Oxyde Chemicals Inc v. Essen Polymers Inc

Filing 42

ORDER by Judge Otis D. Wright, II: granting 35 Oxydes Application for Attorney Fees. The Court AWARDS $19,002.50 in attorneys fees and $1,305.71 in costs to Oxydes lead counsel Hill Rivkins, LLP, and $3,167.50 in attorneys fees and $343.96 in costs to Oxydes local counsel, the Law Offices of Nicholas A. Boylan. (lc). Modified on 2/11/2014 .(lc).

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O 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 United States District Court Central District of California 10 11 12 13 OXYDE CHEMICALS, INC., Petitioner, v. 14 15 16 ESSEN POLYMERS, INC., Respondent. Case No. 2:13-cv-5133-ODW (CWx) ORDER GRANTING PETIONER’S APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS [35] 17 18 Before the Court is Petitioner Oxyde Chemicals, Inc.’s Application for 19 Attorneys’ Fees and Costs. (ECF No. 35.) Oxyde is currently seeking $19,002.50 in 20 attorneys’ fees and $1,305.71 in costs for its lead counsel, Hill Rivkins, LLP, and 21 $3,167.50 in attorneys’ fees and $343.96 in costs to local counsel, the Law Offices of 22 Nicholas A. Boylan. (Reply 10.) Respondent Essen Polymers, Inc. opposes Oxyde’s 23 Application on a handful of grounds. 24 Oxyde is the prevailing party in the underlying action. The parties were 25 involved in a sales-contract dispute. (See ECF No. 34.) Pursuant to the terms of the 26 contract, they entered into arbitration in Houston, Texas. (Id.) The arbitrator found 27 Essen breached the contract and ultimately awarded Oxyde a total of $522,975.87. 28 (Id.) Essen failed to pay, and Oxyde filed its Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award in 1 this Court on July 17, 2013. (Id.; ECF No. 1.) On December 6, 2013, the Court 2 granted Oxyde’s Petition for Confirmation of Arbitration Award. (ECF No. 34.) 3 On December 20, 2013, Oxyde filed the present Application for Attorneys’ 4 Fees and Costs (ECF No. 35), initially requesting a total of $26,262.50 in attorneys’ 5 fees and $1,305.71 in costs. (Vangel Decl. ¶ 5.) Essen filed its Opposition on January 6 13, 2014, pointing out certain deficiencies in Oxyde’s request. (ECF No. 39.) Oxyde 7 filed a Reply on January 17, 2014, addressing some of Essen’s arguments and 8 reducing its attorneys’ fees request by a little more than $4,000. (Reply 10.) 9 There appears to be no dispute that Oxyde is entitled to attorneys’ fees and 10 costs under the sales contract. Where the parties diverge is over the reasonableness of 11 Oxyde’s request. The Ninth Circuit utilizes a number of factors in assessing the 12 reasonableness of an award of attorneys’ fees. Those factors are (1) the time and labor 13 required; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved; (3) the skill requisite 14 to perform the legal service properly; (4) the preclusion of other employment by the 15 attorney due to acceptance of the case; (5) the customary fee; (6) whether the fee is 16 fixed or contingent; (7) time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances; 17 (8) the amount involved and the results obtained; (9) the experience, reputation, and 18 ability of the attorneys; (10) the ‘undesirability’ of the case; (11) the nature and length 19 of the professional relationship with the client; and (12) awards in similar cases. Kerr 20 v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir. 1975). 21 Essen argues that this Court should deny Oxyde’s attorneys’ fees and costs or 22 reduce Oxyde’s attorneys’ fees to no more than $3,500. 23 According to Essen, a large portion of Oxyde’s billing records lack sufficient detail 24 and include “block-billed” entries. In addition, Essen contends that the Court has not 25 been supplied with adequate information about the education and experience of 26 certain attorneys. Essen also argues that the fees requested are excessive because 27 Oxyde has billed for more hours than necessary to deal with a case that included “no 28 novel, unique, or complex issues.” (Opp’n 10:4–5.) According to Essen, Oxyde also 2 (Opp’n 13:25–28.) 1 seeks to recover fees and costs that were a direct result of its own errors. Finally, 2 Essen argues that Oxyde has billed for duplicative work and for work that pre-dated 3 the filing of this action. 4 The Court first addresses Essen’s contention that Oxyde has billed for 5 duplicative work and work that pre-dated the filing of this action. The Court finds that 6 the reduction in Oxyde’s fees request contained in its Reply sufficiently addresses this 7 concern. 8 As to the remainder of Essen’s arguments, the Court is unpersuaded. The Court 9 finds no reason to deny Oxyde’s fees altogether. Oxyde is the prevailing party and 10 entitled to attorneys’ fees pursuant to the parties’ sales contract. The Court has 11 reviewed Oxyde’s billing records and disagrees with Essen’s assessment that the 12 billing records lack sufficient detail. 13 additional detail about the educational background and experience of the attorneys 14 who worked on this matter. The Court finds the attorneys’ educational background 15 and experience commensurate with their hourly rates. In addition, the rates of the 16 attorneys in this matter ranged from $175 an hour to $400 an hour. These hourly rates 17 are reasonable in almost any area of practice. Moreover, in its Reply, Oxyde supplied 18 With respect to Essen’s contention that Oxyde has billed too many hours for a 19 relatively simple matter, the Court actually finds that the fault lies with Essen on this 20 point. Essen is correct that this was a relatively simple matter, but Oxyde was forced 21 to litigate the issue vigorously because of Essen’s staunch opposition. The Court 22 finds no issue with the number of hours billed considering the six months it took to 23 take this matter to completion. The Court also finds that Oxyde has not billed for 24 work that was a result of Oxyde’s own error. The Petition for Confirmation of 25 Arbitration Award had to be served on Essen multiple times, but the Court finds that 26 this was more a result of Essen unnecessarily prolonging this action than error on 27 Oxyde’s part. 28 /// 3 1 For the reasons discussed above, the Court hereby GRANTS Oxyde’s 2 Application for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs. (ECF No. 35.) The Court AWARDS 3 $19,002.50 in attorneys’ fees and $1,305.71 in costs to Oxyde’s lead counsel Hill 4 Rivkins, LLP, and $3,167.50 in attorneys’ fees and $343.96 in costs to Oxyde’s local 5 counsel, the Law Offices of Nicholas A. Boylan. 6 7 8 IT IS SO ORDERED. 9 10 February 10, 2014 11 12 13 ____________________________________ OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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