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Johnson v. Storix, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

June 27, 2017

ANTHONY JOHNSON, Plaintiff and Counter-Defendant,
v.
STORIX, INC., a California Corporation, Defendant and Counter-Claimant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO QUASH THE WRIT OF EXECUTION AND DENYING MOTION TO STAY POST-JUDGMENT DISCOVERYAND ENFORCEMENT OF THE JUDGMENT [DOC. NO. 268]

          MARILYN L. HUFF, District Judge.

         On November 16, 2016, the Court entered a final amended judgment, which included an award for attorneys' fees in the amount of $555, 118.64, in favor of Defendant and Counter-Claimant Storix, Inc. and against Plaintiff and Counter-Defendant Anthony Johnson. (Doc. No. 246.) On November 28, 2016, Johnson filed a motion to stay enforcement of the judgment pending appeal. (Doc. No. 251.) Storix filed an opposition, and the Court held telephonic status conferences on November 17, November 29, and December 13, 2016. (Doc. Nos. 248, 252, 254, 255.) In a written order, the Court granted the motion to stay enforcement of the judgment pending appeal on the condition that Johnson must post a supersedeas bond in the amount of the full judgment. (Doc. No. 256.) The Court ordered Johnson to file notice of the supersedeas bond with the Court by December 20, 2016. (Id. at 4.)

         On December 20, 2016, Johnson filed a motion to stay execution of the judgment with the Ninth Circuit. (See Doc. No. 258 at 3.) On December 23, 2016, Johnson filed an ex parte motion in this Court to continue the stay until the Ninth Circuit could rule on the motion filed with that court. (Doc. No. 258.) This Court granted the motion, extending the stay of enforcement for 30 days from December 27, 2016. (Doc. No. 259.) The Ninth Circuit denied Johnson's motion to stay on January 13, 2017. (Doc. No. 260.)

         Johnson did not file a notice of a supersedeas bond with this Court. On January 27, 2017, the Clerk of Court issued an abstract of judgment and a writ of execution. (Doc. Nos. 263-64.) On April 28, 2017, Storix served Johnson with post-judgment written discovery. (Doc. No. 268-2 at 3, ¶ 9.) On May 30, 2017, Johnson responded to each discovery request with the following objection:

Objection. As set forth in plaintiff's concurrently filed motion, post-judgment discovery and other proceedings to enforce the judgment should be stayed pending the outcome on appeal in accordance with Rule 69(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and California law.

(Doc. No. 269-1.) In addition to this objection, Johnson asserted various forms of privilege in response to some of the discovery requests. (Id.) On May 31, 2017, Johnson filed a motion for (1) an order quashing Defendant's writ of execution, (2) a protective order staying post-judgment discovery, and (3) an order staying enforcement of the judgment. (Doc. No. 268.) Storix filed an opposition on June 19, 2017, and Johnson filed a reply on June 26, 2017. (Doc. Nos. 269, 270.)

         Pursuant to its discretion under Local Rule 7.1(d)(1), the Court determines that the motion is fit for resolution without oral argument. Accordingly, the Court submits the motion on the parties' papers and vacates the scheduled hearing. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies Johnson's motion and overrules his objections to post-judgment discovery.

         Discussion

         I. Johnson is not entitled to a stay of enforcement pending appeal

         Johnson began this action on August 8, 2014 by filing a complaint against Storix for copyright infringement of a software program. (Doc. No. 1.) Storix filed a counterclaim seeking a declaratory judgment that it did not infringe any copyright and that it owned all copyrights in the software. (Doc. No. 5.) On December 15, 2015, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Storix and against Johnson. (Doc. No. 160.) On January 4, 2016, Storix filed a motion pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505 seeking costs not taxable under 28 U.S.C. § 1920 as well as attorneys' fees. (Doc. No. 165.) The parties briefed the issue and attended mediation sessions. (Doc. Nos. 180, 184, 202, 204.)

         On June 16, 2016, the Supreme Court issued an opinion in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 136 S.Ct. 1979 (2016). At the Court's request, each party briefed the Court on how that decision should impact the Court's analysis of Storix's motion for costs and fees on July 18, 2016. (Doc. Nos. 217-18, 223-24.) On November 16, 2016, the Court entered a final amended judgment in favor of Storix, which included an award for attorneys' fees. (Doc. No. 246.) Storix now seeks to enforce that judgment, but Johnson argues that enforcement must be stayed pending appeal.

         Johnson argues that under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, post-judgment enforcement must follow California law. (Doc. No. 268-1 at 3-4.) California law purportedly prohibits enforcement of costs-only judgments pending appeal. (Id. at 4-5.) Johnson argues that the award of attorney's fees is a costs-only judgment. Therefore, according to Johnson, he is not required to post a supersedeas bond while his case is on appeal. In support of his position, Johnson cites Rule 69(a), which provides:

A money judgment is enforced by a writ of execution, unless the court directs otherwise. The procedure on execution-and in proceedings supplementary to and in aid of judgment or execution-must accord with the procedure of the state where the court is ...

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