Warner v. Brochendorff
A party that files a judgment lien and that moves to foreclose the judgment lien may be entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §52-249(a). The plaintiff, Scott Warner, sued the defendant, alleging that the defendant arranged to cut approximately 16 trees on the plaintiff's property. The defendant was defaulted for failure to plead. At a hearing in damages in 2007, a court awarded the plaintiff $50,000. The plaintiff filed a judgment lien and a foreclosure complaint against the defendant. The defendant hired an attorney and objected to the underlying judgment. The trial court reduced the underlying judgment to $10,000, and the plaintiff appealed. The Connecticut Appellate Court reversed and held that the defendant could not collaterally attack the foreclosure judgment in a foreclosure case. The plaintiff requested reasonable attorneys' fees in the amount of $93,385, pursuant to C.G.S. §52-249(a). The statute provides, "The plaintiff in any action of foreclosure of a mortgage or lien, upon obtaining judgment of foreclosure, when there has been a hearing as to the form of judgment or the limitation of time for redemption, shall be allowed the same costs, including a reasonable attorney's fee, as if there had been a hearing on an issue of fact." The plaintiff's attorney submitted 25 pages of invoices to document legal work performed between February 2008 and November 2012. The court found that 6.5 hours spent to draft a foreclosure complaint and lis pendens was excessive. Although the foreclosure was contested, and the plaintiff filed an appeal, "[t]he issues presented in this case," wrote the court, "were not particularly complex and the fees the plaintiff requests are nearly twice the amount of the judgment." The court approved 300 hours of legal work at $200 per hour. The court awarded the plaintiff $60,000 in reasonable attorneys' fees, plus costs of $1,968.