Henry M. Lee Law Corp. v. Superior Court (Chang)Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District (April 16, 2012)
Henry Lee (“Lee”) represented Ok Song Chang (“Chang”) in a claim against her former employer alleging various counts for wage and hour violations and wrongful termination. The jury trial resulted in a $62,246.74 judgment in favor of Chang. The trial court also awarded Chang $300,000 in attorney fees under Labor Code §§ 1194(a) and 226(e). Chang later substituted herself in propria persona for her former attorney. She signed the substitution form, but the signature line for Lee was left blank. Chang later retained new counsel. Lee moved to intervene in the action and to amend the postjudgment order awarding attorney fees to make the fee award payable to Lee. The trial court denied the motion concluding that the Labor Code sections provided for an award of fees payable to the employee rather than her attorney. Lee petitioned the court for extraordinary relief contending the attorney fee award should be made payable to him rather than Chang and that he was entitled to intervene in the action to seek such relief.
The Appellate Court held that a nonparty whose rights or interests are injuriously affected by a judgment or an appealable order may file a nonstatutory motion to vacate the judgment or order, and may appeal the denial of such a motion. The court construed Lee’s motion to intervene and amend the order awarding attorney fees as a nonstatutory motion to vacate the fee order and enter a new order. Lee was claiming a right to the fee award and that he was injuriously affected by the order awarding fees. As a result, he had standing to file the motion, and by doing so became a party to the litigation for purposes of Appellate review.
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