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Sweetwood Farm, Inc. v. Abdallah

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


March 17, 2009

SWEETWOOD FARM, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
RAFAT ABDALLAH, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES

(Document 24)

On February 10, 2009, Plaintiff Sweetwood Farm, Inc. ("Plaintiff") filed the present motion for attorney's fees. Pursuant to Local Rule 78-230(h), the Court deemed the matter suitable for decision without oral argument.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this action under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act ("PACA"), 7 U.S.C. § 499a et seq., on February 2, 2008. Plaintiff sought to recover amounts owed pursuant to a reparation order issued by the United States Department of Agriculture against Defendant Rafat Abdallah dba Superb Fruit Sales Co. ("Defendant").

On December 1, 2008, Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment, seeking judgment in the amount of $17,081.20, plus interest, as well as attorney's fees and costs. On December 30, 2008, the Court issued Findings and Recommendation that Plaintiff's motion for default judgment be granted and that Plaintiff be awarded reasonable attorneys's fees and costs pursuant to 7 U.S.C. § 499g(b). The Court adopted the Findings and Recommendation on February 6, 2009, and ordered that judgment be entered in the amount of $17,888.06, plus attorney's fees and costs.

Plaintiff filed the instant motion for attorney's fees on February 10, 2009.*fn1 Plaintiff requests a total of $4,328.75 in attorney's fees for work performed by Timothy V. Logoluso and other attorneys in his office. Defendant did not file an opposition.

DISCUSSION

Pursuant to 7 U.S.C. § 499g(b), a prevailing party in an action to enforce a reparation award issued by the Secretary of Agriculture is "allowed a reasonable attorney's fee, to be taxed and collected as a part of the costs of the suit."

Plaintiff requests a total of $4,328.75 in attorney's fees. According to the Declaration of Timothy V. Logoluso ("Logoluso Dec."), from January 29, 2008, through the date of the instant motion, he or members of his firm spent a total of 22.25 hours on this action. Logoluso Dec., ¶ 6. His rate, and that of other partners in his firm, is $225 per hour. Associates bill at the rate of $175 per hour. Logoluso Dec., ¶ 6.

As to the description of time spent, he states that attorney time was spent in the following areas: (1) oral and written communication with Plaintiff; (2) research and preparation of the Complaint; (3) research and preparation of an application for publication of summons*fn2 ; (4) research and preparation of a motion for entry of default; (5) research and preparation of a motion for entry of default judgment, and attendance at the hearing; and (6) research and preparation of the instant motion.

The Court therefore recommends that Plaintiff be awarded attorney's fees pursuant to 7 U.S.C. § 499g(b) in the amount of $4,328.75.

RECOMMENDATION

Based on the above, the Court RECOMMENDS the motion for attorney's fees be granted in the amount of $4,328.75.

This Findings and Recommendation is submitted to the Honorable Lawrence J. O'Neill, United States District Court Judge, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 631 (b)(1)(B) and Rule 305 of the Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. Within thirty (30) days (plus three days if served by mail) after being served with a copy, any party may serve on opposing counsel and file with the court written objections to such proposed findings and recommendations. Such a document should be captioned "Objections to Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations." Replies to the objections shall be served and filed within ten (10) days (plus three days if served by mail) after service of the objections. The Court will then review the Magistrate Judge's ruling pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1).

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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