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Glas-Weld Systems, Inc. v. Boyle

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

March 31, 2017

GLAS-WELD SYSTEMS, INC., an Oregon Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL P. BOYLE dba SURFACE DYNAMIX; and CHRISTOPHER M, BOYLE, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          ANN AIKEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Glas-Weld Systems, Inc., moves for an order dismissing all claims without prejudice and setting the amount of sanctions against defendants Michael P. Boyle, dba Surface Dynamix, and Christopher Boyle, Glas-Weld Systems, Inc., Motion for Order Setting Amount of Sanctions and Dismissing all Claims without Prejudice ("PL's Mot. Dismiss and Set Sanctions") (Doc. 272). For the following reasons, plaintiffs motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 30, 2015, after describing "the lengthy and convoluted procedural history of this case and the parties' disputes [that] [we]re weil-documented by plaintiffs filings and the docket of record, " this Court granted plaintiffs motion for sanctions against defendants and ordered that "defendants shall pay the attorney fees incurred by plaintiff in seeking to obtain the expert reports during the time period from April 6, 2015, through May 4, 2015; filing the motion for order to show cause (doc. 186) and supporting reply (doc. 202); the motion to continue depositions (doc, 199); and the response in opposition to defendants' emergency motion to dismiss (doc. 214), " Doc. 217 at 12.

         On October 8, 2015, this Court denied defendants' Motion for Reconsideration and specifically found that "[c]ontrary to defendants' assertions, defendants were given notice and the opportunity to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed for the failure to follow court orders and produce expert reports, The responsibilities of following court orders falls equally on both defendants, and the Court has explained why sanctions were imposed, " Doc. 226 (emphasis supplied). This Court further found that "defendants' repeated complaints about plaintiffs production of damages information has been addressed and does not excuse defendants' failures in any event." Id.

         On March 31, 2016, this Court entered an Order holding that the appropriate amount of sanctions would be determined at such time that it issued an Order resolving summary judgment, Doc. 253. This case was stayed on October 3, 2016, after Michael Boyle filed a petition for bankruptcy. Doc. 271. On January 30, 2017, after learning that Michael Boyle's bankruptcy had been discharged under 17 U.S.C. § 727, plaintiff filed the instant motion that is presently before this Court. PL's Mot. Dismiss and Set Sanctions 3 (citing Id. at Ex. A).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff first argues that "in view of Michael Boyle's debts pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 727 on or about December 22, 2016, and the fact that Christopher Boyle is believed to no longer work in the glass repair industry or sell any accused products, " pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41, the Court should "dismiss all claims in this mater without prejudice. Id. at 2. Defendants "do not object to plaintiffs Motion to Dismiss without Prejudice." Defs.' Resp. to PL's Mot, Dismiss and Set Sanctions 1 (Doc. 277). Because plaintiffs motion - insofar as it seeks dismissal of this action without prejudice - is unopposed by defendants, this Court grants plaintiffs unopposed motion to dismiss without prejudice.

         Plaintiff next argues that this Court awarded its reasonable attorneys' fees (doc. 217 at 12) and reaffirmed that both defendants were liable for these fees (doc. 226) and, therefore, "the discharge of Michael Boyle's debts pursuant to 11 U.S.C, §727 does not affect Christopher Boyle's liability with respect to the award sanctions" totaling $19, 325.50. Id. at 3 (citing doc. 220). Plaintiff, therefore, asks the Court to set the amount of fees to be paid by Christopher Boyle. Id.

         Defendants respond that plaintiff has "failed to draw any distinction between the defendants, their respective roles in the sanctioned behavior, and the unequal responsibility for their respective share of the fees." Defs.' Resp. to PL's Mot. Dismiss and Set Sanctions 1, This Court finds defendants' argument unpersuasive. As stated above, this Court has already explained ad nauseam why sanctions were imposed and has held that the responsibility of following this Court's orders "falls equally on both defendants." The discharge of Michael Boyle's debts pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §727 does not mitigate Christopher Boyle's equal liability with respect to the award sanctions. As such, this Court finds that Christopher Boyle is responsible for one half of the total sanctions - his equal share - as calculated below.

         In determining a reasonable attorney fee, the court first multiplies "the number of hours the prevailing party reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate." Morales v. City of San Rafael, 96 F.3d 359, 363 (9th Cir. 1996) (as amended) (discussing the lodestar method). After calculating this amount, the court considers whether it is necessary to adjust the presumptively reasonable lodestar figure on the basts of twelve factors[1] set forth in Kerr v. Screen Guild Extras, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir. 1975), cert, denied, 425 U.S. 951 (1976). Id.

         The court is required to ensure an award's reasonableness, regardless of whether the opposing party objected to it. Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1400-02 (9th Cir. 1992), The court also possesses "considerable discretion ... in determining what attorney's fee is reasonable." Webb v. Ada Cnty., Idaho, 195 F, 3d 524, 526-27 (9th Cir. 1999), cert, denied, 537 U.S. 948 (2002). Accordingly, "the reasonable fee, as calculated by the district court, may fall short of the actual fee that the .. . lawyer charges." Corder v. Gates, 947 F.2d 374, 378 n.3 (9th Cir. 1991) (citation and internal quotations omitted).

         Here, plaintiff seeks $19, 325.0, comprised of: $2, 450 in fees attributable to James Gale's work over 4.9 hours at $500 per hour; $990 in fees attributable to Rafeal Perez-Pineiro's work over 2 hours[2] at $495 per hour; $11, 952 in fees attributable to Javier Sobrado's work over 33.2 hours at $360 per hour; $2, 311.50 in fees attributable to David Stahl's work over 6.9 hours at $335 per hour; and $1, 521 in fees attributable to work performed by "its local counsel, Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP" over 7.8 hours at $195 per hour.[3] Decl, of Javier Sobrado Regarding Awarded Fees ("Sobrado Decl") (Doc. 220) 2-3; Id. Ex. A, B.

         In support of these fees, plaintiff submits that Mr. Gale had 31 years of experience during the relevant time period, Mr. Perez-Pineiro had 13 years of experience, Mr. Sobrado had 7 years of experience, and Mr, Stahl had 4 years of experience.[4] Plaintiff makes no assertions and presents ...


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