The hours times hourly rate plus multiplier approach has been adopted as the sole way to calculate fees under fee-shifting contract or statutory provisions. However, this case holds that in fee-sharing cases under the common fund or common benefit theories of fee awards, the court may properly assess the fee as a percentage of the common recovery. In doing so, the court should cross-check the percentage fee award against an award calculated by the hours times rate method to see whether the implied multiplier needed to reach the percentage fee is within reason. If it finds the multiplier too high, the court may, but is not required, to adjust the percentage fee award to a lower percentage of the common fund.
California Supreme Court (Werdegar, J.; Liu, J., concurring); August 11, 2016; 2016 WL 4238619