J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Three Brothers of Hyattsville, LLC
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day on 9/8/2017. (tds, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC.,
THREE BROTHERS OF
Civil Action No.: CBD-15-1327
Before this Court is Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff’s Motion for
Attorneys’ Fees and Costs (ECF No. 43) (the “Motion”). Plaintiff J &J Sports Production, Inc.
(“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendant Three Brothers of Hyattsville (“Defendant”),
alleging Defendant (1) violated 47 U.S.C. § 605 1; (2) violated 47 U.S.C. § 553 2; and (3) acted in
ways amounting to tortuous conversion. ECF No. 1, p. 1-5. The Court has reviewed the Motion,
related memoranda, and applicable law. No hearing is deemed necessary. See Local Rule 105.6
(D. Md.). For the reasons presented below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part
Plaintiff owns certain nationwide television commercial distribution rights to the Floyd
Mayweather, Jr v. Robert Guerrero, WBC Welterweight Championship Fight Program, telecast
47 U.S.C. § 605 – Unauthorized publication or use of communications.
47 U.S.C. § 553 – Unauthorized reception of cable service.
nationwide on Saturday, May 4, 2013 (“the Program”). Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff entered into various
sublicensing agreements with commercial entities throughout North America, including
restaurants, bars, hotels, etc., whereby these entities were granted the right to publicly show the
Program to their patrons. Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant “did unlawfully publish,
divulge and exhibit the Program” at its establishment without entering into such an agreement
with Plaintiff. Id.
A bench trial was held on July 5, 2017, where the Court granted judgment in favor of
Plaintiff as to Count I, awarding $6,600. ECF No. 41, 42. Plaintiff now seeks an award of
attorney’s fees and costs. ECF No. 43.
The Court granted judgment in favor of Plaintiff pursuant 47 U.S.C. § 605. Transcript of
Record at 3:20-24. 3 Section 605(e)(3)(B)(iii) provides that the Court “shall direct the recovery
of full costs, including awarding reasonable attorneys’ fees to an aggrieved party who prevails.”
a. Plaintiff’s Entitlement to Costs
The Court finds that the costs incurred are reasonable. Under Rule 54(d) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, “[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides
otherwise, costs--other than attorney’s fees--should be allowed to the prevailing party.” Fed. R.
Civ. P. 54(d)(1). It is established that the party that is “entitled to recover attorney’s fees [is]
also entitled to recover reasonable litigation-related expenses as part of their overall award.”
Kabore v. Anchor Staffing, Inc., No. L-10-3204, 2012 WL 5077636, at *10 (D. Md. Oct. 17,
The transcripts of the record referred to here were prepared for the purpose of this
opinion only and are not the final certified version.
The actual amount sought, as outlined below, is $1,412.85, but Plaintiff requested only
$1,372.00 in the Motion. ECF No. 43, p. 2. Plaintiff honors this miscalculation in its subsequent
filings, claiming “Plaintiff will only be requesting $1,372.00, as this is the amount requested in
its original Request for Costs.” ECF No. 45-11, p. 2.
Complaint filing fee
Private Process Server Fee
Defendant objects to the costs requested by Plaintiff, arguing that Plaintiff did not file its
Bill of Costs in the format required by Local Rule 109.1. Defendant specifies that Plaintiff’s
filings are not in the requisite format for a Bill of Costs because the request was not
“accompanied by a memorandum setting forth the grounds and authorities supporting the
request” nor had the “vouchers or bills supporting the costs being requested . . . attached as
exhibits.” While Defendant accurately identifies this deficiency in Plaintiff’s filing, Plaintiff
remedied the matter in its “Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff’s Response to Defendant’s
Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs” (ECF No. 45-1) by filing a
supporting memorandum (ECF No. 45-11) and documentation supporting most of its costs (ECF
No. 45-12). However, Plaintiff failed to provide a “voucher or bill” supporting the cost of the
The $40.85 discrepancy in the total costs requested and the total costs incurred is due to
Plaintiff’s miscalculation in the Motion. Plaintiff acknowledges this error and as a result has
chosen to honor the lower fee requested in the Motion.
courier charge for $11.83. Without this documentation, the Court will not award Plaintiff
reimbursement for that cost, reducing Plaintiff’s claim to $1,401.02. However, the lack of
support for the courier charge is inconsequential because Plaintiff is requesting $40.85 less than
it would otherwise be entitled to, encompassing in that amount the unsupported courier charge.
The Court finds that as the prevailing party, Plaintiff is entitled to recover reasonable costs
incurred for a total of $1,372.00.
b. Plaintiff’s Entitlement to Attorney’s Fees
In calculating an award of attorney’s fees, Courts begin with the lodestar calculation.
Robinson v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 560 F.3d 235, 243 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Grissom v. The
Mills Corp., 549 F.3d 313, 320 (4th Cir. 2008)). The lodestar figure equals the number of
reasonable hours expended by counsel multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate, which the Court
determines by examining the following twelve factors:
(1) the time and labor expended; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions
raised; (3) the skill required to properly perform the legal services rendered; (4)
the attorney’s opportunity costs in pressing the instant litigation; (5) the
customary fee for like work; (6) the attorney’s expectations at the outset of the
litigation; (7) the time limitations imposed by the client or circumstances; (8) the
amount in controversy and the results obtained; (9) the experience, reputation and
ability of the attorney; (10) the undesirability of the case within the legal
community in which the suit arose; (11) the nature and length of the professional
relationship between attorney and client; and (12) attorneys’ fees awards in
See id. at 243–44 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Barber v. Kimbrell’s Inc., 577 F.2d
216, 226 n.28 (4th Cir. 1978) (adopting the factors specified by Johnson v. Ga. Highway
Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714 (5th Cir. 1974))). The Court also relies upon the Rules and
Guidelines for Determining Attorneys’ Fees in Certain Cases (the “Guidelines”), which are
located in Appendix B of the Local Rules of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
The party seeking fees, in this case Plaintiff, bears the burden of establishing entitlement to an
award and documenting the appropriate hours expended and hourly rates. Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424, 437 (1983).
Plaintiff requests a total of $13,741.00 in attorney’s fees: $5,460.00 for the services of
Kind & Dashoff, LLC, (“Kind & Dashoff”) and $8,281.00 for the services of the Law Offices of
Thomas P. Riley, P.C. (“Riley, P.C.”) ECF No. 45-1, p. 5; ECF No. 45-5. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court (1) denies without prejudice the Motion as to attorney’s fees for Kind
& Dashoff, and (2) denies the Motion as to attorney’s fees for Riley, P.C.
i. Plaintiff did not provide adequate information for the Court to
determine what fees Kind & Dashoff is entitled to.
The majority of the Robinson v. Equifax Info. Serv. factors are neutral or weigh in favor
of Plaintiff. However, Plaintiff fails to provide the documentation necessary for the Court to
adequately examine the reasonableness of the fees requested for Kind & Dashoff. In assessing
the reasonableness of the requested attorney’s fees, the Court relies on the Guidelines outlined in
Appendix B of the Local Rules, which provide reasonable billing rates for attorneys admitted to
the bar for a certain number of years. For example, the Guidelines dictate that an attorney
admitted to the bar for less than five years can bill in the range of $150-225, whereas an attorney
admitted to the bar between five and eight years may bill between $165-300. In order to
appropriately abide by these Guidelines and make determinations of whether the requested
attorney’s fees are reasonable, the Court requires the moving party to submit adequate
documentation, often in the form of detailed time records and affidavits stating the qualifications
of the billing attorneys and paralegals. Because these two documents are deficient, the Court
must deny Plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees from Kind & Dashoff.
Plaintiff has filed a “Statement of Attorney’s Fees for Kind & Dashoff, LLC” (“the
Statement”) which details the time the firm spent on the matter. ECF No. 45-7. However, the
Statement does not break down the time logs by individual timekeepers. Id. at 1. Instead, it
merely states a “Rate” of $300 per hour without noting who that billing rate applies to. There are
18.2 hours of work reflected as work performed on the matter by Kind & Dashoff, LLC over the
course of two years, but the Statement gives no indication as to who has entered that time. Id. at
6. Kind & Dashoff has four attorneys of record in the matter, yet the experience levels of each
are not provided, nor are the levels of experience provided for the paralegals. The Court cannot
award Plaintiff attorney’s fees without making a determination as to the reasonableness of the
fees requested, and the Court cannot make that determination without the appropriate
documentation from Plaintiff. In order for Plaintiff to be awarded attorney’s fees for the work
done by Kind & Dashoff, it must resubmit the Statement with the addition of the appropriate
timekeeper for each action taken as well as an affidavit detailing the hourly billing rates of each
ii. Plaintiff is not entitled to attorney’s fees for Thomas Riley.
Plaintiff claims it is entitled to an award of fees for work performed on this matter by
Riley, P.C. Mr. Riley appeared at trial as a witness testifying on behalf of Plaintiff and
introduced himself as “the authorized representative and attorney-in-fact for [Plaintiff].”
Transcript of Record at 1:18-20. Defendant challenges the fees requested for Riley, P.C.,
arguing that Riley, P.C.’s legal services were not necessary for the prosecution of the action.
ECF No. 44-1, p.5. Plaintiff, however, alleges that Riley, P.C. “acted as a California counsel for
Plaintiff [while] Kind & Dashoff. . . acted to pursue this claim in Maryland,” and that Plaintiff
“relied on the services of both firms in prosecuting this case.” ECF No. 45-1, p. 4. Specifically,
Plaintiff maintains that Riley, P.C. acted “as a resource [so that] Maryland counsel avoided the
need to spend hours of research on various legal points, as [Riley, P.C.] was available to consult
regarding these matters.” Id. The Court rejects this reasoning.
Plaintiff is not entitled to attorney’s fees for Riley, P.C.’s services. Mr. Riley was not
entered as an attorney of record with the Court and thus he was not recognized by the Court as
representing Plaintiff. Kind & Dashoff also served as sole counsel at trial, and introduced, and
the Court accepted, Mr. Riley only as a witness. Any service as a resource Riley, P.C. may have
provided to Kind & Dashoff was at Plaintiff’s expense, as it appears to the Court that Mr. Riley
is better identified as “house counsel” in the classic sense. There is no reason to believe that Mr.
Riley regularly billed Plaintiff for the legal services associated with this claim or others.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the
Motion. Plaintiff’s counsel is awarded $1,372.00 in costs. Plaintiff has fourteen (14) days to
submit an amended Statement of Attorney’s Fees for Kind & Dashoff, LLC, with an
accompanying affidavit, as detailed above.
September 8, 2017
Charles B. Day
United States Magistrate Judge
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