United States District Court, D. Arizona
DOUGLAS L. RAYES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant's amended motion for
attorneys' fees and related non-taxable expenses. (Doc.
179.) Pursuant to A.R.S. §§ 12-341.01(A) and
29-858(A), Defendant seeks $57, 532.50 in attorneys' fees
and $5, 996.40 in costs. (Id. at 1.) The motion is
fully briefed and neither party requested oral argument. For
the following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted.
only claim in this matter was that Defendant violated §
29-858(A) by making a false filing with the Arizona
Corporation Commission. Defendant counterclaimed that
Plaintiff violated § 29-858(A). Defendant also brought
counterclaims against Plaintiff for breach of fiduciary duty,
conversion, breach of duty of loyalty and good faith and fair
dealing, unjust enrichment, promissory estoppel, and fraud.
a three-day trial in November 2018, the jury returned a
verdict in favor Defendant on Plaintiff's §
29-858(A) claim, and in favor of Defendant on his own §
29- 858(A) claim, awarding Defendant $41, 805.00 in damages.
(Doc 154.) The jury also returned a verdict in favor of
Defendant on his remaining counterclaims. (Id.)
Although the jury found that Defendant was entitled to
punitive damages, it awarded no additional damages.
§ 29-858(A), “[t]he prevailing party in an action
for liability imposed by this subsection is entitled to an
award for its costs and reasonable attorney fees.”
Defendant is entitled to an award of costs and reasonable
attorneys' fees because he is the prevailing party.
is generally analyzed under the “lodestar method,
” which has been adopted as “the centerpiece of
attorney's fee awards.” Leavey v.
UNUM/Provident Corp., No. 2: CV-02-2281-PHX-SMM, 2006 WL
1515999, at *23 (D. Ariz. May 26, 2006) (quoting
Blanchard v. Bergeron, 489 U.S. 87, 94 (1989)).
“A fee award calculated by a lodestar
method-multiplying a reasonable hourly rate by the number of
hours expended- is presumptively reasonable.” Flood
Control Dist. of Maricopa Cty. v. Paloma Inv. Ltd.
P'ship, 279 P.3d 1191, 1212 (Ariz.Ct.App. 2012).
Once the prevailing party makes a prima facie case that the
fees requested are reasonable, the burden shifts to the party
opposing the fee request to establish that the amount
requested is clearly excessive. If that party fails to make
such a showing of unreasonableness, the prevailing party is
entitled to full payment of the fees. If, however, the party
opposing the award shows that the otherwise prima facie
reasonable fee request is excessive, the court has discretion
to reduce the fees to a reasonable level.
Geller v. Lesk, 285 P.3d 972, 976 (Ariz.Ct.App.
analyzing the reasonableness of a requested fee award, the
Court begins by determining the billing rate charged by the
attorneys who worked on the case. Schweiger v. China Doll
Rest., Inc., 673 P.2d 927, 931 (Ariz.Ct.App. 1983).
“[I]n corporate and commercial litigation between
feepaying clients, there is no need to determine the
reasonable hourly rate prevailing in the community for
similar work because the rate charged by the lawyer to the
client is the best indication of what is reasonable under the
circumstances of the particular case.” Id. at
931-32. However, “upon the presentation of an opposing
affidavit setting forth the reasons why the hourly billing
rate is unreasonable, the court may utilize a lesser
rate.” Id. at 932. Having reviewed
Defendant's supporting documentation, the Court finds
that the hourly rates charged by Defense Counsel are
reasonable. Moreover, Plaintiff has not presented an opposing
affidavit explaining why the hourly billing rate is
the Court must assess whether Defendant's attorney billed
a reasonable number of hours for appropriate tasks. A
reasonable attorneys' fee award compensates only for
those “item[s] of service which, at the time rendered,
would have been undertaken by a reasonable and prudent lawyer
to advance or protect his client's interest.”
Schweiger, 673 P.2d at 932 (internal quotation and
citation omitted). To that end, the party seeking a fee award
must submit an affidavit indicating “the types of legal
services provided, the date the service was provided, the
attorney providing the service . . ., and the time spent
providing the service.” Id.; see also
LRCiv 54.2(d)(3), (e). Once that party establishes its
entitlement to fees and submits a sufficiently-detailed
affidavit, “the burden shifts to the party opposing the
fee award to demonstrate the impropriety or unreasonableness
of the requested fees.” Nolan v. Starlight Pines
Homeowners Ass'n, 167 P.3d 1277, 1286 (Ariz.Ct.App.
2007). The opposing party must “present specific
objections to the reasonableness of the fees
requested.” Id. Generic assertions that the
fees “are inflated and that much of counsel's work
was unnecessary . . . are insufficient as a matter of
law.” Id. at 1285-86.
has met his prima facie burden by submitting a detailed,
task-based itemization of the fees incurred in defending
against this action, which total $57, 532.50. (Doc. 179-3.)
This itemization includes the date each task was performed,
the attorney performing the task, a description of the task,
the amount of time spent performing it, and the total amount
billed for each task. Defendant also seeks $5, 996.40 in
non-taxable costs, which have been similarly itemized.
(Id. at 15, 18.) The burden therefore shifts to
Plaintiff to present specific objections to the
reasonableness of the fees requested. Plaintiff made no
objections, specific or otherwise. Because Plaintiff fails to
make a showing of unreasonableness, Defendant is entitled to
full payment of fees. Moreover, because the Court finds that
Defendant is entitled to fees under § 29-858(A) and that
the fees requested are reasonable, the Court need not
determine whether he should recover ...