AFL Telecommunications LLC v. Fiberoptic Hardware LLC et al

Filing 67

ORDER denying 65 Motion for Attorney Fees. Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 12/3/2012.(NVO)

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1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 AFL Telecommunications LLC, Plaintiff, 10 11 12 No. CV11-01081-PHX-DGC ORDER v. Fiberoptic Hardware, LLC, Defendant. 13 14 15 Plaintiff AFL Telecommunications LLC has filed a motion for attorneys’ fees and 16 costs. Docs. 65, 66. Defendant has not responded. The Court will exercise its discretion 17 and deny the motion. 18 A district court has discretion to award attorneys’ fees to a prevailing party under 19 the Lanham Act, but only in “exceptional cases.” See 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a); Gracie v. 20 Gracie, 217 F.3d 1060, 1071 (9th Cir. 2000). The Ninth Circuit construes the “exceptional 21 circumstances” requirement narrowly. Id. “Exceptional circumstances can be found when 22 the non-prevailing party’s case is groundless, unreasonable, vexatious, or pursued in bad 23 faith.” 24 Pellegrini, 337 F.3d 1036, 1040 (9th Cir.2003). Id. (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Horphag Research Ltd. v. 25 The Court entered a default judgment against Defendant and awarded more than 26 $217,000 in damages when its counsel withdrew from this case. Doc. 63. Defense counsel 27 stated that Defendant no longer could afford to litigate this case and was ceasing 28 operations. Doc. 60. 1 Plaintiff asks the Court to find that Defendant’s conduct was willful, malicious, and 2 wanton, and therefore satisfies the “exceptional circumstances” requirement, because 3 Plaintiff’s complaint contained those allegations and a default was entered. The Court 4 notes, however, that Defendant denied those allegations in its answer. Doc. 33. 5 The Court cannot conclude that Plaintiff’s allegations are correct merely because a 6 default judgment was entered in this case. Where an award of fees is exceptional and the 7 Court’s power to grant such an award is construed narrowly, the Court concludes that more 8 than a default is needed for the Court to finds that exceptional circumstances exist. 9 10 11 IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees and costs (Doc. 65) is denied. Dated this 3rd day of December, 2012. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -2-

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