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J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Gonzalez

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division

February 14, 2018

ESTEBAN GONZALEZ, and FIESTA MARKET & TAQUERIA, PNC, d/b/a Tequila Night Club, Defendants.


          MARK D. CLARKE, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc., moves for attorney fees and costs pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii), Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(2), and Local Rule 54.3. For the reasons stated below, the Court recommends Plaintiffs motion for attorney fees and costs be GRANTED.


         Plaintiff filed its Complaint on May 1, 2017. Plaintiff alleged Defendant Fiesta Market & Taqueria, Inc., by and through its president, Defendant Esteban Gonzalez, unlawfully intercepted and broadcast the May 2, 2015, "Fight of the Century" between professional boxers Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquaio. Plaintiff alleged Defendants did so for the purpose of obtaining a commercial advantage and without first obtaining a sublicense from Plaintiff, in violation of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 605, and the Cable Communications Policy Act, 47 U.S.C. § 553. Additionally, Plaintiff alleged "Defendants willfully took and appropriated Plaintiffs property for their personal financial gain" and did so without Plaintiffs permission. Compl. 36. Plaintiff requested damages in the amount of $10, 000 and $30, 000 for violations of 47 U.S.C. §§ 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II) and (e)(3)(C)(ii), respectively, as well as $9, 000 in damages resulting from its trespass to chattel claim.

         Defendant Fiesta Market & Taqueria, Inc., was served on May 11, 2017, and Defendant Esteban Gonzalez was served on May 23, 2017. Neither defendant answered within the allotted time provided by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(a)(1)(A)(i). Hence, on August 28, 2017, the Clerk entered an order of default against Defendants. Plaintiff subsequently moved for an entry of default judgment, which the Court granted in part and denied in part. [CM/ECF No. 20.]. Plaintiff was given fourteen days from the entry of default to submit its motion for attorney fees and costs. [CM/ECF No. 19.]. Plaintiff timely filed its motion for attorney fees and costs. [CM/ECF No. 21.]. No objection has been filed. Plaintiff seeks $5, 945.00 in attorney fees and $1, 105.00 in costs.


         Reasonable attorney fees are recoverable under 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii). The Court determines the amount of reasonable attorney fees by applying the "lodestar" method. Ferlandv. Conrad Credit Corp., 244 F.3d 1145, 1149 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2001). "The 'lodestar' method is calculated by multiplying the number of hours the prevailing party reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate." Id. (internal citation and quotation omitted). "In determining reasonable hours, counsel bears the burden of submitting detailed time records justifying the hours claimed to have been expended." Chalmers v. City of Los Angeles, 796 F.2d 1205, 1210 (9th Cir. 1986). "Where the documentation of hours is inadequate, the district court may reduce the award accordingly." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). A district court should also exclude from the lodestar fee calculation any hours that were not "reasonably expended, " such as hours that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary. Id. at 434.

         The district court must determine a reasonable hourly rate after considering the experience, skill, and reputation of the attorney requesting fees. Chalmers, 796 F.2d at 1210. Reasonable hourly rates are determined by reference to "prevailing market rates in the relevant community, " with emphasis on fees charged by lawyers of "comparable skill, experience, and reputation." Davis v. City of San Francisco, 976 F.2d 1536, 1546 (9th Cir. 1992), vacated on other grounds by 984 F.2d 345 (9th Cir. 1993) (internal citation and quotation omitted). Typically, the forum district represents the relevant legal community. Gates v. Deuhnejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1405 (9th Cir. 1992).

         The attorney requesting fees bears the burden of producing satisfactory evidence "that the requested rates are in line with those prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation." Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 n. 11 (1984). "Affidavits of the plaintiff's] attorney and other attorneys regarding prevailing fees in the community, and rate determinations in other cases, particularly those setting a rate for the plaintiff's] attorney, are satisfactory evidence of the prevailing market rate." United Steelworkers of Am. v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 896 F.2d 403, 407 (9th Cir. 1990). Additionally, courts in the District of Oregon have the benefit of several billing rate surveys, including the most recent Oregon State Bar 2017 Economic Survey ("2017 Survey"). The 2017 Survey contains data on attorney billing rates based on type of practice, geographic area of practice, and years of practice.[1]


         I. Attorney Fees

         As the "aggrieved" and prevailing party in this action, Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees. 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii); 47 U.S.C. § 605(d)(6). Plaintiff requests $5, 945.00 in attorney fees, consisting of 8.2 hours of attorney time at a rate of $350.00 per hour for the work of attorney Bruce H. Orr and 20.5 hours of paralegal time at a rate of $150.00 per hour for the work of paralegal Antony Nickles. In support of its fee request, Plaintiff submits Mr. Orr's declaration, which contains a chart depicting the services rendered and hours billed, as well as an explanation for the hourly rates charged. See Orr Decl. [CM/ECF No. 22.].

         The Court finds the attorney fee request reasonable. Mr. Orr's chart contains a detailed explanation of attorney and paralegal time expended and separates-i.e., itemizes-time for individual tasks. Fischer v. SJB-P.D. Inc., 214 F.3d 1115, 1121 (9th Cir. 2000). Additionally, the Court finds no hours "that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary" based on an assessment of what '"could reasonably have been billed to a private client.'" Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434; Gonzalez v. City of Maywood, 729 F.3d 1196, 1202 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Moreno v. City of Sacramento, 534 F.3d 1106, 1111 (9th Cir. 2008)).

         Second, the Court finds the hourly rate for both attorney and paralegal time to be reasonable. As stated, a reasonable hourly rate is determined by looking to the "prevailing market rates in the relevant community, " as well as the skill, experience, and reputation ...

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