Anderson.

Anderson asked the court to award $20,300 in attorney’s fees and $531.21 in costs, calculated based on attorney Mark Romano’s 40.6 hours of work on the case at $500 per hour.

“Defendant argues the attorney’s fee award sought is inflated because Mr. Romano was inefficient and his hourly rate is unreasonably high,” the order said. BMW argued that the fees and costs should be based on a rate of $460 per hour instead of $500.

The district court order awards Anderson a total of $18,431 toward attorney’s fees and costs.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo wrote in the order that BMW’s proposed $460-per-hour rate “falls within a range of reasonableness,” but that the company did not do enough to prove that $500 per hour was not reasonable.

“The court finds the hourly rate of $500 per hour to be reasonable given Mr. Romano’s experience, the tasks completed, and this rate is similar to rates deemed reasonable in other similar matters,” the order said.

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