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SPF Brewery Blocks, LLC v. ART Institute of Portand, LLC

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

April 4, 2019

SPF BREWERY BLOCKS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ART INSTITUTE OF PORTAND, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL W. MOSMAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before me on Plaintiffs Motion for Attorney Fees and Expenses [21] and Bill of Costs [23]. Plaintiff seeks $44, 167.00 in attorney fees, $393.09 in expenses, and $303.00 in costs. Defendant did not file a response to Plaintiffs motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff SPF Brewery Blocks (SPF) brought this action against Defendant Art Institute of Portland (AI) in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Todaro Decl. [1] Attach. 1 at 5. SPF alleged that AI, its tenant, had defaulted on its lease for the property located at 1122 N.W. Davis Street in Portland, Oregon. Id. The lease was guaranteed by AFs former parent company, Education Management Company (EMC), which declared bankruptcy in June 2018. Id. at 6. EMC's bankruptcy was an "event of default" under the terms of the lease. Id. SPF brought this state law forcible entry and detainer (FED) action in an attempt to quickly recover its property. Mot. to Remand [4] at 2; see Or. Rev. Stat. § 105.135(2) (requiring appearance in an FED action seven days after the payment of filing fees). An FED judgment results in restitution of the property, an award of costs, and attorney fees; monetary damages are not permitted in an FED action. See Or. Rev. Stat. § 105.145. AI timely removed to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Notice of Removal [1] at 1. SPF sought remand of the case to state court, arguing that an FED action cannot be removed on the basis of diversity jurisdiction because there is no amount in controversy-the only remedy available is restitution of the property. Mot. to Remand [4] at 6. In the alternative, SPF argued that remand was appropriate on abstention principles. Id. at 9-10.

         Although SPF cited cases from this District in which diversity jurisdiction was denied because an FED action did not admit of an amount in controversy, I found those cases distinguishable and I denied SPF's motion to remand. Order [14]. Shortly thereafter, the parties filed a stipulation stating that AI was in default of its lease due to EMC's bankruptcy and judgment was entered in favor of SPF. Stipulated J. [20] at 1-2.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Entitlement

         SPF does not argue that it is entitled to attorney fees as a prevailing party. Instead, SPF brings a contractual claim that it is entitled to reasonable attorney fees. Mot. [21] at 6. The lease agreement between SPF and AI stated that, in the event of default, SPF was entitled to "all damages caused by the default, including reasonable attorney fees.... [and] all legal expenses and other related costs incurred by Landlord following Tenant's default." Notice [9] Ex. A at 46. AI also stipulated to SPF's entitlement to "reasonable attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses incurred herein." Stipulated J. [20] at 2.

         II. Amount

         A. Attorney Fees

         Oregon law governs the award of attorney fees. Northern 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 . . .."). Oregon courts generally award attorney fees based on the lodestar method, in which courts multiply the reasonable number of hours spent on the case by a reasonable hourly rate. See Strawn v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Or., 297 P.3d 439, 447-48 (Or. 2013). The lodestar may be adjusted based on the factors specified in Or. Rev. Stat. § 20.075. Alexander Mfg., Inc. Emp. Stock Ownership & Tr. v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 688 F.Supp.2d 1170, 1181 (D. Or. 2010). My analysis will therefore focus on whether SPF's requested hourly rates and hours spent on this litigation are reasonable. SPF requests the following hours and rates:

Person

Hours

Hourly Rate

Amount

Amy Edwards

29.5

$490-525.00

$14, 966.00

Andrew Solomon

8.7

$485-500.00

$4, 228.50

Reed Morgan

58.7

$380-390.00

$22, 469.00

Tyler Killeen

1.7

$325.00

$552.50

Julie Brown

6.1

$270.00

$1, 647.00

Curt Tiegen

3.8

$80.00

$304.00

TOTAL

$44, 167.00

         As an initial matter, I find that SPF has timely produced an adequate documentation of its billing records. SPF submitted an accounting of its attorney fees attached to the sworn declaration of Amy Edwards, which suffices as a signed and detailed statement of the amount of attorney fees. See Or. R. Civ. P. 68 C(4).

         1. ...


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