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Archway Insurance Services, LLC v. Harris

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 5, 2014

ARCHWAY INSURANCE SERVICES, LLC, et al., Plaintiff(s),
v.
JAMES HARRIS, et al., Defendant(s).

ORDER

JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is defendants' motion for attorney's fees from the inception of the case to March 21, 2013. (Doc. # 169). Plaintiffs have responded (doc. # 171) and defendants have replied (doc. # 175).

Also before the court is defendants' motion for attorney's fees and costs pursuant to an offer of judgment under Nevada law. (Doc. # 170). Plaintiffs have responded (doc. # 172) and defendants have replied (doc. # 176). Defendants have also filed a supplement. (Doc. # 177).

I. Background

This matter arises out of claims of fraud and breach of contract that were dismissed by this court as a result of plaintiffs' motion for voluntary dismissal (doc. # 103) and defendants' second motion for summary judgment (doc. # 102). ( See order, doc. # 166). Plaintiffs requested dismissal with prejudice on their breach of contract claims after they could not offer evidence to contradict defendants' claim that the signatures on the alleged contract were not authentic. (Doc. # 103). Defendants sought summary judgment on the claim of fraud, because the valuation of a book of business was an opinion about future worth, not a fraudulent claim. (Doc. # 166 at p. 10).

In granting plaintiffs' motion for voluntary dismissal, this court stated that "[d]efendants may move for attorney's fees at the conclusion of this case." (Doc. # 166 at p. 7).

Defendants served an offer of judgment to plaintiffs on May 22, 2012, for $10, 100.00. (Doc. # 170 at p. 2). Defendants submitted the offer of judgment for the purposes of NRCP 68 and NRS 17.115. (Doc. # 170 at p. 2). Plaintiffs did not accept the offer of judgment.

II. Discussion

A. Motion for Attorney's Fees and Costs (Doc. # 169)

A court may condition dismissal upon plaintiff's paying appropriate costs and fees to defendants. See Westlands Water Dist. v. United States, 100 F.3d 94, 97 (9th Cir. 1996). The court previously stated it "may award fees and costs incurred in relation to [the breach of contract] claim up until plaintiffs' letter of March 21, 2013." (Doc. # 166 at p. 7). Plaintiffs do not dispute that dismissal was conditioned upon paying of appropriate fees. (Doc. # 171 at p. 5). Plaintiffs instead dispute defendants' calculation of fees, and claim that defendants seek all fees and costs as opposed to the fees relating only to the breach of contract claim. (Doc. # 171 at p. 5).

Defendants respond that the breach of contract claim "represented over 99.5% of the damages [] sought by [p]laintiffs." (Doc. # 175 at p. 3). Therefore, defendants argue that, because very little time was expended on the other claims, they are entitled to the full amount of fees and costs requested. (Doc. # 175 at p. 6).

The court disagrees with defendants' assertion that the fraud claim and breach of contract claim are the same. Count one of the complaint was for fraud, and specifically alleged that defendants misrepresented the volume of the book of business in an attempt to induce plaintiffs into entering into a transaction for financing. (Doc. # 1 at p. 14-15). Count two for the breach of contract alleged that defendants failed to honor a loan guarantee. (Doc. # 1 at p. 15). Although both claims have been dismissed by the court, they still allege different conduct. Defendants' assertion that "the two primary claims were for the same purported damages, and both were essentially guaranty claims" is not persuasive. (Doc. # 175 at p. 6).

The local rules require motions for attorneys fees to be reviewed and edited, and require that the attorney authenticating the information confirm the costs charged are reasonable. See Local Rule 54-16(c). Defendants have not reviewed and edited the fees requested in an effort to limit them to those incurred in relation to the breach of contract claim as previously directed by the court. ( See order doc # 166 at p. 7).

Therefore, defendants' motion for attorney's fees and costs from the inception of the case to March 21, ...


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