Someone renting a Honda Center luxury suite from the Anaheim Ducks got years behind on payments--we're talking more than $100,000 behind--so the NHL franchise sued and won a judgment in Orange County court for the unpaid balance.
Next, the Ducks sought to have the defendant pay its attorney fees, which the team pegged at just north of $5,000. But, like what's happening on the ice this season, things went south.
The trial court rejected the attorney fees plea and set the amount the company owed at around $112,000. The Ducks appealed, and like what's happening on the ice this season, things turned disastrous. In its judgment filed Tuesday, the Santa Ana-based appellate court ruled the company not only doesn't have to pay attorney fees, it doesn't have to pay the back rent either.
That's because, according to the appeals judges, the Ducks were quacking up the wrong tree.
See, the Ducks had been suing Platinum Capital Group, an Irvine mortgage banker that had been occupying the corporate suite from 2006 through 2011. That company was also, at least in the initial years, making the annual payments, which were about $39,000. One year half a payment came in. Then they stopped altogether.
The original rental agreement for the suite was not entered into with Platinum Capital Group, however. The suite was rented by Newport Beach's Mark D. Moses, the company's founder and longtime chairman. At some point, Moses had Platinum Capital Group take over as the seat holder. This was not indicated in the actual rental agreement with the Ducks, however.
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Another event that happened in secret played a part in the ultimate legal outcome. The Ducks cut a deal whereby Moses paid around $3,500 to be let off the hook in the back-rent case. The Ducks pursued action only against Platinum Capital after that. Figuring in interest and costs that do not include the attorney fees, the Ducks figured Platinum owed $121,785.60.
"[Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club] is not entitled to an award of contractual attorney fees against Platinum Capital Group because Platinum Capital Group was not a party to the contract," reads the ruling by Presiding Judge Kathleen E. O'Leary with Justice Raymond Ikola concurring.
Though the appeal was only intended by the Ducks to focus on the narrow issue of attorney fees, "[t]hat portion of the default judgment denying contractual attorney fees, on this record, cannot be severed from the remainder of the default judgment which is entirely dependent on the same issue--whether Platinum Capital Group can be liable to ADHC for breach of the contract," the justices add.
Read the judgment HERE, which includes a swipe at the trial court for failing to take a hard look at the rental records.