State of Colorado, ex rel. Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General for the State of Colorado; and Julie Ann Meade, Administrator, Uniform Consumer Credit Code, Plaintiffs-Appellees and Cross-Appellants,
Robert J. Hopp & Associates, LLC; The Hopp Law Firm, LLC; National Title, LLC, d/b/a Horizon National Title insurance, LLC; First National Title Residential, LLC; Safehaus Holdings Group, LLC; Lori L. Hopp; and Robert J. Hopp, Defendants-Appellants and Cross-Appellees,
and County of Denver District Court No. 14CV34780 Honorable
Shelley I. Gilman, Judge
Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Jennifer H. Hunt, First
Assistant Attorney General, Erik R. Neusch, Senior Assistant
Attorney General, Rebecca M. Taylor, Mark L. Boehmer,
Assistant Attorneys General, Denver, Colorado, for
Plaintiffs-Appellees and Cross-Appellants
Richards Carrington, LLC, Christopher P. Carrington, Ruth M.
Moore, Denver, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellants and
ROTHENBERG JUDGE. [*]
1 Plaintiffs, the State of Colorado, ex rel. Cynthia H.
Coffman, Attorney General for the State of Colorado; and
Julie Ann Meade, Administrator, Uniform Consumer Credit Code,
brought a civil law enforcement action against defendants,
foreclosure lawyer Robert J. Hopp; Hopp's wife, Lori L.
Hopp; Hopp's law firms, Robert J. Hopp & Associates,
LLC and The Hopp Law Firm, LLC (collectively, the law firms);
as well as Hopp's affiliated title companies, National
Title, LLC, d/b/a Horizon National Title Insurance, LLC, and
First National Title Residential, LLC; and Safehaus Holdings
Group, LLC, a company owned by Hopp and Lori Hopp, which,
through its subsidiary, provided accounting and bookkeeping
services for the law firms and title companies. The State
alleged that Hopp, the law firms, and their affiliated
companies violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act
(CCPA) and the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(CFDCPA) by billing its mortgage servicer clients title
insurance premium charges for foreclosure commitments when
those full costs were not actually incurred, despite knowing
that these fraudulent costs would be assessed against
Colorado homeowners in foreclosure. The district court agreed
with plaintiffs and entered judgment in their favor, except
it concluded there was insufficient evidence to find Lori
Hopp personally liable for any alleged misconduct.
2 Defendants now appeal the district court's award of
plaintiffs' attorney fees and costs. Lori Hopp further
appeals the district court's denial of her request for
her attorney fees.
3 We affirm the district court's order.
Attorney Fees Orders
4 The trial court awarded plaintiffs most of their reasonable
attorney fees and costs incurred in bringing the enforcement
action under the CCPA and CFDCPA. See §
5-16-133, C.R.S. 2017; § 6-1- 113(4), C.R.S. 2017. The
trial court's order awarding fees cites to the former
location of the CFDCPA, section 12-14-135, C.R.S. 2014. The
CFDCPA was repealed and replaced in 2017 and section 12-14-
135 was replaced by section 5-16-133, C.R.S. 2017. Plaintiffs
requested attorney fees in the amount of $933, 277 and $35,
648 in costs. The trial court made numerous reductions to
plaintiffs' requested award:
. The court concluded it was unreasonable to
employ more than two attorneys and a paralegal at trial. It
declined to award fees for any fees requested for staffing at
trial exceeding that level. It subtracted those amounts from
the amount requested by plaintiffs, resulting in a lodestar
amount of $903, 106.
. Considering the factors set forth in Colo.
RPC 1.5, the trial court observed that plaintiffs recovered
significantly less than they sought at the outset at trial.
The court also noted its concern that plaintiffs did not
realize that a substantial portion of penalties imposed under
the FDCPA were not available until after trial. Thus, the
court reduced the lodestar amount by twenty-five percent and
awarded $677, 329.50 for attorney fees.
. Defendants challenged plaintiffs'
request for costs for deposing Lori Hopp and Brian Howard.
Plaintiffs did not respond to defendants' argument;
therefore, the court reduced the costs award to $33, 685.97.
5 Lori Hopp requested her attorney fees and costs, arguing
that plaintiffs' action against her was substantially
groundless under sections 13-17-101 to -106, C.R.S. 2017. She
argued that, alternatively, C.R.C.P. 11(a) required imposing
a sanction against plaintiffs by way of awarding her attorney
fees. The court denied her motion, concluding that, even
though the state did not ultimately prove the CCPA claim
against her, it was not groundless, nor were sanctions
required against plaintiffs under C.R.C.P. 11(a).
6 Defendants contend that, in the event the underlying
judgment against them is reversed on appeal, the award of
fees and costs against them should also be reversed because
it depends on the validity of the underlying judgment on the
merits. Because we affirm the underlying judgment in
State v. Hopp, 2018 COA 69, announced today,
reversal of the attorney fees award is not required on that
7 Hopp contends the trial court erred when it imposed an
award of attorney fees and costs against him because it was
precluded from doing so by his discharge of debts in
bankruptcy. We disagree.
8 Hopp filed for bankruptcy on January 25, 2013, and obtained
a discharge on February 10, 2014. Plaintiffs' enforcement
action was filed ten months later, on December 19, 2014.
Plaintiffs contend Hopp failed to preserve the issue of the
effect of his bankruptcy discharge in the trial court because
he raised this issue "for the first and only time"
in his C.R.C.P. 59 motion after trial. Plaintiffs further
argue that a C.R.C.P. 59 motion, which contemplates amending
a judgment or seeking a new trial, was not the proper
procedural avenue for raising a bankruptcy discharge.
9 Hopp argues that he preserved his bankruptcy argument at
numerous points in the proceedings. First, Hopp contends that
he asserted in his answer to plaintiffs' complaint that
his bankruptcy discharge barred, at least in part, some of
plaintiffs' claims against him. He did not provide any
further details about his bankruptcy in the answer. After
trial, in his C.R.C.P. 59 motion to amend the court's
findings and conclusions, Hopp argued that his bankruptcy
discharge precluded the trial court's award of attorney
fees against him because they were awarded to compensate the
state for its actual pecuniary loss. The trial court declined
to address this argument in the context of Hopp's
C.R.C.P. 59 ...