United States District Court, D. Nevada
before the court is plaintiff Branch Banking and Trust
Company's motion for attorneys' fees and nontaxable
costs. (ECF No. 171). Defendants filed a response (ECF No.
172), and plaintiff filed a reply (ECF No. 176).
8, 2012, plaintiff filed an amended complaint against
defendants involving rights under a property loan, asserting
three claims for relief: (1) deficiency; (2) breach of
guarantee; and (3) breach of the covenant of good faith and
fair dealing. (ECF No. 6). On August 5, 2014, this court
granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on all
issues but the fair market value of the underlying property
at the time of the trustee's sale. (ECF No. 97). This
court also denied plaintiff's motion for hearing and
defendants' motions for summary judgment and
certification of questions of law to the Nevada Supreme
Court. (ECF Nos. 69, 70, 93, 97).
16, 2016, the court adopted Magistrate Judge Foley's
report and recommendation, finding that the fair market value
of the underlying property was $438, 648.25 at the time of
the relevant trustee's sale. (ECF Nos. 166, 167). On July
7, 2016, judgment was entered against defendants, jointly and
severally, in the amount of $908, 990.07. (ECF No. 169).
21, 2016, plaintiff filed the instant motion for
attorneys' fees and nontaxable costs. (ECF No. 171).
Plaintiff argues: (1) the terms of the promissory note and
guarantee require defendants' payment of attorneys'
fees; (2) the four factors of Brunzell v. Golden Gate
Nat. Bank, 455 P.2d 33 (Nev. 1969), weigh in favor of
the requested award; (3) Local Rule 54-14 provides for
attorneys' fees; and (4) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
54(d) and Local Rule 54-1 entitle plaintiff to costs, as
itemized in plaintiff's exhibit. See (ECF Nos. 171,
response, defendants first argue that plaintiff has not
followed Local Rule 54-14 by failing to address the twelve
factors enumerated in that rule. See LR 54-14(b)(3);
see also (ECF No. 172). Next, defendants state that
Bruznell does not support plaintiff's motion
because: (1) staffing the case with ten individuals is
unreasonable; (2) the fees are excessive in light of Mr.
Nork's billed hours; and (3) plaintiff's submitted
exhibits illustrate work billed in this case that is
excessive, vaguely recorded, or irrelevant to this action.
(ECF No. 172). Finally, defendants assert that
plaintiff's request for costs is unfounded.
replied, first resisting defendants' characterization of
its Local Rule 54-14 summaries. (ECF No. 176). Next,
plaintiff argues that the fees are reasonable because
plaintiff's counsel utilized cost-controlled staffing for
this action, and work sometimes had to be shifted between
firm employees. (Id.). Further, pretrial motions
allegedly required the hours logged by counsel, the entries
involving the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation were
necessary in anticipation of trial, the billing table
sufficiently articulates the necessary work done in this
case, and defendants' objection to the payment of costs
is not supported by legal authority. (Id.).
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2) allows a party to file a
motion for attorneys' fees if it: (1) is filed within 14
days after judgment is entered; (2) identifies the legal
basis for the award; and (3) indicates the amount requested
or an estimate thereof. Moreover, “[a] federal court
sitting in diversity applies the law of the forum state
regarding an award of attorneys' fees.” Kona
Enterprises, Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 883
(9th Cir. 2000). A Nevada trial court “may not award
attorney fees absent authority under a statute, rule, or
contract.” Albios v. Horizon Communities,
Inc., 132 P.3d 1022, 1028 (Nev. 2006).
Brunzell, the Nevada Supreme Court articulated four
factors for a court to apply when assessing requests for
(1) the qualities of the advocate: his ability, his training,
education, experience, professional standing and skill; (2)
the character of the work to be done: its difficulty, its
intricacy, its importance, time and skill required, the
responsibility imposed and the prominence and character of
the parties where they affect the importance of the
litigation; (3) the work actually performed by the lawyer:
the skill, time and attention given to the work; (4) the
result: whether the attorney was successful and what benefits
455 P.2d at 33. The trial court may exercise its discretion
when determining the value of legal services in a case.
Id. at 33-34.
a trial court applying Nevada law must utilize
Bruzell to assess the merits of a request for
attorneys' fees, yet that court is not required to make
findings on each factor. Logan v. Abe, 350 P.3d
1139, 1143 (Nev. 2015). “Instead, the district court
need only demonstrate that it considered the required
factors, and the award must be supported by substantial
evidence.” Id. (citing Uniroyal Goodrich
Tire Co. v. Mercer, 890 P.2d 785, 789 (Nev. 1995),