United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
COUNTERCLAIMANT'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES
A. MENDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
American Contractors Indemnity Company (“ACIC”)
moves the Court to award $15, 795.50 in attorney fees
resulting from the granting of default judgment on its breach
of contract claim. Mot., ECF No., 39. No opposition has been
filed. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS IN PART
and DENIES IN PART ACIC's motion.
Factual and Procedural Background
Rexel brought a complaint to recover under the Miller Act, 40
U.S.C. § 3133, in February 2016. Compl., ECF No. 1. ACIC
filed its answer and cross-claim in August 2016, asserting
that the Court has supplemental subject matter jurisdiction
over its pendent state law claims. Answer, ECF No. 9; see
also Am. Cross-Claim, ECF No. 18. ACIC sought default
judgment against cross-defendants Hubzone Corporation,
Charmiane Burnett, and Larry Deon Lofton in June 2018. ECF
No. 24. The Court adopted the Magistrate Judge's findings
and recommendations, ECF No. 30, on March 29, 2019 and
awarded ACIC damages of $528, 574.44 and prejudgment
interest. Default Order, ECF No. 34. The Court directed the
Clerk “to enter judgment in ACIC's favor and
against Hubzone, Charmiane Burnett, and Larry Lofton on
ACIC's breach of contract claim.” Id. at
2. A day earlier, the Plaintiff and ACIC stipulated to
dismiss the case with prejudice. Dismissal Order, ECF No. 33.
On April 11, 2019, ACIC moved to stay proceedings against
Charmaine Burnett due to an automatic stay caused by a filing
in another court. Notice Stay, ECF No. 36. ACIC timely moved
for an award of attorney's fees under state law on April
19, 2019. See Mot.
parties bear their own attorneys' fees, absent
contractual or statutory authorization. Sheet Metal
Workers' Int'l Ass'n Local Union No. 359 v.
Madison Indus., Inc. of Arizona, 84 F.3d 1186, 1192 (9th
Cir. 1996). While Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2)
sets the procedure for claiming attorney's fees, there
must be an independent source of authority for an attorney
fee award. See MRO Commc'ns, Inc. v. Am. Tel. &
Tel. Co., 197 F.3d 1276, 1281 (9th Cir. 1999).
courts follow the forum state's law for awarding attorney
fees when exercising their subject matter jurisdiction over
supplemental state-law claims. See Id. Although
California law ordinarily does not allow for recovery of
attorneys' fees, Farmers Ins. Exch. v. Law Offices of
Conrado Joe Sayas, Jr., 250 F.3d 1234, 1237 (9th Cir.
2001), there are exceptions. One exception occurs in an
action to enforce the liability on a bond. Cal. Civ. Code
Section 9564 Requires an Attorney Fee Award to ACIC
asserts that it is entitled to an award of attorney's
fees as the prevailing party in this case. See Mot. “In
an action to enforce the liability on the bond, ”
California Civil Code mandates that the Court award the
prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee. Cal. Civ.
Code § 9564. The section does not define
“prevailing party, ” so the Court looks to how
California courts interpret the term. California courts have
found that a party has prevailed in this context where it
receives a final judgment that provides all the relief that
the party requested. Winick Corp. v. Safeco Ins.
Co., 232 Cal.Rptr. 479, 482 (Ct. App. 1986)
(interpreting “prevailing party” as to Cal. Civ.
Code § 3250, which was repealed in 2010 and reinstated
in 2012 as Cal. Civ. Code § 9564).
Plaintiff Rexel, Inc. brought a single claim under the Miller
Act against defendants Hubzone and ACIC. See Compl.
ACIC answered and filed five cross-claims against Hubzone;
its president, Charmaine Burnett; and its secretary, Larry
Lofton. See Answer. The Court granted ACIC's Motion for
Default Judgment, in which ACIC prevailed on its breach of
contract claim against Hubzone, Burnett, and Lofton and was
awarded damages. See Default Order. Thus, under the
prevailing legal standards, ACIC can be considered the
prevailing party in its cross-claims against Hubzone,
Burnett, and Lofton.
the Court finds that the provisions of Section 9564 are
satisfied. ACIC is the prevailing party against Hubzone,
Burnett, and Lofton in an action to enforce the liability on
the bond. The Court next determines what constitutes a
reasonable attorney fee in this case.
An Award of $14, ...