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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Double Down Entertainment, LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

September 2, 2014

Joe Hand Promotions, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Double Down Entertainment, LLC d/b/a Hoopers Bar & Grill, Binh D. Thai, Kenneth J Kobulinsky, and Angel Ruiz, Defendants.

ORDER

MARGARET B. SEYMOUR, District Judge.

On March 13, 2014, the court issued an order and opinion granting summary judgment in favor of Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. ("Plaintiff") on its statutory 47 U.S.C. § 553 claim and state law conversion claim against Defendant Double Down Entertainment, LLC, d/b/a Hoopers Bar & Grill ("Defendant Double Down"); Binh D. Thai; Kenneth J. Kobulinsky; and Angel Ruiz (collectively "the individual Defendants"). ECF No. 75. In its order and opinion, the court directed Plaintiff to elect to receive either (1) statutory damages in the amount of $3, 300.00 pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(A)(ii) and enhanced statutory damages in the amount of $100.00 pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(B) or (2) actual damages in the amount of $1, 100.00 on Plaintiff's conversion claim. Id. at 18. The court also ordered Plaintiff to submit documentation of its attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(2)(C).

I. Election of Remedies

On March 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed a declaration including an attached document entitled "Election of Remedies." See ECF No. 77-1. In this document, Plaintiff indicates that it elects to recover statutory damages in the amount of $3, 300.00 pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(A)(ii) and enhanced statutory damages in the amount of $100.00 pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(B). Id. Pursuant to this election, the court awards Plaintiff $3, 400.00 in statutory damages under 47 U.S.C. § 553.

II. Attorneys' Fees and Costs

Also on March 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for attorneys' fees and costs. ECF No. 78. In this motion, Plaintiff requests attorneys' fees and costs in the aggregate amount of $11, 285.00. Id. This aggregate amount is itemized in Plaintiff's motion as follows:

Law Offices of Thomas P. Riley, P.C. $6, 375.00 Berry, Quackenbush & Stuart, P.A. $4, 910.00 __________ TOTAL $11, 285.00

Id. Plaintiff provides further documentation detailing the $6, 375.00[1] in fees and costs requested by the Law Offices of Thomas P. Riley, P.C. as well as the $4, 910.00 in fees and costs requested by Berry, Quackenbush & Stuart, P.A. See ECF Nos. 77, 78-1. Defendants have not filed a response in opposition to Plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees. Nevertheless, the court must still consider the reasonableness of Plaintiff's requested fees and costs.

The court's March 13, 2014 order and opinion determined that an award of costs and reasonable attorneys' fees pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(2)(C) is appropriate in this action to promote deterrence. See ECF No. 75 at 15. In determining what constitutes a reasonable number of hours and the appropriate hourly rates, the court must consider the following factors: (1) the time and labor expended; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions raised; (3) the skill required to properly perform the legal services rendered; (4) the attorney's opportunity costs in pressing the instant litigation; (5) the customary fee for like work; (6) the attorney's expectations at the outset of the litigation; (7) the time limitations imposed by the client or circumstances; (8) the amount in controversy and the results obtained; (9) the experience, reputation and ability of the attorney; (10) the undesirability of the case within the legal community in which the suit arose; (11) the nature and length of the professional relationship between attorney and client; and (12) attorney fees awarded in similar cases. Barber v. Kimbrell's, Inc., 577 F.2d 216, 226 (4th Cir. 1978). Although the court must consider all twelve of the factors, the court is not required to rigidly apply these factors, as not all factors may affect the fee in a given case. Reaves v. Marion Cnty., CA 4:08-1818-TLW-SVH, 2011 WL 1285739, at *2 (D.S.C. Feb. 16, 2011). "[T]hese factors should be considered in determining the reasonable rate and the reasonable hours, which are then multiplied to determine the lodestar figure which will normally reflect a reasonable fee." E.E.O.C. v. Servo News Co., 898 F.2d 958, 965 (4th Cir. 1990). In determining whether a rate is reasonable, the court is to consider "prevailing market rates in the relevant community." Rum Creek Coal Sales, Inc. v. Caperton, 31 F.3d 169, 175 (4th Cir. 1994) (quoting Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 (1984)).

With these factors in mind, the court must consider the two declarations detailing the attorneys' fees requested by Plaintiff. The declaration of Leonard Jordan ("Mr. Jordan"), counsel of record in this matter, indicates that Mr. Jordan has practiced law in South Carolina for over 38 years. ECF No. 77 at 1. The declaration further indicates that Mr. Jordan expended approximately 22.10 hours representing Plaintiff in this matter, and his services are routinely billed at $200.00 per hour. Id. Mr. Jordan provides an itemized description of his work in this matter within his declaration. Id. at 3-5. Based on these figures, Mr. Jordan requests $4, 370.00 in attorney's fees. Id. at 4. Mr. Jordan also seeks litigation costs of $540.00, including a $350.00 filing fee as well as a $190.00 fee for service of process. Id.

The court finds that the information provided by Mr. Jordan, coupled with the court's knowledge of rates in work of this type in this district, supports the attorney's fees and costs submitted on behalf of Mr. Jordan. See J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Brazilian Paradise, LLC, 789 F.Supp.2d 669, 681 (D.S.C. 2011) (finding that, in a similar case under 47 U.S.C. § 605, the information provided by local counsel coupled with the court's knowledge of rates in work of this type in this district supported a $200.00 hourly rate); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Scott's End Zone, Inc., 759 F.Supp.2d 742, 751 (D.S.C. 2010) (awarding the requested fees for service of process and appropriate investigative fees under 47 U.S.C. § 605). As such, the court awards $4, 370.00 in attorney's fees and $540.00 in costs, totaling $4, 910.00, as to Mr. Jordan.

The second declaration provided by Plaintiff details attorneys' fees and costs submitted by Thomas P. Riley, an California attorney who is not an attorney of record in the case. Mr. Riley's declaration requests fees for 22.8 hours of work performed by the following four professionals in his office: (1) Mr. Riley himself; (2) a research attorney; (3) a paralegal; and (4) an administrative assistant. See ECF No. 78-1 ...


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