United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on defendants Roper St. Francis
Physicians Network (“the Network”), CareAlliance
Health Service (“CareAlliance”), Douglas Bowling
(“Bowling”), John J. Hallett, Jr., M.D.
(“Hallett”), Mohammad Daud Nawabi, M.D.
(“Nawabi”), and Steven D. Shapiro, M.D's
“defendants”) motion for attorney's fees. For
the reasons set forth below, the court grants in part and
denies in part defendants' motion, granting only for
those fees defendants incurred seeking arbitration after the
May 29, 2015 mediation in the amount of $8, 108.50 and
denying as to any fees that defendants incurred before the
May 29, 2015 mediation. Pursuant to the arbitrator's
decision, the court grants Waring fees for the wage payment
claim for the period between July 14, 2014 and October 16,
2014 and orders that the parties bear their own costs for the
case arises out of an employment dispute between plaintiff
Eveline Adams Waring, M.D. (“Waring”) and
defendants. In November 2013, Waring and the Network entered
into the most recent Employment Agreement
(“Agreement”), which became effective November 9,
2013 and had a one-year term. Am. Compl. ¶ 18. The
Agreement contained the following mediation and arbitration
22.1 Mediation. Network and Physician expressly
agree that they shall seek mediation as their preferred
method of handling problems, disputes or other matters in
question that may arise between them from time to time. The
mediation process may be initiated by either party by such
party providing written notice to the other party at such
time when the parties have been unable to reach a mutually
agreed upon resolution to a problem or dispute within a
reasonable period of time, and at such time as it appears
that such a resolution is not likely to be attainable.
22.2 Arbitration. In the event that the parties are
unable to reach a mutually agreed upon resolution through
mediation, then upon the termination of the mediation
process, the parties expressly agree to participate in
arbitration proceedings and to be bound by the decision of
the arbitrator. Such arbitration shall be conducted under the
applicable guidelines and rules of the American Health
Lawyers Association, shall take place in Charleston, South
Carolina, and shall be concluded as promptly as possible.
Each of the parties will use all reasonable efforts to ensure
that any arbitration or mediation proceedings is completed
within sixty (60) days following notice of a request for such
arbitration or mediation. Network and Physician desire that
this arbitration provision be interpreted in accordance with
the South Carolina Arbitration Act, found at Section 15-48-1
of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended.
22.3 Expenses; Attorneys'
Fees. All expenses incurred for the services of a
mediator shall be shared equally by the parties participating
in the mediation process. All expenses incurred for the
arbitration proceeding, including reasonable attorneys'
fees, shall be paid by the party or parties so ordered in the
decision of the arbitrator.
Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. A. On May 23, 2014, as a result of
ongoing disputes with the Network, Waring demanded mediation.
Am. Compl. ¶ 64. The Network did not respond to the
demand. Id. On June 13, 2014, Waring terminated the
agreement, ending her employment with the Network and again
requesting mediation. Id. ¶ 67. On July 16,
2014, Hallett and Shapiro filed a claim with the South
Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation
(“LLR”), making allegedly false statements
regarding Waring's conduct. Id. ¶ 70. On
July 23, 2014, Waring again notified the Network that it had
“failed to respond to the demand for mediation as
required by the Agreement.” Pl.'s Resp. Ex. 1.
around September 2, 2014, the parties agreed to mediation on
two days in October. Waring's case was apparently going
to be mediated by David McCormack along with a similar case
filed by Dr. Karla Pou. McCormack requested that Waring's
counsel provide a complaint to defendants in order to
formulate a defense. On October 1, 2014, shortly before
mediation was set to begin, Waring filed suit in the South
Carolina Court of Common Pleas against the Network, Bowling,
Hallett, and Nawabi. In an email the same day,
defendants' counsel indicated that she could not accept
service and that she would “just have to move to
enforce arbitration and  seek costs against Dr. Waring.
David just wanted a Complaint drawn up so we knew what was
being mediated.” Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss,
Ex. F. By letter dated October 3, 2014, defendants'
counsel canceled mediation, stating that “[a]lthough we
could go forward with a mediation even with a court not yet
ruling on a Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative to
Enforce Arbitration, it would be a pointless waste of money,
much better spent on aggressively pursuing our own
positions.” Defs.' Reply to Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. H.
On November 4, 2014, defendants removed the case to this
court. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, or in the
alternative, to compel arbitration that same day. The court
held a hearing on December 18, 2014 on the motion to dismiss,
or alternatively, to compel arbitration. The court also
granted leave for Waring to file an amended complaint.
December 23, 2014, Waring filed an amended complaint,
alleging eight causes of action: (1) violation of the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”); (2) retaliation in
violation of the FLSA; (3) breach of contract; (4) violation
of the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act
(“SCPWA”); (5) defamation; (6) violation of the
South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act
(“SCUTPA”); (7) abuse of process; and (8)
malicious prosecution. The amended complaint added Shapiro
and CareAlliance as defendants and added two causes of action
for abuse of process and malicious prosecution. On February
12, 2015, defendants filed a motion to dismiss Waring's
defamation and SCUTPA claims. Waring responded on March 2,
2015, and defendants filed a reply on March 12, 2015. The
court held a hearing on April 14, 2015. The court instructed
defendants that it was not necessary to refile their motion
to dismiss at that time. The court notified the parties by
letter dated June 4, 2015 that it was inclined to compel
arbitration. ECF No. 64, Ex. 3. The parties mediated the
action on May 29, 2015 before mediator Jon Austen, in
accordance with the court's scheduling order requiring
the parties to do so. ECF No. 43.
29, 2015, Waring filed a letter with the court requesting a
status conference and stating, in relevant part, that during
discovery, “depositions were taken and there is
testimony indicating that after [Waring's] employment
ended[, ] [d]efendants took actions that [Waring] contend[s]
were not related to her employment, and, thus, not subject to
arbitration.” ECF No. 54. Defendants filed a motion for
summary judgment on June 30, 2015. Waring responded to the
motion for summary judgment on July 17, 2015, and defendants
replied on July 27, 2015.
response to Waring's request, the court scheduled a
status conference for August 12, 2015. The court allowed
Waring to file supplemental briefing to address the issue.
ECF No. 63. On August 20, 2015, the court requested that
defendants file a supplemental motion to compel arbitration
that addressed the arbitration agreement's application to
the additional defendants and additional claims added in the
amended complaint. ECF No. 64, Ex. 2. The court also
instructed the parties to address the additional issues that
arose after depositions, including those that Waring
referenced in her letter to the court requesting a status
conference. Id. On August 31, 2015, defendants filed
a supplemental memorandum. ECF No. 64. Waring responded on
September 9, 2015. ECF No. 64. On September 30, 2015, the
court issued an order compelling arbitration, noting that
Waring's supplemental briefing was “larg[ely] a
recitation of the facts underlying each claim rather than a
brief in support of their opposition to defendants'
motion to compel arbitration.” ECF No. 69 at 8.
filed the present motion for attorney's fees on October
14, 2015. Defendants request $24, 849.50 for work associated
with the successful motion to dismiss. In support of the
reasonableness of the fees, defendants attach the affidavit
of Katherine Helms, defendants' attorney, attesting to
the time spent on the matter and the reasonableness of the
fees. Defs.' Mot. Ex. A. Defendants also attach the
billing records of the time spent on this matter from October
14, 2014 to September 30, 2015. Id. Waring filed a
response in opposition to the motion on November 2, 2015. On
November 24, 2015, Waring filed her Arbitration Complaint.
Defs.' Supp. Mot. Ex. A. Defendants filed an answer to
Waring's complaint on January 29, 201. Defs.' Resp.
1. In her Arbitration Complaint, Waring abandoned her FLSA
claims, the breach of contract ...