United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
BOARDS OF TRUSTEES OF THE SEATTLE AREA PLUMBING & PIPEFITTING INDUSTRY HEALTH & WELFARE TRUST, et al., Plaintiffs,
OPTIMAL FACILITY SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendant.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS'
FEES AND COSTS
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on submissions by the parties
regarding attorneys' fees, costs, and interest. Dkt. ##
23, 26. The Court awards Plaintiffs fees and costs in the
amount of $16, 840 and interest in the amount of $4, 610.47.
are the trustees of five labor-management funds. Dkt. # 13 at
2. They jointly administer the Master Labor Agreement (MLA)
between United Association Local #32 of Journeymen and
Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the
United States and Canada (Local 32) and the Mechanical
Contractors Association of Western Washington (MCA).
Id. The MLA incorporates the terms of
Plaintiffs' trust agreements governing employer
contributions to the funds (the “Trust
Agreements”). Dkt. # 14-1 at 12.
are bound to the terms of the MLA by a compliance agreement.
Dkt. # 13; Dkt. # 14-3. Defendant Optimal Facility Solutions,
LLC (“OFS”) signed its compliance agreement with
Plaintiffs on or around April 11, 2017. Id. The MLA
requires all signatory employers to submit a monthly
remittance report listing the following: the employees
performing covered work, the covered worked performed, and
the contributions owed to Plaintiffs for the hours worked.
Dkt. # 14 at 3. The MLA also requires the employer's
contributions to be postmarked no later than the 15th of the
following month, or else hand delivered by noon on the 18th.
Id. at 4; Dkt. # 14-2 at 11.
employer is delinquent on its contributions, the MLA permits
Plaintiffs to assess liquidated damages of 20 percent, charge
12 percent interest, and recover any associated fees and
costs. Dkt. # 14-2 at 11. Separately, most of the Trust
Agreements provide for liquidated damages up to 20 percent
for delinquent contributions. See Dkt. # 14 at 5-7.
Plaintiffs' records show that OFS's contributions
from May to November 2017 were delinquent (the “2017
delinquent contributions”). Dkt. # 14 at 10; Dkt. #
March 26, 2018, Plaintiffs sued for damages related to the
2017 delinquent contributions as well as for other
contributions that OFS failed to remit during 2017 and 2018.
Dkt. # 1. After the lawsuit was filed, an audit revealed that
OFS underreported hours of covered work and failed to remit
$22, 825.72 in contributions from April 2017 through March
2018 (the “2017 unpaid contributions”). Dkt. #
14-11. On September 25, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a motion for
summary judgment on damages relating to both the delinquent
and unpaid contributions. Dkt. # 13. On October 16, 2018, OFS
filed a response to the motion. Dkt. # 17. On October 19,
2018, Plaintiffs filed their reply. Dkt. # 18. On February
22, 2019, the Court granted in part and denied in part
Plaintiffs' motion, awarding Plaintiff unpaid
contributions in the amount of $22, 829.73 and $2.272.04 in
audit costs.Dkt. # 22. The Court requested that
Plaintiffs provide an updated accounting of interest on the
unpaid contribution as well as an updated accounting of
attorneys' fees. Dkt. # 22. Plaintiffs have submitted an
updated accounting of interest totaling $4, 610.47 and a
request of attorneys' fees totaling $17, 893.00. Dkt. #
1132(g)(2) is “mandatory and not discretionary.”
Operating Eng'rs Pension Trust v. Beck Eng'g
& Surveying, Co., 746 F.2d 557, 569 (9th Cir.1984)
(citations omitted). Section 1132(g)(2)(D) states that
“In any action ... to enforce section 1145[ ] of this
title in which a judgment in favor of the plan is awarded,
the court shall award the plan reasonable attorney's fees
and costs of the action, to be paid by the
defendant....” 29 U.S.C.A. § 1132(g)(2)(D).
Defendant concedes that Plaintiffs prevailed on the issue of
fees and interest, but argues that it should not pay fees
related to summary judgment because it prevailed on the issue
of liquidated damages. This position does not appear to be
supported by the case law. See, e.g., Parkhurst
v. Armstrong Steel Erectors, Inc., 901 F.2d 796 (9th
Cir. 1990) (upholding award of attorneys' fees where
employer argued that it did not contest its obligation to pay
and liquidated damages provision was void as penalty);
Hanson v. Koller Coatings Corp., Inc., 2011 WL
13214284 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 4, 2011).
Court turns to the calculation of attorneys' fees. The
proper way for the Court to determine attorneys' fees and
costs is by using the lodestar method. To calculate the
lodestar amount, the Court multiplies the number of hours
reasonably expended by the reasonable hourly rate. In re
Washington Pub. Power Supply Sys. Sec. Litig., 19 F.3d
1291, 1295 n.2 (9th Cir. 1994); United Steelworkers of
Am. v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 896 F.2d 403, 406 (9th Cir.
1990); Bowers v. Transamerica Title Ins. Co., 100
Wash.2d 581, 597 (1983). The hours reasonably expended must
be spent on claims having a “common core of facts and
related legal theories.” Martinez v. City of
Tacoma, 81 Wash.App. 228, 242-43 (1996); Webb v.
Sloan, 330 F.3d 1158, 1168-69 (9th Cir. 2003). The Court
discounts hours spent on unsuccessful claims, overstaffing,
duplicated or wasted effort, or otherwise unproductive time.
Chalmers v. City of Los Angeles, 796 F.2d 1205, 1210
(9th Cir. 1986), opinion amended on denial of
reh'g, 808 F.2d 1373 (9th Cir. 1987);
Bowers, 100 Wash.2d at 597, 600. The Court may
adjust the lodestar calculation “up or down to reflect
factors, such as the contingent nature of success in the
lawsuit or the quality of legal representation, which have
not already been taken into account in computing the
‘lodestar' and which are shown to warrant the
adjustment by the party proposing it.” Id. at
594 (citing Miles v. Sampson, 675 F.2d 5, 8 (1st
Cir. 1982)) (emphasis in original); see also
Chalmers, 796 F.2d at 1212.