Technical Construction of 'Actual Controversy' Requirement Under CCP § 1060 is Overturned in Dispute Over Fees


In Leonard Carder, LLP v. Patten, Faith & Sandford 2010 DJDAR 15776 (2010) the Second Appellate District interpreted the “actual controversy” requirement contained in CCP § 1060 in a fee dispute context.

Two law firms Leonard Carder LLP (“Carder”) and Patten, Faith & Sandford (“Patten”) were appointed to represent a class in a class action lawsuit. The litigation effort was successful and the class was awarded approximately $14.4 million in compensation. Carder moved for an award of attorney fees, presenting a lodestar calculation stating that Carder worked 11,414 hours and Patten worked 673 hours. Under the lodestar presented by Carder, fees were due in the sum of $10,879,272 for Carder and $373,040 for Patten.

At the hearing on the motion, the trial court signed a stipulation by the parties concerning the fees owed. The court authorized payment of attorney fees totaling $12,475,000 to be paid to Carder “as trustees for distribution to all counsel.”

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