United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honoraple Rosemary Maraylez United States District Judge
before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Attorney's
Fees and Costs (Doc. 52). On February 27, 2019, the Court
dismissed Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint in its
entirety, with prejudice. (Doc. 49.) Judgment in
Defendant's favor was entered the following
(Doc. 50.) Defendant now seeks Attorney's Fees and Costs
pursuant to the terms of the loan and Arizona Revised
Statutes §§ 12-341 and 12-341.01. Defendant did not
file a response in opposition to the Motion, and the time for
doing so has expired. The Court will grant the Motion in
Entitlement to Attorney's Fees and Costs
asserts two bases for its entitlement to Attorney's Fees
and Costs. (See Doc. 52 at 1.) The first is based
upon the Note, which Plaintiff attached as an exhibit to his
Complaint. (See Doc. 1-1 at 17-21.) The clause
Defendant relies on to recover attorney's fees reads:
(E) Payment of Note Holder's Costs and Expenses If the
Note Holder has required me to pay immediately in full as
described above, the Note Holder will have the right to be
paid back by me for all of its costs and expenses in
enforcing this Note to the extent not prohibited by
applicable law. These expenses include, for example,
reasonable attorneys' fees.
(Doc. 1-1 at 20.) Defendant has not explicitly asserted that
defending this lawsuit constituted “enforcing this
Note” per the attorney's fees clause of the loan
Defendant previously informed the Court that the real
property that secured the note was sold at a trustee's
sale in 2015. (See Doc. 52 at 2.) In any event,
because the Court finds that Defendant is entitled to costs
and attorney's fees under Arizona law, see discussion,
infra, the Court need not decide whether defending
this lawsuit is “enforcing the Note[.]”
12-341 requires a court to award costs to a successful party
in a civil action. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-341. Section
12-341.01 permits a court to award attorney's fees to a
successful party in any contested action arising out of a
contract. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-341.01(A).
“Although the award of costs is mandatory, the trial
court has discretion to determine which party was successful.
Arizona courts apply the same principles to determine the
successful party in both the attorney fees and costs
contexts.” Tucson Estates Prop. Owners
Ass'n, Inc. v. McGovern, 366 P.3d 111, 116 (Ariz.
App. 2016) (internal citation omitted). An action arises out
of contract when “the duty breached is created by the
contractual relationship, and would not exist but for the
contract.” Assyia v. State Farm Mut. Auto.
Ins. Co., 273 P.3d 668, 672 (Ariz. App. 2012) (internal
quotations omitted). All of Plaintiff's claims in the FAC
“would not exist but for the contract[,
]” and as to all of them judgment was entered
in Defendant's favor. (See Doc. 50.) Thus,
Defendant is entitled to costs and reasonable attorney's
Calculation of Reasonable Attorney's Fees
determined that Defendant is entitled to an attorney's
fee award, the Court must determine the amount of the award
to be granted. See Schweiger v. China Doll Rest.,
Inc., 673 P.2d 927, 931 (Ariz. App. 1983)
(“payment of an attorney's fee must be reasonable
and bear a direct relation to the amount involved, and the
quality, kind[, ] and extent of service rendered”
(internal quotation marks omitted)). In total, Defendant
seeks $37, 847.50 in fees for work done by attorneys and
paralegals in defending against Plaintiff's claims. (Doc.
52 at 5.)
support of its Motion, Defendant submits an affidavit by
attorney James Ugalde (Doc. 52-1 at 1-5), in which Mr. Ugalde
explains that he is a partner at Quarles & Brady LLP and
is lead counsel for Defendant. (Id. at 2.) Mr.
Ugalde's billing rates during Defendant's
representation were $415.00 and $435.00 per hour.
(Id.) The following attorneys and paralegals also
worked on this matter, and their work was billed to
Defendants: S. Klundt at $475.00 per hour; M. Kjartanson at
$270.00 per hour; K. Webster at $210.00 and $215.00 per hour;
and S. Aytch at $240.00. (Id. at 3.) At Exhibit A (Doc.
52-1 at 7) to the affidavit is an itemized statement of tasks
performed, with the corresponding hours billed for that task
and the name of the attorney or paralegal who performed the
task. (See Doc. 52-1 at 9-14.) The entries are dated
and listed in chronological order. (See id.) Mr.
Uglade avers that these hourly rates are “comparable to
the rates charged by lawyers of comparable experience at
comparable law firms.” (Id. at 4.) He
additionally affirms that the total sum of requested
attorney's fees is reasonable. (Id.) Lastly,
Defendant attaches a Statement of Consultation, in compliance
with LRCiv 54.2(d)(1). (Doc. 54.)
reasonableness of an award of attorney's fees is
determined using the “lodestar method, ” in which
a court first determines the lodestar figure (the number of
hours reasonably expended multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate) and then assesses whether an enhancement or reduction
of that figure is appropriate based upon a number of factors.
Fischer v. SJB-P.D. Inc., 214 F.3d 1115, 1119 (9th
Cir. 2000). In determining what constitutes a reasonable
hourly rate, the Court must look to the prevailing market
rates in the relevant community “for similar work
performed by attorneys of comparable skill, experience, and
reputation.” Schwarz v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 73 F.3d 895, 908 (9th Cir. 1995). The
party seeking the award bears the burden of producing
“satisfactory evidence-in addition to the
attorney's own affidavits-that the requested rates are in
line with those prevailing in the community.”
Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 980 (9th
Cir. 2008). The Local Rules place additional requirements on
the format and content of applications for attorney's
fees. See LRCiv 54.2. Task-based itemizations must
describe the services rendered sufficiently for the court to
assess the reasonableness of the charge, and the court may
reduce for any inadequate descriptions.LRCiv 54.2(e)(2).
lodestar factors to be considered in determining the
reasonableness of an attorney's fee award have been
incorporated into Local Rule of Civil Procedure 54.2(c)(3),
see Maricopa Cnty. v. Office Depot, Inc., No.
2:14-cv-1372-HRH, 2017 WL 1957882, at *4-5 (D. Ariz. May 11,
2017), vacated on other grounds by County of Maricopa v.
Office Depot, Inc., __ Fed. App'x. __, 2018 WL
6584261 (9th Cir. 2018). The non-exhaustive list outlined in
the local rules are the factors to be discussed by the ...