The City of Burbank tried to screw a bus dealer out of money, and got hit with five times attorneys fees

 
Now here’s something we never heard chatted about at a city council meeting between any of the fun awards recognitions and holocaust ceremonies of the month.

Apparently it’s not just the BUSD that likes to play hardball on the taxpayers’ dime and then has to spend more money on the other side’s attorneys fees than it ever owed on the original claim.

This is from an Appeals Court Opinion in 2014 that upheld an earlier jury verdict against the city. Burbank had obviously tried to come up with a phony excuse to cheat this dealer out of some of the money it owed them on a couple of buses it ordered, and then got caught.

 

Due to delays in Blue Bird’s production, the buses were not delivered on or before March 27, 2009. The delivery dates for the buses are disputed, but the evidence establishes that no buses were delivered prior to May 2009 or after August 2009.1 It is undisputed the buses were not delivered at the same time, but on multiple dates. Burbank paid for the first four buses in full but tendered payment for the fifth bus, less $44,960.32.

In a letter dated August 25, 2009, Burbank claimed damages for the delayed delivery in the form of additional contractor-provided vehicle services, increased sales taxes, staffing and mileage costs to inspect the vehicles (due to multiple delivery dates), and increased paint costs. Burbank did not comply with A-Z Bus’s demand for full payment.

A-Z Bus sued Burbank for breach of contract on November 12, 2010. The complaint alleged the parties contracted for the sale of five buses, A-Z Bus delivered and Burbank accepted the buses, and Burbank tendered $44,960 less than the agreed upon price. Burbank answered, claiming A-Z Bus did not state sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action. A-Z Bus filed the operative first amended complaint, which was identical to the complaint, with the exception that the parties’ contract was attached.

Efforts at settlement were unsuccessful, and the case proceeded to jury trial. The jury returned its verdict in favor of A-Z Bus, awarding $44,960.32 in damages.

Burbank filed a motion for new trial, which the trial court denied. Burbank then filed a timely notice of appeal from the judgment. Pursuant to Civil Code section 1717, A-Z Bus moved for attorney fees. The trial court awarded $192,678.98 in costs and attorney fees to A-Z Bus, after deducting fees it deemed duplicative and/or unnecessary. Burbank filed a timely notice of appeal from the order awarding attorney fees. The appeals were consolidated…

The Court concluded:

As is clear from the record, the trial court was aware of the standards that apply to the award of attorney fees. It was in the best position to determine the value of the professional services provided to A-Z Bus, and, in fact, exercised its discretion to adjust the award downward to account for fees that it deemed unnecessary. The $192,678.98 in costs and attorney fees, covering multiple attempts at mediation, a jury trial of several days, and motions for summary judgment and for new trial, among other matters, is not clearly excessive or an abuse of discretion.
 

In other words, the Appeals Court affirmed the original jury verdict against the city. They also made the city pay the other side’s costs of this silly and useless appeal action.

Can you imagine the City of Burbank making this much of a fuss about a $50,000 that they rightfully owed someone? This is the kind of stuff the council meets behind the scenes about in closed session.

The next time you see them btw, ask who it was that won that four-year-long Deri police shooting case in 2009. No one will tell us, which suggests that it was not the City of Burbank.

 

 

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “The City of Burbank tried to screw a bus dealer out of money, and got hit with five times attorneys fees

  1. DixieFlyer

    When will the City Attorney and her staff be held accountable for their record of Poor Service, Poor Advice and overall Poor Performance?

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