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Conti v. Corporate Services Group, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

September 2, 2014

MICHAEL CONTI, Plaintiff,
v.
CORPORATE SERVICES GROUP, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER

RICHARD A. JONES, District Judge.

This matter comes before the court on Plaintiff's motion for supplemental attorney fees and costs. Dkt. # 261. For the reasons stated herein, the court GRANTS the motion, but awards less than the approximately $95, 000 Plaintiff requested. The court awards supplemental attorney fees of $42, 995 and costs of $1, 536.20. As was the case with the court's previous cost and fee award, interest of 5.25% per year will begin accruing on this award as of the date of this order. Defendant Corporate Services Group, Inc. ("CSG") is liable for the entire award and interest; Defendant Jay Leon is responsible for 5.2% of this award. The clerk shall enter an amended judgment in accordance with this order.

In Part VII of the court's July 10 order addressing the parties' post-trial motions, the court addressed the legal standards applicable to Plaintiff's request for attorney fees and made several factual findings that the court need not repeat here. The motion before the court concerns Plaintiff's request for attorney fees he incurred after he filed his initial motion for attorney fees. The court rejects Defendants' contention that Plaintiff acted improperly by waiting until the conclusion of post-trial proceedings to file this motion. Plaintiff's only alternative to the approach he took was to file many piecemeal attorney fee motions, an outcome that would have benefitted no one.

A. Attorney Fees

Plaintiff requests more than $85, 000 for his attorneys' post-trial work, basing that request on about 220 hours of attorney time and 65 hours of paralegal and staff time. Attorneys and supporting staff expended that time on six significant tasks: (1) opposing Defendants' motion to stay enforcement of the judgment, (2) preparing a reply brief for Plaintiff's original motion for attorney fees, (3) preparing a motion and reply brief to supplement plaintiff's request for attorney fees based on information about Defendants' local counsel, (4) opposing Defendants' motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial (including a surreply brief), (5) filing a motion and reply in an effort to make Mr. Leon jointly and severally liable for the entire judgment in this case, and (6) filing this supplemental motion for attorney fees.[1] The court now considers Plaintiff's evidence of attorney fees for each task.

1. Opposition to Motion to Stay Enforcement of Judgment

Plaintiff's counsel expended just over 31 hours of attorney time on this task. Plaintiff met with only partial success. The court stayed enforcement of the judgment as to Mr. Leon, but not as to CSG. The court awards fees for 16 hours of attorney time to reflect Plaintiff's partial success.

2. Reply in Support of Original Attorney Fee Motion

Counsel expended just under 34 hours of attorney time on this task. Counsel expended about 10 hours of time crafting lengthy declarations from counsel that the court previously characterized as "irrelevant or barely relevant argument" responding to "what [counsel] perceived as personal attacks from Defendant's lead counsel." Jul. 10 Ord. (Dkt. # 259) at 44. The court will not award fees for preparing those declarations. The court awards fees for 24 hours of attorney time for this task.

3. Motion and Reply in Support of Supplement to Attorney Fee Motion

Counsel expended more than 25 hours of attorney time on this task. As the court previously explained, this motion was "marginally relevant, " "certainly not worth the time the parties spent disputing it, " and "ultimately made no difference to the court." Jul. 10 Ord. at 44. The court will award no fees for this task.

4. Opposition to Motion for New Trial and Motion for Judgment As a Matter of Law.

Plaintiff's counsel expended just over 73 hours of attorney time on this task, which was the most substantial of the post-trial tasks counsel tackled. More than 6 of those hours were spent drafting a surreply brief that was unnecessary. The ...


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