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Puri v. Khalsa

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

July 27, 2018

BIBIJI INDERJIT KAUR PURI; RANBIR SINGH BHAI; KAMALJIT KAUR KOHLI; KULBIR SINGH PURI, Plaintiffs,
v.
SOPURKH KAUR KHALSA; PERAIM KAUR KHALSA; SIRI RAM KAUR KHALSA; KARTAR SINGH KHALSA; KARAM SINGH KHALSA; SIRI KARM KAUR KHALSA; ROY LAMBERT; SCHWABE, WILLIAMSON & WYATT, an Oregon Professional Corporation; LEWIS M. HOROWITZ; LANE POWELL PC, an Oregon Professional Corporation; UNTO INFINITY, LLC, an Oregon Limited Liability Company; SIRI SINGH SAHIB CORPORATION, an Oregon non-profit corporation; GURUDHAN SINGH KHALSA; GURU HARI SINGH KHALSA; AJEET SINGH KHALSA; EWTC MANAGEMENT, LLC; DOES, 1-5, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL W. MOSMAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before me on Defendants Unto Infinity, LLC, Siri Singh Sahib Corporation, Kartar Singh Khalsa, and Sopurkh Kaur Khalsa's (collectively, “the UI Defendants”) Motions for Attorney Fees and Costs [438, 441]. For the reasons stated below, I GRANT in part and DENY in part the Motions.

         BACKGROUND

         This dispute revolved around the now deceased Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, who was known as Yogi Bhajan. Yogi Bhajan was a Sikh Dharma spiritual leader who helped promulgate the Sikh religion and Kundalini Yoga in the United States until his death in 2004. Plaintiffs in this case are the widow and three children of Yogi Bhajan. Defendants are various boards, board members, and other individuals involved in the management of organizations founded by Yogi Bhajan. Plaintiffs alleged in the operative Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) that the individual Defendants conspired to exclude them from management of some of these boards after Yogi Bhajan's death on October 6, 2004. SAC [234] ¶¶ 24-29. They sought declaratory relief placing them on the boards and monetary damages.

         As relevant here, Plaintiffs originally alleged a claim against the UI Defendants under the Oregon Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (ORICO), O.R.S. § 166.715 et seq. First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) 102; SAC [234]. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed this claim in May 2017, and I therefore dismissed the claim with prejudice. Order [296]. I then granted several motions to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment, thereby disposing of all of Plaintiffs' remaining claims. See Orders [292, 296, 373, 436]. Plaintiffs have appealed some of these rulings. [444].

         The UI Defendants now seek $28, 918.13 in attorney fees under ORICO's fees provision, O.R.S. § 166.725(14), and $46, 164.53 in costs under 28 U.S.C. § 1920 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d). Motion [438], Bill of Costs [441].

         DISCUSSION

         I. Attorney Fees

         A. Entitlement to attorney fees

         Oregon law governs whether attorney fees are available in this case. Northon v. Rule, 637 F.3d 937, 938 (9th Cir. 2011) (“State laws awarding attorneys' fees are generally considered to be substantive laws under the Erie doctrine . . . .”). Under ORICO, a court may award attorney fees to a prevailing party. Accident Care Specialists of Portland, Inc. v. Allstate Fire & Cas. Ins. Co., No. 3:11-CV-01033-MO, 2014 WL 2747632, at *5 (D. Or. June 16, 2014) (citing O.R.S. § 166.725(14)). It is undisputed that the UI Defendants prevailed on Plaintiffs' ORICO claim and thus may be awarded discretionary fees under O.R.S. § 166.725(14).

         B. Whether to award fees according to O.R.S. § 20.075(1)

         In deciding whether to award discretionary fees, I must consider the following factors outlined in O.R.S. § 20.075(1):

(a) The conduct of the parties in the transactions or occurrences that gave rise to the litigation, including any conduct of a party that was reckless, willful, ...

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