Yates v. West Contra Costa Unified School District

Filing 143

ORDER by Judge Maria-Elena James denying 133 Motion for Attorney Fees; finding as moot 140 Motion to Appear by Telephone (mejlc3, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/12/2017) (Additional attachment(s) added on 9/12/2017: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (rmm2S, COURT STAFF).

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 FERNANDO YATES, 8 Plaintiff, v. 9 Case No. 16-cv-01077-MEJ ORDER RE MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES Re: Dkt. No. 133 10 WEST CONTRA COSTA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Defendant. 12 The Court granted Defendant West Contra Costa Unified School District’s Motion for 13 14 Summary Judgment on August 4, 2017. See Order, Dkt. No. 131. Pending before the Court is 15 Defendant’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees. See Mot., Dkt. No. 133. Plaintiff Fernando Yates 16 opposed the Motion. Opp’n, Dkt. No. 136. Defendant did not file a Reply in the time scheduled 17 by Civil Local Rule 7-3(c). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b) and Civil Local 18 Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without oral argument and hereby 19 VACATES the September 28, 2017 hearing.1 For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the 20 Motion. Absent statute or enforceable contract, each party typically pays its own attorneys’ fees and 21 22 generally is not entitled to recover its fees from its adversary. See Alyeska Pipeline Serv. Co. v. 23 The Wilderness Soc’y, 421 U.S. 240, 257 (1975). Defendant does not identify either a statutory or 24 contractual basis for awarding attorneys’ fees, but argues a fee award is appropriate because 25 Plaintiff, the losing party, acted in bad faith. See id. at 258-59 (it also is “unquestionably” within a 26 court’s inherent power to allow attorneys’ fees in particular situations, including when a party has 27 28 1 Plaintiff’s Motion to Appear by Telephone (Dkt. No. 140) accordingly is denied as moot. 1 acted in bad faith). Defendant argues Plaintiff’s claims lacked merit, and were filed to cover up 2 Plaintiff’s own job abandonment. See Mot. As a result, Defendant seeks to recover the $71,365 it 3 expended in attorneys’ fees. 4 Plaintiff represented himself in this action. As the docket illustrates, he had difficulties 5 understanding the practice of discovery and repeatedly failed in his efforts to secure discovery 6 from his opponent. See, e.g., Order Denying Mot. to Compel and Suggestion for Polygraph 7 Examination, Dkt. No. 91; Order Denying Request for Waiver of Dep. Costs, Dkt. No. 93; Order 8 Denying Mot. for Polygraph Examination, Dkt. No. 95; Order Denying Request to File Mot. re 9 Dep. as Premature, Dkt. No. 101; Order re Mot. for Protective Order, Dkt. No. 102; Order Denying Mot. for Permission to File Mot. to Compel, Dkt. No. 105; Disc. Order, Dkt. No. 110; 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Order Denying Mot. Requesting Defs. Provide Documents, Dkt. No. 112. While the Court 12 concluded Plaintiff failed to create a triable issue of fact on summary judgment, it did not find 13 Plaintiff’s claims were brought in bad faith or were filed for an improper purpose. See Order. 14 That Plaintiff ultimately could not offer sufficient evidence to defeat summary judgment does not 15 show he filed this action in bad faith. 16 The Court acknowledges this case was frustrating, and that Defendant expended resources 17 unnecessarily as a result of Plaintiff’s conduct during discovery. Nevertheless, the Court will not 18 exercise its discretion to award $71,365 in attorneys’ fees against a pro se plaintiff absent clear 19 evidence of bad faith or improper purpose. Because the Court has not found such clear evidence, 20 Defendants’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees is DENIED. 21 IT IS SO ORDERED. 22 23 24 25 Dated: September 12, 2017 ______________________________________ MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge 26 27 28 2

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