Reconsideration denied December 15, 2014.
Attorney fees. Forsyth Superior Court. Before Judge Bagley.
Johnson & Ward, Stanley E. Kreimer, Jr., for appellant.
C. David Joyner, for appellees.
PHIPPS, Chief Judge. Ellington, P. J., and McMillian, J., concur.
Phipps, Chief Judge.
This court granted Ehsan Razavi's application for discretionary appeal to challenge the trial court's award of attorney fees to Arif Merchant and his corporation, Great Investors Group, LLC (collectively " Great Investors" ), pursuant to OCGA § 9-15-14 (b). Razavi contends that the trial court erred in failing to make proper findings of fact and conclusions of law, in failing to determine the
reasonableness of the fees sought, and in making a lump sum award. Razavi further contends that the trial court erred in awarding attorney fees in any amount because his quantum meruit claim, upon which the award was based, did not lack substantial justification; the claim for attorney fees was barred by the doctrines of res judicata or collateral estoppel; and fundamental principles of jurisprudence militate against allowing Great Investors multiple attempts at obtaining attorney fees. For the reasons that follow, we vacate the award and remand the case for further action by the trial court.
In August 2011, Razavi filed a complaint against Great Investors, alleging, inter alia, a claim for breach of contract and a claim for quantum meruit. At (a bench) trial, after Razavi had rested his case, the trial court dismissed, inter alia, Razavi's claim for quantum meruit. At the conclusion of the trial, the court found in favor of Merchant on Razavi's breach of contract claim (the court denied Razavi's breach of contract claim); and found in favor of Great Investors on counterclaims it had asserted for payment under certain promissory notes, conversion, and assault.
This is the second appearance of this case before this court; in the first appearance, this court affirmed the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Court of Appeals Rule 36. After the remittitur was issued, a hearing was held in the trial court on a motion for attorney fees pursuant to OCGA § 9-15-14 (b), which motion Great Investors had timely filed, and had later amended.
In seeking attorney fees pursuant to OCGA § 9-15-14 (b), Great [330 Ga.App. 408] Investors argued:
The claims asserted by [Razavi] lacked substantial justification. [Razavi] was not the correct party in interest to bring a quantum meruit complaint against [Great Investors]. Yet, the greatest majority of the time devoted to this case was associated with these quantum meruit claims. Furthermore, even if [Razavi] had been the appropriate party to assert the quantum meruit claim, [Razavi's] claims ...