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Securities and Exchange Commission v. Path America, LLC

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

March 23, 2017

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
PATH AMERICA, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          FIFTH ORDER REGARDING FEE APPLICATIONS

          JAMES L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court are six fee applications: (1) the fifth interim fee application of Receiver Michael A. Grassmueck (“the Receiver”) for $62, 532.00 in fees and $2, 262.38 in costs, which seeks an order authorizing disbursement of 80% of the requested fees and costs (Dkt. # 496); (2) the fourth interim fee application of Caron Architecture, LLC (“Caron”), which is the contracted architect for the Potala Shoreline and Potala Village Kirkland projects, for $14, 113.75 in fees and $449.52 in costs, which seeks an order authorizing disbursement of 80% of the requested fees and costs (Dkt. # 494); (3) the fifth interim fee application of the Receiver's general counsel, Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis, LLP (“Allen Matkins”), for $334, 626.75 in fees and $1, 071.95 in costs, which seeks an order authorizing disbursement of 80% of the requested fees and costs (Dkt. # 495); (4) the fifth interim fee application of Financial Forensics, the Receiver's forensic accountants, for $13, 014.00 in fees and $12.45 in costs, which seeks an order authorizing disbursement of 80% of the requested fees and costs (Dkt. # 497); (5) the fifth quarterly application for compensation from the Receiver's immigration counsel, Baker Donelson, for $7, 438.50 in fees and $23.67 in costs, which seeks an order authorizing disbursement of 80% of the total requested fees and costs (Dkt. # 491); and (6) the fifth quarterly fee application for the Receiver's local counsel, Karr Tuttle Campbell, P.S. (“Karr Tuttle”), for $12, 369.00 in fees and $918.50 in costs, which seeks an order authorizing disbursement of 80% of the total requested fees and costs (Dkt. # 489).

         Counsel for the Receiver filed all of the foregoing motions on February 14, 2017. (See Dkt. ## 489, 491, 494-97.) Plaintiff Securities and Exchange Commission does not oppose any of the fee applications. (SEC Resp. (Dkt. # 502) at 1.) Defendants Lobsang Dargey and Relief Defendant Path Othello, LLC (collectively, “Defendants”) oppose the fee applications in part, arguing that the Receiver and his attorneys and consultants have engaged in “continued needless dissipation of assets.”[1] (Def. Resp. (Dkt. # 503) at 1.) Defendants also assert that there “has not been sufficient progress to justify” the Receiver's expenditures. (Id. at 3.) Defendants argue that, instead of awarding the Receiver and Allen Matkins 80% of the requested amounts, as provided for in the Order Appointing Receiver, [2] the court should award these two entities only 50% of their requested fees and expenses. (Id. at 10.) Defendants cite no evidence in support of their objection to these two fee applications. (See generally id.) In contrast to Defendants' dearth of evidence, both the Receiver and Allen Matkins provide detailed descriptions of the work they performed during the fourth quarter of 2016. (See Grassmueck Decl. (Dkt. # 496-2); Grassmueck Group Invoice to Path America (Dkt. # 496-1); Allen Matkins Fee App. Ex. A (attaching Preliminary Billing Form, which consists of almost 80 pages of detailed time entries); Zaro Decl. (Dkt. # 495-2).) Accordingly, the court overrules Defendants' objections to the foregoing fee applications.

         The court finds that (1) the fees and costs requested in each of the fee applications listed above are reasonable and necessary, (2) the notice of the fee applications was appropriate, (3) the fee applications are made in accordance with the Order Appointing Receiver (see Ord. Appoint. Rec. ¶¶ 55-59), and (4) the services provided were of substantial benefit to the Receivership Estate. Accordingly, the court GRANTS the fee applications listed above (Dkt. ## 489, 491, 494-97) and APPROVES on an interim basis the following application amounts:

         Applicant:Period:Fees:Costs:Total:

Applicant:

Period:

Fees:

Costs:

Total:

Receiver Michael A. Grassmueck

October 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016

$62, 532.00

$2, 262.38

$64, 794.38

Caron

October 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016

$14, 113.75

$449.52

$14, 563.27

Allen Matkins

October 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016

$334, 626.75

$1, 071.95

$335, 698.70

Financial Forensics

October 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016

$13, 014.00

$12.45

$13, 026.45

Baker Donelson

October 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016

$7, 438.50

$23.67

$7, 462.17

Karr Tuttle

October 22, 2016, through December 31, 2016

$12, 369.00

$918.50

$13, 287.50

         The court further AUTHORIZES the Receiver to disburse the following percentages of the foregoing approved fees and costs at this time, as described below:

(1) The court AUTHORIZES the Receiver to disburse $51, 835.50 to the Receiver, which is 80% of the approved fees and costs;
(2) The court AUTHORIZES the Receiver to disburse $11, 650.62 to Caron, which is 80% of the approved fees and costs;
(3) The court AUTHORIZES the Receiver to disburse $268, 558.96 to Allen Matkins, which is 80% of the approved fees and costs;
(4) The court AUTHORIZES the Receiver to disburse $10, 421.16 to Financial Forensics, which is 80% of the approved fees and costs;
(5) The court AUTHORIZES the Receiver to disburse $5, 969.74 to Baker Donelson, which is 80% of the approved fees and costs; and
(6) The court AUTHORIZES the Receiver to disburse $10, 630.00 to Karr Tuttle, which is 80% of the ...

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