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J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Duong

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

April 14, 2014

J&J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
LEE DUONG, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS

LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

Plaintiff J&J Sports Productions, Inc. ("Plaintiff") brought this action against Defendants Lee Duong, individually and doing business as Nha Em, and Satom, LLC, an unknown business entity doing business as Nha Em (collectively, "Defendants"), arising from Defendants' allegedly unauthorized public exhibition of a televised sporting event. Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs. See Pl.'s Mot. Attys' Fees and Costs. ("Mot."), ECF No. 22. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds this matter appropriate for determination without oral argument. Accordingly, the hearing set for May 22, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. is VACATED. For the reasons discussed below, the Court hereby GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff J&J Sports Productions, Inc. is a sports and entertainment programming distributor, and alleges it secured the exclusive domestic commercial distribution rights to broadcast the "Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Miguel Cotto, WBA Super World Light Middleweight Championship Fight Program" (the "Program"), which telecast nationwide on May 5, 2012. See Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶ 16. Plaintiff then entered into sub-licensing agreements with various commercial entities throughout the United States, wherein it granted limited public exhibition rights to these entities in exchange for licensing fees. See Compl. ¶ 17. On May 5, 2012, investigator Gary Gravelyn observed the Program being displayed at Defendant's commercial establishment, Nha Em, located in San Jose, California. See Compl. ¶¶ 7-14; Mot. for Default J., ECF No. 17-1, at 2. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants intercepted the Program unlawfully, and intentionally exhibited it for the purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage. See Compl. ¶¶ 19-20.

On May 1, 2013, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendants for: (1) violation of the Federal Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 605, et seq.; (2) violation of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 553, et seq.; (3) conversion; and (4) violation of California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200. See Compl. On June 13, 2013, Plaintiff and Satom, LLC, reached a settlement. ECF No. 9. Satom, LLC, was subsequently dismissed from the case. ECF No. 15.

On August 13, 2013, the Clerk of the Court granted Plaintiff's request and entered default against Defendant Lee Duong. See ECF No. 14. On August 28, 2013, Plaintiff moved for default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See ECF No. 17. On January 8, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for default judgment. See ECF No. 21. The Court did not award attorneys' fees and costs at the time because Plaintiff's motion for default judgment did not specifically request for attorneys' fees and costs; nor did the motion for default judgment provide any evidence to support providing such an award. Id. at 8 n.3. Thus, the Court advised Plaintiff's counsel that if Plaintiff's counsel "wishes to recover attorney's fees and costs, [Plaintiff's counsel] must file an affidavit and supporting documentation within 30 days of [the] Order, including a curriculum vitae or resume as well as billing and cost records to justify such an award." Id.

On February 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed its Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs. ECF No. 22. No opposition was filed.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Attorneys' Fees

Reasonable attorneys' fees are recoverable under both 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii) and 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(2)(C). The court determines the amount of reasonable attorneys' fees by applying the "lodestar" method. Ferland v. Conrad Credit Corp., 244 F.3d 1145, 1149 n.4 (9th Cir. 2001). The lodestar is calculated by multiplying the number of hours the prevailing party reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate. Id.

"In determining reasonable hours, counsel bears the burden of submitting detailed time records justifying the hours claimed to have been expended." Chalmers v. City of Los Angeles, 796 F.2d 1205, 1210 (9th Cir. 1986). "Where the documentation of hours is inadequate, the district court may reduce the award accordingly." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). A district court should also exclude from the lodestar fee calculation any hours that were not "reasonably expended, " such as hours that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary. See id. at 433-34; see also J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Napuri, No. C 10-04171 SBA, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116238, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 15, 2013).

Next, "the district court must determine a reasonable hourly rate, considering the experience, skill, and reputation of the attorney requesting fees." Chalmers, 796 F.2d at 1210. Reasonable hourly rates are calculated by reference to "prevailing market rates in the relevant community, " with a special emphasis on fees charged by lawyers of "comparable skill, experience, and reputation." Davis v. City of San Francisco, 976 F.2d 1536, 1545-46 (9th Cir. 1992), vacated in part on other grounds by 984 F.2d 345 (9th Cir. 1993). As a general rule, the forum district represents the relevant legal community. See Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1405 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 979 (9th Cir. 2008) (in determining the prevailing market rate, "generally, the relevant community is the forum in which the district court sits").

The fee applicant bears the burden of producing satisfactory evidence "that the requested rates are in line with those prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience, and reputation." Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895, n.11 (1984). "Affidavits of the plaintiff[s] attorney and other attorneys regarding prevailing fees in the community, and rate determinations in other cases, particularly those setting a rate for the plaintiff[s] attorney, are satisfactory evidence of the prevailing market rate." United Steelworkers of America v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 896 F.2d 403, 407 (9th Cir. 1990).

Here, Plaintiff requests a total of $2, 002.50 in attorneys' fees based on 2.15 hours of work at an hourly rate of $450 performed by Thomas P. Riley ("Riley"), as well as 3 hours of work at an hourly rate of $150 performed by an unidentified paralegal ("PRL"), and 7.80 hours of work at an hourly rate of $75 performed by an unidentified administrative assistant ("AA"). Declaration of Plaintiff's Counsel Regarding Attorneys' Fees and Costs ("Riley Decl."), ECF 22-1, Ex. 1; see also Riley Decl. ¶ 7 (providing the description of the acronyms used in the billing records). Riley declares that an unidentified research attorney ("RSA") and an unidentified associate attorney ("ASC") performed work on this case. Riley Decl. ¶ 7. However, there is no evidence that the independent research attorney and associate attorney actually worked on the case. The chart describing the services rendered ...


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