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Meyers Nave Achieves Rare Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees for City of Palmdale

Los Angeles, CA– Meyers Nave attorneys Deborah Fox and Phil Seymour in the case of Andrew J. Eliopulos v. The City of Palmdale recovered, and successfully defended on appeal, the payment to the City of over $100,000 in attorneys fees by a developer who had sued Palmdale under a development agreement.

The initial issue in Andrew J. Eliopulos v. The City of Palmdale involved the acquisition of a six acre parcel in 2001 by the plaintiff J.P. Eliopulos’ company, J.P. Eliopulos Enterprises, Inc. from Rancho Vista Development Company, who had previously entered into a development agreement with the City of Palmdale for the Rancho Vista area. As the remaining development of the acreage Eliopulos submitted a proposal to develop a 90-unit apartment complex on the 6 acre parcel. While the city planning commission approved the plan, the city council reversed the decision. Plaintiff then issued his initial complaint for breach of contract, civil rights violation and mandate petition.

The appellate court ultimately sided with the City of Palmdale on the underlying substantive issues at play and then the focus shifted to the City’s request for attorneys’ fees. On May 30, 2006 defendants, represented by Fox and Seymour, filed an attorneys’ fees motion pursuant to language in the development plan providing for reimbursement for an action on the contract.

The plaintiff alleged that because he was judged earlier to not be in standing to bring suit, that he was not liable for the fees. His claim rested on the logic that in order to pay the defendant’s fees, he himself would at least, theoretically, have to have been able to recover his own fees should he have been successful. However, the court found that the Rancho Vista Development Plan was binding on successors and assigns — Eliopulos.

Eliopulos in his first amended complaint alleged that he was, “authorized to prosecute this action on behalf” of Rancho Vista Development Company. This formed the basis for his claim of standing to begin with. Therefore, even though he was found to lack standing, his use of the development agreement particulars, although flawed, to bring suit left him liable to the provisions found within.

Judge Victor H. Person then awarded over $100,000 in attorneys’ fees to the defendants. This judgment was upheld on appeal by the Court of Appeal of the State of California for the Second Appellate District, Division Five.


Jayne Williams
Meyers Nave