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Title Gilbert v. New Line Prods.

February 20, 2013

TITLE GILBERT
v.
NEW LINE PRODS., INC. ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable R. Gary Klausner, U.S. District Judge

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Present: The Honorable R. GARY KLAUSNER, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

Sharon L. Williams (Not Present) Not Reported N/A

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No.

Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants: Not Present Not Present

Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) Order Re: Reconsideration of Defendants' Motion for Attorneys' Fees as to Defendants' North Carolina Counsel (DE 670/671)

INTRODUCTION & FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On May 13, 2008, Sheri Gilbert ("Plaintiff") filed a Complaint against fifty defendants in the Eastern District of North Carolina. On March 31, 2009, the North Carolina court transferred the case to this Court. (DE 263.) On August 21, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint, alleging that the remaining defendants (collectively, "Defendants") copied her screenplay, "When Mom Is the Other Woman," and ultimately turned it into the movie "Monster in Law" (the "Movie"). Plaintiff wrote four different versions of her screenplay and obtained copyright registration for versions two, three, and four. Plaintiff alleged that the Movie and its draft screenplays infringed her works in violation of the Copyright Act of 1976. 17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq. Plaintiff also claimed that Defendants engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity to copy her work and share the profits in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act 18 U.S.C. § 1962, et seq.

On August 13, 2010, the Court granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (DE 624.) On December 6, 2010, it also granted Defendants' Motion for Attorneys' Fees ("Dec. 6 Order"). (DE 650.) Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff filed an appeal. (DE 654.) On September 13, 2012, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Court's orders, including the decision to award attorneys' fees and costs. However, it remanded in part the Dec. 6 Order awarding attorneys' fees to reconsider the specific amount awarded to Defendants' North Carolina counsel. (DE 670.)

In its Dec. 6 Order, the Court made specific findings as to the award of costs in the amount of $14,571, and attorneys' fees for Defendants' California counsel in the amount of $801,130. This amount totaled $815,701; however, the Court entered a final award of $894,983. (DE 650.) The discrepancy in the award amount is due to the omission of Defendants' North Carolina counsel attorneys' fees in the amount of $79,282. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the award for costs and the California counsel attorneys' fees. Thus, the only issue before the Court is the $79,282 in attorneys' fees incurred with respect to services provided by Defendants' North Carolina counsel--Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP ("Brooks LLP" or the "firm").

Presently before the Court is the reconsideration of Defendants' Motion for Attorneys' Fees. Plaintiff and Defendants have filed supplemental briefings addressing this matter. (DE 671, 674, and 680.) For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Attorneys' Fees with respect to services provided by Defendants' North Carolina counsel, Brooks LLP, in the amount of $79,282.

JUDICIAL STANDARD

The Copyright Act of 1976 permits a court to "award a reasonable attorneys' fee to the prevailing party." 17 U.S.C. ยง 505. Attorneys' fees are proper when either successful prosecution or successful defense of the action furthers the purposes of the Copyright Act. See Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 94 F.3d 553, 558 (9th Cir. 1996). In determining whether a party is entitled to attorneys' fees, courts must apply the same standard to prevailing plaintiffs and defendants. Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc., 510 U.S. 517, 534 (1994). "[A]n award of attorneys' fees to a prevailing ...


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