United States District Court, E.D. California
the Court is Defendant Leprino Foods Company, Inc.'s
(“Leprino”) Application for Attorneys' Fees
Pursuant to the Court's Order on Motion for Sanctions.
(Doc. 114.) Plaintiff Brandy Brewer (“Brewer”)
filed her Opposition on May 17, 2019. (Doc. 125.)
Accordingly, the motion is now ripe for review.
review and consideration, the Court will grant in part
case arose in 2016 when Brewer, a former employee of Leprino,
filed a complaint alleging violations of the Family and
Medical Leave Act and California's Fair Employment and
Housing Act. (Doc. 1 at 10-22.) During discovery, Leprino
discovered that Brewer failed to produce documents that were
responsive to its discovery requests. Consequently, Leprino
filed an ex parte application, requesting that the Court
reopen discovery to allow Leprino to redepose Brewer in
regard to late disclosed documents and seeking discovery
sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37.
(Doc. 25 at 3.)
September 6, 2017, the Court held a telephonic hearing
regarding Leprino's ex parte application. (Doc. 28.) At
the hearing, the Court granted in part Leprino's request
to reopen discovery for the limited purpose of redeposing
Brewer for an additional five hours. (Id.) The
Court, however, deferred ruling on the issue of sanctions.
the dispositive motions deadline, the Court held a telephonic
status conference. (Doc. 38.) Pursuant to discussion at the
hearing, the Court allowed the parties to brief the issue of
sanctions. (Id. at 2; Doc. 37.)
September 28, 2018, Leprino filed a motion for sanctions
requesting, inter alia, that the Court order Brewer to pay
its fees and costs associated with its ex parte application
and Brewer's redeposition. (Doc. 41 at 3.) In a January
29, 2019 Order (“Sanctions Order”), the Court
granted in part and denied in part Leprino's motion,
ordering Brewer to pay Leprino's fees and costs incurred
in making its ex parte application and in redeposing Brewer
in an amount to be determined at the conclusion of trial.
(Doc. 74 at 20.) The Court also reserved the right to provide
an adverse inference jury instruction at trial.
(Id.) Trial was held in this matter on April 1, 2019
through April 10, 2019. (Docs. 96-101, 104-06.) As the
evidence unfolded at trial, the circumstances that could have
led to a request for an adverse inference jury instruction
never materialized. Accordingly, in an April 15, 2019 Order,
the Court denied as moot “any motions related to the
issue of an adverse inference jury instruction.” (Doc.
113 at 1.)
off-the-record hearing was held on April 24, 2019 to clarify
the Court's Sanctions Order. (Doc. 115.) During the
hearing, “[t]he Court directed counsel to file a
separately noticed motion for fees and costs pursuant to the
Court's Order (Doc. 74)” should counsel wish to
file a motion for attorneys' fees. (Id.) Later
that day, Leprino filed the instant motion for attorneys'
fees. (Doc. 114.)
requests $16, 480.00 in attorneys' fees pursuant to the
Court's Sanctions Order. (Doc. 114 at 2, 4.)
Specifically, Leprino states it is entitled to the $10,
480.00 incurred in making its ex parte application and the
$6, 000.00 incurred in redeposing Brewer. (Id. at
contends, however, that Leprino is not entitled to
attorneys' fees because the Court denied further motions
related to the issue of sanctions. (Doc. 125 at 2.) In
support, Brewer provides an excerpt of the Court's trial
dialogue in which the Court stated: “[T]here will be no
other sanctions imposed as a result of some discovery
issues.” (Id.) Brewer also attaches a copy of
the Court's April 15, 2019 Order, arguing that the Court
“issued an order stating that It [sic] was
Denying [sic] any motions associated with Docket
Numbers: 41 and 74, which were the motions for
to Brewer's contentions, the Court did not deny all
motions related to the issue of sanctions. At trial, the
Court noted that it would not impose sanctions related to
some, not all, discovery issues. Then, the Court issued its
April 15, 2019 Order, denying as moot the issue of an adverse
inference jury instruction, not the payment of attorneys'
fees. Thus, Leprino is entitled to its reasonable
attorneys' fees pursuant to the Court's Sanctions
attorneys' fees are awarded, a court must analyze the
award to ensure its reasonableness. Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433-34 (1983). In assessing the
reasonableness of an award of attorneys' fees,
court's employ the lodestar method. Staton v. Boeing
Co., 327 F.3d 938, 965 (9th Cir. 2003). The lodestar
figure is calculated by multiplying the number of hours
reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly
rate. Gonzalez v. City of Maywood, 729 F.3d 1196,
1202 (9th Cir. 2013). The moving party has the burden to
prove reasonableness. Intel Corp. v. Terabyte Int'l,
Inc., 6 F.3d 614, 622-23 (9th Cir. 1993).
reasonable number of hours expended equals “[t]he
number of hours … [which] could reasonably have been
billed to a private client.” Moreno v. City of
Sacramento, 534 F.3d 1106, 1111 (9th Cir. 2008). The
moving party “has the burden of submitting billing
records to establish that the number of hours it has
requested are reasonable.” Gonzalez, 729 F.3d
at 1202 (citing In re Wash. Pub. Power Supply Sys. Sec.
Litig., 19 F.3d 1291, 1305 ...