- Case Type:
- Case Status:
- BAP No. CC-20-1223-GFL (9th Circuit, Feb 26,2021) Not Published
- Applying an abuse of discretion standard, the BAP held that the Bankruptcy Court did not err in awarding $54,877 in attorneys' fees to a party that successfully prosecuted an unopposed motion to expunge a lis pendens. While the Bankruptcy Court only provided a cursory explanation for its decision, merely stating it agreed with the movant's arguments, the explanation was sufficient to satisfy the abuse of discretion standard. An appellate court must give substantial deference to a bankruptcy court's superior understanding of the litigation.
- Procedural context:
- Appeal from Bankruptcy Court order awarding attorneys' fees in the amount of $54,877 incurred in connection with prosecuting an unopposed motion to expunge a lis pendens.
- The case arises from the complicated litigation history relating to 157 acres of residential real estate overlooking Beverly Hills. Sunset acquired certain rights relating to the property and then filed an action in state court seeking to enforce the right of redemption against Hughes. Sunset recorded a lis pendens. Hughes removed the action to the Bankruptcy Court and filed a motion to expunge the lis pendens, arguing the lis pendens was not properly served and the complaint did not establish the probable validity of a real property claim. Sunset did not oppose the motion and attempted to withdraw the lis pendens prior to the hearing. The Court granted the motion and set a hearing to determine an award of attorneys' fees. Hughes filed an application requesting $54,877. Sunset opposed, arguing that it acted with substantial justification and no fees should be awarded because it did not oppose the motion and attempted to withdraw the lis pendens. Sunset also argued that the requested fees were excessive. Hughes responded that the fee amount was reasonable, arguing that the motion was not typical given the history of the case and significance of the property. At the hearing, the Court granted the request, holding that that it agreed with the arguments made by Hughes and that the case was not typical. Sunset then appealed to the BAP.
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