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Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC v. Chun

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

October 17, 2019

BASKIN-ROBBINS FRANCHISING LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ALAN A. CHUN, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS [RE: ECF 33]

          BETH LAB SON FREEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case arises from allegations of breach of a franchise agreement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition. See generally Compl. ¶¶ 1, 36-58, ECF 1. Alan A. Chun (“Defendant”) has failed to appear, and in July 2019 this Court granted in part and denied in part Baskin-Robbins and BP IP LLC's (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) Motion for Default Judgment. See Mot. for Default J., ECF 19; Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Pl.'s Mot. for Default J. (“Prior Order”) 2-3, 16, ECF 29; Order Entering Permanent Inj. Against Def. Alan Chun (“Order Entering Inj.”), ECF 30; Judgment, ECF 31. Now before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs (“Motion”). For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC (“BR”) grants franchises across the United States. Mot. 2; Compl. ¶¶ 2-3. In doing so, BR licenses its trademarks to franchisees so that they can operate under the Baskin-Robbins System.[1] Mot. 2; Compl. ¶¶ 2-3. In July 2017, Defendant entered into a franchise agreement (the “Agreement”) with Plaintiffs. Mot. 2-3; Compl. ¶¶ 4, 18- 20, Exh. 1. Under the Agreement, Defendant agreed to pay all damages, interests, costs, and expenses upon default. Mot. 3; Compl. ¶ 21, Exh. 1, at § 14.4.4. Eventually Defendant did default, and Plaintiffs commenced this action in September 2018. Mot. 3; Compl. ¶ 26.

         On July 16, 2019, this Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment against Defendant and entered judgment in Plaintiffs' favor in the amount of $125, 423.61. Prior Order; Order Entering Inj.; Judgment. Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a), the Court determined that an award of attorneys' fees and costs was warranted and instructed Plaintiffs to move for them separately. Prior Order 13-14.

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs, along with supporting documentation. Mot.; Affidavit of Barry G. Stratford in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs (“Stratford Decl.”), ECF 34; Bill of Costs, ECF 35, 36. Plaintiffs seek a total of $34, 478.25, which includes $33, 620.00 in attorneys' fees and $858.25 in costs. Mot. 1. Because the Court already approved an award for fees and costs, the only issue is whether Plaintiffs' claimed amount is appropriate. See Prior Order 13-14.

         II. ATTORNEYS' FEES

         In calculating awards for attorneys' fees, courts apply the “lodestar” method to the facts of each case. Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 978 (9th Cir. 2008); see also Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983). The lodestar amount is presumptively reasonable. See Vogel v. Harbor Plaza Center, LLC, 893 F.3d 1152, 1161 (9th Cir. 2018). “The ‘lodestar' is calculated by multiplying the number of hours the prevailing party reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate.” Morales v. City of San Rafael, 96 F.3d 359, 363 (9th Cir. 1996), opinion amended on denial of reh'g, 108 F.3d 981 (9th Cir. 1997). Once calculated, the lodestar amount may be further adjusted based on other factors not already subsumed in the initial lodestar calculation. Morales, 96 F.3d at 363-64, 363 nn.3-4 (identifying factors) (citing Kerr v. Screen Guild Extras, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir. 1975), abrogated on other grounds by City of Burlington v. Dague, 505 U.S. 557 (1992)).

         Here, Plaintiffs seek $33, 620.00 for attorneys' fees. Mot. 1. Three attorneys worked for Plaintiffs on this case: (1) Charles Vincent Maloney (“Maloney”), (2) Barry G. Stratford (“Stratford”), and (3) Catherine N. Grech (“Grech”).[2] Stratford Decl. ¶¶ 7a-c.

         Maloney is a partner with thirty (30) years' experience handling various complex commercial litigation matters. Stratford Decl. ¶ 7a. Although he typically bills at over $800 per hour, for this matter he discounted his rate to $475 per hour. Stratford Decl. ¶ 9. Maloney spent a total of 2 hours reviewing Stratford's and Grech's work. See Stratford Decl., Exh. A.

         Stratford is a counsel with six (6) years' experience doing business litigation. Stratford Decl. ¶ 7b. He bills at over $600 per hour, but for this action he also cut his rate to $475 per hour. Stratford Decl. ¶ 9. Stratford worked 50.4 hours on this matter, spending most of his time drafting the Motion for Default Judgment and this Motion. See Stratford Decl., Exh. A.

         Grech is an associate with five (5) years' experience, primarily doing employment law but also handling trademark infringement work. Stratford Decl. ¶ 7c. Her usual billing rate is upwards of $550 per hour, but for this matter she charged $375-$475 per hour. See Stratford Decl. ¶ 9, Exh. A. Grech worked 19.6 hours on the matter, spending most of her time preparing and filing the Complaint, conferring with Plaintiffs, and working on the Motion for Default Judgment. See Stratford Decl., Exh. A.

         The attorneys' work is summarized in this chart:

Attorney

Title

Years

Rate

Hours

Amount

Maloney

Partner

> 30

$475

2

$950

Stratford

Counsel

≈ 6

$475

50.4

$23, 940

Grech

Associate

≈ 5

$375-$475

19.6

$8, 730

TOTAL

72 hours

$33, 620


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