Choosing A Lawyer, Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C.
The primary complaints clients have about lawyers are unavailability and failure to listen. These are simple but very important qualities your lawyer should have. Selecting a lawyer can be a difficult and important decision and have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case.
Receptive, Adaptive, Enterprising
You should find an attorney who is knowledgeable, available for consultation and follow up, and willing to fight hard for you. At BV Law, our employee and injury attorneys are available to hear the details of your case, and formulate creative, enterprising litigation strategies and solutions tailored to achieve the best result for you. Schedule a free consultation with a BV Law attorney today regarding your Bay Area tenant, consumer, or civil rights lawsuit.
Right To A Jury Trial
The 7th Amendment of the United States Constitution codifies our right to a jury trial in certain civil cases. The California State Constitution, Article 1, Section 16, provides that trial by jury is an inviolate right and shall be secured to all.
A good plaintiff's lawyer will understand the importance of letting a jury of one's peers decide a case when appropriate. This was important to the founding fathers of the United States and is a fundamental democratic principle and right. In the words of Thomas Jefferson:
"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."
Always be sure your attorney has the intention and ability of taking your case all the way to a jury verdict. Sophisticated defendants and counsel do not make good settlement offers to plaintiff's attorneys known for settling cases without a fight. The Bay Area tenant and personal injury attorneys at Bracamontes and Vlasak prepare each case assuming that the case will go to trial.
Attorney's Fees And Costs
Most plaintiffs' cases are taken on a contingency basis, meaning the attorney recovers no money unless and until the attorney recovers money for the client. In contingency cases, costs-such as investigative work, court filing fees, depositions, retention of expert witnesses, and trial costs-are also typically forwarded by the attorney. You want a plaintiff's firm with the resources to properly fund and build up your case.
Bracamontes & Vlasak has a proven track record of commitment to our cases and clients. We have the resources required to litigate your case to realize its full potential and maximum your case value.
Attorney's Fees From Opposing Parties
In order to maximize your own recovery, you also need an attorney with the knowledge and foresight to develop a litigation strategy to recover attorney's fees from the other side. The employment, injury and tenant attorneys at Bracamontes and Vlasak research and litigate each case with these principles and the client's interests in mind.
Some statutory and common law grounds for recovery of attorney's fees in California are the following:
- Contracts And Leases
Landlords often put unilateral language into leases stating that only the landlord can recover attorney's fees in an action to enforce the contract. California Civil Code section 1717 provides, however, that the prevailing party in an action on a contract may recover its attorney's fees, rendering reciprocal all such unfair, unilateral provisions. This means that the tenant too can recover attorney's fees if/when the tenant prevails in an action to enforce a lease with an attorney's fees provision.
The San Francisco Rent Ordinance and the California Civil Code provide for attorney's fees, actual and treble damages for unlawful evictions or lockouts, a landlord's failure to perform repairs and maintenance required by contract, code or by housing, health or safety laws, harassing or threatening tenants, discrimination and other interferences with a tenant's right to privacy or habitability.
Under Oakland's Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance whenever a landlord or anyone assisting a landlord wrongfully attempts to recover possession of a rental unit, the tenant may recover attorneys' fees, actual and treble damages.
- California's Fair Employment And Housing Act ("FEHA")
California's Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") (Govt. Code section 12940 et. seq.) provides for attorneys' fees to the prevailing party in suits brought for housing or employment discrimination.
- Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP)
California has enacted an anti-SLAPP statute meant to discourage strategic lawsuits against public participation which intend to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense. The anti-SLAPP statute, California Civil Procedure section 425.16(c), attempts to deter protected or frivolous litigation by imposing the litigation costs on the plaintiff.
- Insurance Recovery — Brandt Fees
In Brandt v. Superior Court, 37 Cal. App. 3d 813 (1985), the California Supreme Court permitted insurance policyholders to recover their attorney's fees when plaintiffs were forced to bring suit to compel payment of the policy benefits. Such attorney's fees are recoverable as bad faith damages against insurance companies that wrongfully withhold policy benefits.
The federal Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976, often referred to as "Section 1988," allows recovery of attorneys' fees in certain civil rights actions.
Most statutory fee awards in employment discrimination are under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act or under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1981 or § 1983.
The Civil Rights Act of 1991 provides monetary damages, including attorney's fees in cases of intentional employment discrimination.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is aimed at abolishing wage discrimination based on gender. The Act gives those subject to wage disparity based on gender the right to sue for injunctive relief, back pay, interest, damages, and attorney's fees.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 allows the award of reasonable attorney's fees to prevailing plaintiffs in housing discrimination actions.
California Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, referred to as the "private attorney general" act allows for an award of attorney's fees to a successful party in "any action which has resulted in the enforcement of an important right affecting the public interest if: (a) a significant benefit ... has been conferred on the general public ... , (b) the necessity and financial burden of private enforcement ... make the award appropriate, and (c) such fees should not in the interest of justice be paid out of the recovery, if any." This section can be used to recover attorney's fees in cases enforcing constitutional rights.
The cornerstone of civil litigation in elder law is the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act ("EAADAPA"; Welf. & Inst. Code 15600 et. seq.). The purpose of EAADAPA is to protect elders and dependent adults from "abuse, neglect, or abandonment."
Abused elders can recover past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, damages for past and future pain and suffering and attorney's fees.
Further, under California Civil Code section 3345, plaintiffs can recover treble damages for unfair competition and financial abuse of elders or disabled persons. Welfare and Institutions Code sections 15657.5(a) and 15657.6 provide for an award of costs and reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing plaintiff where the defendant has been found liable for financial elder abuse, including "undue influence" and abusive sale practices.
The California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the Tanner Consumer Protection Act were enacted to protect consumers from repeated repairs on "lemon" vehicles. These laws allow a consumer to return or be compensated for a new or used vehicle which has been in the shop repeatedly for dealer warranty repairs. The California Lemon Law also requires that the automobile manufacturer pay the consumer's attorney's fees in any case that settles for a buyback, new replacement, or cash settlement payment.
- Consumer Protection
The Magnuson-Moss Federal Warranty Act is a federal consumer-warranty law. The Act allows a consumer damaged by the failure of a supplier to comply with its obligations under an express or implied warranty to bring a civil action in any state or federal court after the party obligated under the warranty is given a reasonable opportunity to comply and fails to do so. The Act provides for an award of attorney's fees to prevailing consumer plaintiffs. Once entitlement of attorney's fees is established, the award will be based on the actual time expended rather than a percentage of the recovery. This provision allows the pursuit of consumer rights involving inexpensive products economically feasible.
- Consumer Fraud
The California Consumer Legal Remedies Act regulates unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result in the sale or lease of goods or services to consumers. The Act identifies certain methods, such as misrepresentation and false advertising, as unlawful. A prevailing consumer may recover actual damages, punitive damages and attorney's fees.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") mandates an award of attorney's fees and costs to "any person injured in his business or property by reason of a violation of Section 1962." Congress passed the civil RICO statute, with its mandatory attorney's fees and costs provision, to encourage victims of racketeering acts, such as mail and wire fraud, to bring suit against such prohibited practices.