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TSI USA LLC v. Uber Technologies Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 6, 2020

TSI USA LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE OPPOSITION AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS Re: Dkt. Nos. 103, 113

          Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Uber Technologies, Inc.'s motion for attorneys' fees and costs. See Dkt. No. 103. Because Plaintiff TSI USA LLC failed to oppose the motion by the October 22, 2019, deadline, it also filed a motion for leave to file a belated opposition to the motion for attorneys' fees. See Dkt. No. 113. The Court finds this matter appropriate for disposition without oral argument and the matter is deemed submitted. See Civil L.R. 7-1(b). As discussed in more detail below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for leave to oppose the motion for attorneys' fees and considers the opposition submitted. Even considering the opposition, however, the Court GRANTS IN PART Defendant's motion for attorneys' fees and costs, and provides Defendant an opportunity to respond to Plaintiff's opposition brief.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Motion for Attorneys' Fees

         On May 16, 2019, Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's fraud and defamation claims, as well as its prayer for attorneys' fees and exemplary damages alleged in the Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). See Dkt. No. 90. Plaintiff failed to oppose the motion. Only after the Court issued an order to show cause did Plaintiff acknowledge that it was not opposing the motion. See Dkt. Nos. 94, 95. The Court therefore granted Defendant's motion to dismiss on September 17, 2019. See Dkt. No. 100. Defendant then filed the instant motion to recover attorneys' fees and costs associated with its efforts to file the unopposed motion to dismiss. See Dkt. No. 103. Yet again, Plaintiff failed to oppose the motion for attorneys' fees by the deadline. See Civil L.R. 7-3(a)-(b). Defendant filed a reply brief, see Dkt. No. 107, and still Plaintiff did not respond.

         B. Plaintiff's Local Counsel

         In parallel, Plaintiff's local counsel Edwin Prather, from Prather Law Offices, sought leave to withdraw as counsel on May 30, 2019. See Dkt. No. 91. Since that time, the Court twice directed Plaintiff to retain new local counsel. First, in granting the motion to withdraw on May 31, 2019, the Court ordered Plaintiff to “retain new local co-counsel within 30 days to comply with Local Civil Rule 11-3(a)(3), regarding Pro Hac Vice requirements.” See Dkt. No. 92 at 4. Second, in its order granting Defendant's motion to dismiss on September 17, 2019, the Court directed Plaintiff to retain local counsel by the October 8, 2019, case management conference. See Dkt. No. 100 at 2. During the case management conference, Mr. Steven Shebar represented to the Court that he anticipated having a signed engagement by local counsel that week. Yet Plaintiff did not file an appearance of local counsel for over a month after that representation. On November 20, 2019, Defendant filed an administrative motion with the Court asking for guidance as to how to proceed given that Plaintiff still lacked local counsel. See Dkt. No. 108. Only after Defendant's administrative motion did Plaintiff's local counsel, Mr. Loren Hamilton McRoss, file a notice of appearance later that same day. See Dkt. No. 109.

         C. Motion for Leave to File Opposition to Motion for Attorneys' Fees

         In light of these filings, the Court set a case management conference for November 26, 2019. See Dkt. No. 110. At the hearing, Mr. McRoss appeared for Plaintiff and raised for the first time that Plaintiff intended to seek leave to file a late opposition to Defendant's motion for attorneys' fees and costs. Over a week later, Plaintiff filed the motion for leave to file the opposition. See Dkt. No. 113. In the motion, Mr. Shebar stated that he had unanticipated family matters that required his attention beginning on October 10, 2019. See Dkt. Nos. 113 at 2, 113-2 at ¶¶ 1-5. He further stated that “he has attempted in good faith, to the best of his ability, to complete work on [the opposition to the motion for attorneys' fees] as quickly as possible.” See id. Defendant has opposed the motion. See Dkt. No. 114.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion for Leave to File Opposition

         Plaintiff seeks leave to file an opposition to Defendant's motion for attorneys' fees almost seven weeks after its original due date. See Dkt. No. 113. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6, a court may, for good cause, extend a deadline “on motion made after the time has expired if the party failed to act because of excusable neglect.” See Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(1)(B). To determine whether neglect is excusable, the court may consider various factors, including: (1) “the danger of prejudice to the opposing party; (2) the length of the delay and its potential impact on the proceedings; (3) the reason for the delay; and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith.” See Bateman v. U.S. Postal Serv., 231 F.3d 1220, 1223-24 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993)).

         Here, Plaintiff contends that excusable neglect exists because Mr. Shebar was dealing with a family emergency from early October to early December 2019. See Dkt. Nos. 113 at 2, 113-2 at ¶¶ 1-5. Consequently, he was unable to meet the October 22, 2019, opposition deadline. The Court finds that Plaintiff has demonstrated excusable neglect under the circumstances. Although Plaintiff delayed seeking an extension of time for its opposition for several weeks, the Court finds that the reason for Plaintiff's delay was unanticipated and significant. Moreover, the opposition at issue here is for a motion for attorneys' fees, unrelated to the merits of the case, that was not noticed for argument until February 2020. To the extent Defendant has raised concerns about possible prejudice from a delay in discovery, the Court has already extended the fact discovery deadline to March 16, 2020. See Dkt. No. 112. The parties therefore still have ample time to prepare in advance of the June 4, 2020, dispositive motions hearing deadline and the September 14, 2020, trial. See Dkt. No. 105.

         The Court accordingly exercises its discretion and GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for leave to file its opposition, and deems it filed at Dkt. No. 113-1, Ex. A. The ...


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