MD Auto Group, LLC v. Nissan North America, Inc.
Order denying Plaintiff's request for an award of attorney fees. Related Docuement 35 . Judge Charles Esque Fleming on 9/20/2022. (S,SR)
Case: 1:21-cv-01584-CEF Doc #: 39 Filed: 09/20/22 1 of 3. PageID #: 411
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
MD AUTO GROUP, LLC,
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA, INC.,
CASE NO. 1:21-cv-1584
JUDGE CHARLES E. FLEMING
ORDER RE: ATTORNEY
On August 29, 2022, the Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff’s motion to
compel discovery (ECF No. 24) and denied Defendant’s cross motion for a protective order (ECF
No. 26). (ECF No. 34). The Court granted the motion to compel for six of Plaintiff’s eleven
discovery requests. Id.
On September 5, 2022, Plaintiff notified the Court that the parties were unable to agree on
what fees were owed, if any. (ECF No. 35). Plaintiff requested that the Court order Defendant to
pay them attorney fees in the amount of $19.447.50. Id. On September 12, 2022, Defendant
opposed Plaintiff’s request, arguing that both parties prevailed on the motion to compel in nearly
equal part, so neither party should receive its expenses. (ECF No. 36). Defendant also noted that
federal district courts in Ohio have consistently denied requests for attorney fees where parties
prevailed on a motion to compel in “approximate equal degree.” Id.
On September 14, 2022, Plaintiff replied that the “approximate equal degree” language is
not persuasive case law in the Northern District of Ohio because that standard has not been applied
in the Northern District of Ohio before. (ECF No. 37). Plaintiff argued that if the Court chooses
to apply that standard, then it prevailed on the majority of its claims and is entitled to an award of
Case: 1:21-cv-01584-CEF Doc #: 39 Filed: 09/20/22 2 of 3. PageID #: 412
its reasonable attorney fees. Id.
If a motion to compel “is granted in part and denied in part, the court may issue any
protective order authorized under Rule 26(c) and may, after giving an opportunity to be heard,
apportion the reasonable expenses for the motion.” F.R.C.P. 37(a)(5)(C). The Court has allowed
both parties the opportunity to be heard concerning the potential apportionment of reasonable
expenses. The discretionary nature of the awarding of fees, particularly in Rule 37(a)(5)(C), gives
the Court significant latitude to determine whether an award of sanctions is warranted. The
Southern District of Ohio has frequently determined that “[a]n award of sanctions under Rule
37(a)(5)(C) has been held to be inappropriate where the parties prevailed on a motion to compel
‘in approximate equal degree.’” Canter v. Alkermes Blue Care Elect Preferred Provider Plan, No.
1:17-cv-399, 2019 WL 1760175, at *2 (S.D. Ohio April 22, 2019) (quoting Wright v. State Farm
Fire and Cas. Co., No. 2:12-cv-409, 2013 WL 1945094, at *6 (S.D. Ohio May 9, 2013)). While
Plaintiff is correct that decisions from the Southern District of Ohio are not controlling authority,
the Court finds the precedent to be persuasive in this instance due to the dearth of interpretation of
Rule 37(a)(5)(C) within the Northern District of Ohio. The Court also finds that the “approximate
equal degree” interpretation is consistent with the language in Rule 37(a)(5)(C) that the Court may
“apportion” reasonable expenses.
There were an uneven number of discovery disputes (11) in Plaintiff’s motion to compel,
so it was impossible for the parties to each prevail on an equal number of the disputes. However,
the Court finds that the parties prevailed in “approximate equal degree” and an award of sanctions
is not appropriate under Rule 37(a)(5)(C). Reasonable expenses are apportioned to each party
approximately equally, so no award is necessary. Thus, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s request for
an award of attorney fees.
Case: 1:21-cv-01584-CEF Doc #: 39 Filed: 09/20/22 3 of 3. PageID #: 413
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: September 20, 2022
HONORABLE CHARLES E. FLEMING
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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