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Britt Interactive LLC v. A3 Media LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 26, 2019

BRITT INTERACTIVE LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
A3 MEDIA LLC, et al., Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs.
v.
TOM BRITT, et al., Third-Party Defendants.

          ORDER ON CONSOLIDATED APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Consolidated Application for Attorneys' Fees (Filing No. 293) filed by Plaintiffs Britt Interactive LLC and Townepost Network, Inc., and its principals, Third-Party Defendants Tom Britt and Jeanne Britt (collectively, “the Britt Parties” or “Plaintiffs”).

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case began in the Hamilton County, Indiana, Superior Court, and it concerns the parties' respective ownership rights and liabilities arising from certain License Agreements for the publication of magazines about and for the communities of Carmel, Indiana and Zionsville, Indiana. The Britt Parties sought and were granted, after a hearing before the Hamilton Superior Court, a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) against Defendants A3 Media, LLC, Collective Publishing, LLC, Yelena Lucas, and Neil Lucas (collectively, “the Lucas Parties”). Less than a week after issuance of the TRO, the Lucas Parties removed the case to this Court. Nearly immediately, the Britt Parties filed their motion for contempt of the TRO and a motion for preliminary injunctive relief. Discovery ensued, and numerous discovery disputes-including requests for sanctions relating to discovery matters-were resolved by the Court. Along this way, the Court ordered that the Britt Parties were entitled to their reasonable attorneys' fees for various matters. The parties have now settled all their disputes except for the fees issue; this Order determines the amount of fees to which the Britt Parties are entitled.

         In the course of the litigation, the Court has entered four separate orders that awarded attorneys' fees to the Britt Parties, in amounts to be determined, and one order (Filing No. 190) that awarded $1, 000.00 to the Lucas Parties. The four orders are:

         1. Order entered April 14, 2017 (Filing No. 191), awarding the Britt Parties reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in (a) filing their Motion to Compel Discovery (Filing No. 83) and Motion for Sanctions (Filing No. 138), and (b) communicating with the Lucas Parties after November 23, 2016, at 5:00 p.m., to obtain the documents that were supposed to have been produced at that time and to re-schedule the Lucases' depositions because of the belated production.

         2. Order entered April 26, 2017 (Filing No. 196), granting the Britt Parties' Motion to Compel and for sanctions, and awarding them their reasonable attorneys' fees in (a) communicating with the Lucas Parties about their discovery responses (including obtaining them, reading or responding to requests for additional time, and communicating regarding deficiencies), and (b) filing and briefing their Motion to Compel (Filing No. 130).

         3. Order entered March 5, 2018 (Filing No. 279), adopting the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation denying the Britt Parties' request for a default judgment, but awarding them their reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in connection with their review of the Lucas Parties' supplemental discovery responses and in bringing their motion for default judgment.

         4. Order entered March 6, 2018 (Filing No. 280), adopting the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation on the Britt Parties' Motion for Contempt and awarding them their reasonable attorneys' fees associated with bringing the contempt motion. This Order specifically noted that the amount of fees awarded in conjunction with the Britt Parties' efforts seeking contempt would take into account the level of success they obtained in connection with their contempt motion. SeeFiling No. 280 at p. 8 n. 1.

         On March 12, 2018, the court directed the Britt Parties to file one application for attorneys' fees to address all fees they are seeking as a result of the four orders awarding fees addressed above. They did so. The Britt Parties seek a total award of $88, 933.45 (which is net of the $1, 000 sanction against them). The Lucas Parties contend that any award should not exceed $4, 251.50, based on numerous objections included in their opposition brief and supplemental filings.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A reasonable attorneys' fee is generally determined by multiplying (1) a reasonable hourly rate by (2) the number of hours reasonably expended. E.g., Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983).

         A. Reasonable Hourly Rate

         The Lucas Parties do not challenge the hourly rates used by the Britt Parties' counsel. In this Circuit, a reasonable hourly rate presumptively is that rate the attorney actually charges to and receives from paying clients. E.g., Montanez v. Simon,755 F.3d 547, 553 (7th Cir. 2014); Mathur v. Board of Trustees, 317 F.3d 738, 734 and 744 (7th Cir. 2003). The Britt Parties' proof that the rates they used are ...


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