Rent-A-Center Inc v. Barker

Filing 73

MEMORANDUM ORDER denying 54 Motion for Attorney Fees as untimely; denying as moot 56 Motion for Order Confirming Award and Directing Entry of Judgment as all sums that Barker was entitled to receive as ordered by the Arbitrator have been paid in full. Signed by Judge Tucker L Melancon on 9/30/2009. (crt,Keifer, K)

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U N IT E D STATES DISTRICT COURT W E S T E R N DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA L A F A Y E T T E -O P E L O U S A S DIVISION R e n t-A Center, Inc. v e rs u s D a n ie lle Barker C iv il Action 07-1414 J u d g e Tucker L. Melançon M a g istra te Judge C. Michael Hill M E M O R A N D U M ORDER B e f o re the Court is Danielle Barker's Motion For Attorney Fee Award [Rec. Doc. 54] a n d Rent-A-Center's ("RAC") opposition thereto [Rec. Doc. 58] as well as Barker's Motion F o r Order Confirming Award And Directing Entry Of Judgment [Rec. Doc. 56] and RAC's o p p o sition thereto [Rec. Doc. 59]. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Barker's m o t io n s . 1 . Motion For Attorney Fee Award B a rk e r asserts that she is entitled to attorney's fees and expenses she incurred in su cc essf u lly defending RAC's motion to vacate the arbitrator's award in her appeal before th e Court. R. 54. Barker cites 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k)1 and LSA-R.S. 23:303 2 as the state 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k) states in pertinent part, "In any action or proceeding under this subchapter the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, ... , a reasonable attorney's fee (including expert fees) as part of the costs, .... Plaintiff's citation to the State court statute is stated as "La. R.S. 23:___." Based on the record in this proceeding, the Court will construe plaintiff's citation to be La. R.S. 23:303, which provides in pertinent part: A. A plaintiff who has a cause of action against an employer, employment agency, or labor organization for a violation of this Chapter may file a civil suit in a district court seeking compensatory damages, back pay, benefits, reinstatement, or if appropriate, front pay, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs. 1 2 1 a n d federal statutes which provide for an award of attorney's fees and expenses to Barker as th e prevailing claimant. RAC argues that Barker's motion for fees is untimely in that: 1) it w a s filed after the deadline to amend the judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e); 2) it was filed a f te r the deadline to file a motion for attorney's fees under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(2)(B)(I); 3) it was filed after the deadline to file a motion seeking her costs under LR 54.3; and 4) it was f ile d after the judgment because non-appealable under Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(A). R. 58. T h e Court agrees that Barker's motion for attorney's fees and expenses is barred because it is untimely. F ed era l Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2)(B) requires that a motion seeking attorney's f e e s "must be filed and served not later than 14 days after entry of judgment". Judgment is d e f in e d in Rule 54(a) as "any order from which an appeal lies." Federal appellate jurisdiction re q u ire s "a decision by the District Court that `ends the litigation on the merits and leaves n o th in g for the court to do but execute the judgment.' " Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U .S . 463, 467 (1978), quoting Catlin v. United States, 324 U.S. 229, 233 (1945). The A d v is o ry Committee Notes to Rule 54(b) indicate that the deadline for filing a motion for a tto rn e y's fees is "fourteen days after final judgment.... One purpose of this provision is to a s s u re that the opposing party is informed of the claim before the time for appeal has lapsed." F ed .R .C iv. P . 54 advisory committee's note (1993 amendments). T h e record indicates that the Court entered an Order denying RAC's application to v a c ate the decision of the arbitrator and taxing RAC with the costs of the appeal process on J u n e 11, 2009. R. 53. As Barker filed the motion sub judice on July 17, 2009, 36 days after J u d g m e n t was entered, Barker has failed to meet the requirements under Rule 54(d). RAC argues in the alternative that plaintiff cannot meet the requirements of Rule 2 5 9 (e ) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in order to alter or amend the judgment to in c lu d e attorney's fees. In White v. New Hampshire Department of Employment Security, 4 5 5 U.S. 445, 451 (1982) the Court held that post-judgment motions for attorney's fees under th e Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act are not proper Rule 59(e) motions because they ra is e an issue collateral to a decision on the merits of a case. Even assuming, however, that a motion to alter or amend the judgment applies in this instance, Rule 59(e) requires that such m o tio n be served within ten (10) days after entry of the final judgment. As indicated above, p lain tiff 's motion for attorney's fees was not served until more than 30 days after the entry o f judgment in her favor by this Court. Plaintiff having failed to comply with Rule 59(e), the J u ly 11, 2009 judgment could not be amended to award plaintiff attorney's fees. Nor is Barker's motion related to costs timely3 . Rule 54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules o f Civil Procedure provides for an award of costs "to the prevailing party unless the court o t h e r w is e directs." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). Local Rule 54.3 requires that a party in whose f a v o r judgment is rendered shall file with the clerk a notice to have costs taxed within thirty d a ys after receiving notice of entry of judgment and be accompanied with a signed m e m o r a n d u m attesting to the correctness of the items sought to be taxed as costs. LR 54.3. S ince Barker has not filed and served an application for costs within 30 days after the entry o f Judgment on June 11, 2009, her motion for expenses must be denied. 2 . Motion For Order Confirming Award and Directing Entry of Judgment In her motion for entry of judgment, Barker moves the Court to enter judgment under 9 U.S.C. § 9 of the Federal Arbitration Act, on the award made pursuant to the arbitration at 3 Barker's motion requests an award of attorney's fees and "expenses." 3 iss u e in this action. Barker's proposed judgment awards her the amounts set forth within the Arbitration Award as well as pre-judgment and post-judgment interest. R. 56. RAC c o n te n d s that Barker filed her motion on July 20, 2009, 39 days after the Court entered J u d g m e n t on June 11, 2009. RAC further contends, and the record confirms, that on July 2, 2 0 0 9 , RAC paid the Arbitration Award in its entirety by sending three checks to Barker's c o u n s e l via Federal Express. R. 59, Exh. A. As a result of the foregoing, RAC maintains th a t the Court is without jurisdiction to make any substantive change to the Judgment because B a rk e r's Motion was filed 26 days after the deadline to file a motion to amend or alter the Ju d g m e n t under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) and six days after the Judgment became non-appealable u n d e r Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(1)(A). The Court agrees that Barker's motion to effectively amend the Court's Judgment en tered on June 11, 2009 is untimely under Rule 59(e), and that the Court is therefore w ith o u t jurisdiction to amend it's June 11, 2009 Judgment. U.S. Leather, Inc. V. H&W P r t s h p ., 60 F.3d 222, 225 (5 th Cir. 1995) ("movant's failure to serve the motion within the t e n day limit deprives the district court of jurisdiction to alter or reconsider its earlier ju d g m e n t" ). Even assuming arguendo that the Court has jurisdiction to amend its judgment, " in te rv e n tio n by the court to award additional relief [of interest on the amounts awarded by th e arbitrator] would be inconsistent with the language and policy of the Federal Arbitration A c t." Glover v. IBP, Inc., 334 F.3d 471, 477 (5 th Cir. 2003) (citing Schlobohm v. Pepperidge F a r m , Inc., 806 F.2d 578 (5 th Cir. 1986). A s plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees and expenses is untimely under Fed. R. Civ. P ro c . 54(d) and the Court without jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's motion for the Court to is s u e an order confirming award and directing entry of judgment because it is untimely under 4 F e d . R. Civ. P. 59(e), it is O R D E R E D that Danielle Barker's Motion For Attorney Fee Award for the appeal of th is matter [Rec. Doc. 54] is DENIED as untimely; IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Danielle Barker's Motion For Order Confirming A w a rd And Directing Entry Of Judgment [Rec. Doc. 56] is DENIED AS MOOT as all sums th a t Barker was entitled to receive as ordered by the Arbitrator have been paid in full. T h u s done and signed this 30 th day of September 2009 at Lafayette, Louisiana. 5

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