United States District Court, D. Nevada
Defendants Rick Abelson, Maysoun Fletcher, Najwas Abazaki, and Akram H. Abolhosen's Motion for Award of Attorney's Fees and Non-Taxable Costs (ECF No. 123)
RICHARD F. BOULWARE, II, District Judge.
Presently before the Court is Defendants Rick Abelson, Maysoun Fletcher, Najwas Abazaki, and Akram H. Abolhosen's ("Defendants") Motion for Award of Attorney Fees and Costs Not Taxable Pursuant to LR 54-1 through 54-15 (ECF No. 123), filed on March 25, 2014. Plaintiff Fouad Daou ("Fouad") filed an Opposition (ECF No. 124) on April 1, 2014. Defendants filed a Reply (ECF No. 127) on April 11, 2014.
The parties are familiar with the facts of this case, and the Court will not repeat them here except where necessary. Fouad has asserted claims for breach of contract (Count One), unjust enrichment (Count Two), fraud in the inducement (Count Three), fraud (Count Four), breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Count Five, mislabeled in the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 41) as Count Six), and civil conspiracy (Count Six, mislabeled in the Amended Complaint as Count Seven) against all Defendants in this case. On March 10, 2014, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants Maysoun Fletcher ("Maysoun"), Najwas Abazaki ("Najwas"), and Akram H. Abolhosen ("Akram") on all claims Fouad asserted against them. See Order (ECF No. 117). The same day, the Court also granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant Riad "Rick" Abelson ("Rick") on all claims. See Order (ECF No. 120). On September 19, 2014, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of all of Fouad's claims against Defendant Souraya Abelson ("Souraya"). See Order on Stipulation (ECF No. 135). The following claims remain pending:
Rick and Akram's counterclaims against Fouad;
Rick and Akram's third party claims against Donia Daou ("Donia") and Ziad Daou ("Ziad").
See Order (ECF No. 121) at 1.
Defendants move for $49, 637.45 in attorney's fees pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes § 18.010(2)(b), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2), and Local Rule 54-16. Defendants contend they incurred a total of $99, 274.90 in attorney's fees from November 2011, to March 23, 2014. Defendants' counsel from November 2011 through April 2012 was Jeffrey R. Albregts of Santoro, Driggs, Walch, Kearney, Holley & Thompson ("Santoro") who billed $20, 077.75 in attorney's fees. Order (ECF No. 55); Defs.' Mot. for Award of Att'y Fees and Costs Not Taxable Pursuant to LR 54-1 through 54-15 ["Defs.' Mot."] (ECF No. 123), Ex. F. In March 2012, Philip T. Varricchio of the Varricchio Law Firm ("Varricchio") substituted for Santoro as Defendants' counsel, and Defendants incurred $79, 197.15 in attorney's fees from Varricchio between March 2012 and March 23, 2014. Defs.' Mot. at 9, Ex. G. Defendants submitted a summary of billings by Santoro and Varricchio in support of their Motion. Defs.' Mot., Ex. F-Ex. H.
Defendants seek one-half of all fees, costs, and expenses, arguing Fouad's claims brought against them were baseless. Defendants argue Fouad knew his claims against Defendants were without merit, but nonetheless continued to pursue the suit against Defendants. According to Defendants, Fouad had two years to establish his claims, yet did not provide any evidence in support of his claims against Defendants, resulting in the Court granting summary judgment in Defendants' favor.
Defendants also argue that Fouad's claims were brought or maintained to harass Defendants. Defendants assert that Fouad's claims sought to obtain approval for Fouad's conversion of two real properties in Lebanon and $70, 000 Rick gave to Fouad. Defendants further contend that Fouad intended to attack Defendants, who are his family members, by creating "chaos, in-fighting, loss of face and reputation, and religious integrity" in naming multiple family members to the suit. Defs.' Mot. at 2, 10.
Defendants concede that the billings for $99, 274.90 in attorney's fees include Rick and Akram's counterclaims against Fouad, Rick and Akram's third party claims against Donia and Ziad, and defense of Fouad's claims against Souraya, which have since been dismissed but were pending at the time the motion was filed. Defendants maintain that it is difficult to apportion the fees between their defense against Fouad's claims and their prosecution of counterclaims and third party claims, except for a few specific tasks related to the briefing of motions. Defendants therefore propose an apportionment of one-half of all incurred attorney's fees.
Defendants also move for $2, 015.53 in costs, which is one-half of all nontaxable costs billed. Defendants contend that they incurred a combined total of $4, 031.05 in nontaxable costs from Santoro and Varricchio. Given that the costs billed by Santoro and Varricchio include Rick and Akram's pending counterclaims against Fouad, pending third party claims against Donia and Ziad, and Fouad's claims against Souraya that were pending at the time of the filing of the motion, as well as the difficulty of apportioning those costs, Defendants propose an apportionment of one-half of nontaxable costs.
Fouad responds that Defendants offer no evidence to support a finding that Fouad's claims against Defendants were unreasonable or brought to harass Defendants. Fouad argues that Defendants' use of the Court's summary judgment Orders to show that Fouad's claims were brought unreasonably or to harass is insufficient. Fouad further argues that if his claims were unreasonable or brought to harass Defendants, Defendants would have brought dispositive motions earlier, rather than participating in the suit until the completion of discovery. Fouad also contends Defendants do not provide a fair estimate of ...