United States District Court, D. Nevada
C. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Title VII employment discrimination case was tried to jury
verdict on February 24, 2017. Now pending before the Court is
Defendants' Motion for Attorney Fees. (ECF No. 96.) For
the reasons given herein, the Court grants the motion in
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Jasminka Dubric (“Dubric”) began working for
Defendant A Cab, LLC (“A Cab”) in June 2013.
Dubric alleged that from the beginning of her employment
until May 26, 2015, Defendant Creighton J. Nady
(“Nady”) “made comments about
Plaintiff's appearance and body” and hugged and
touched her without permission. (Compl. ¶ 10, ECF No.
1.) Dubric alleged that in February 2015, Nady “grabbed
her face and forcefully kissed her on the mouth, ”
(Id. at ¶ 12; Dubric Dep. 49:1-50:16, ECF No.
40-2), and that on May 26, 2015, Nady grabbed Dubric's
arm, pulled her toward him, and attempted to kiss her on the
lips; however, Nady ended up kissing only Dubric's cheek
after she turned her head and pulled away, (Compl. ¶ 13;
Dubric Dep. 88:10-89:18). On or about May 27, 2015, A Cab
demoted Dubric from road supervisor to taxi cab driver, and
Dubric resigned. (Compl. ¶¶ 14-15.)
November 6, 2015, Dubric filed this suit making three claims
solely against A Cab: (1) sexual harassment-hostile work
environment in violation of Title VII; (2) sexual
harassment-quid pro quo in violation of Title VII; and (3)
retaliation in violation of Title VII; and two claims against
both A Cab and Nady: (1) intentional infliction of emotional
distress; and (2) battery. In addition, Nady asserted a
counterclaim against Dubric for defamation. On December 8,
2016, the Court denied Defendants' motion seeking
defensive summary judgment on Dubric's claims and
offensive summary judgment on Nady's counterclaim.
(Order, ECF No. 42.)
trial, following Dubric's case-in-chief, the Court
partially granted Defendants' Rule 50 motion for judgment
as a matter of law. The Court dismissed Dubric's Title
VII claims of hostile work environment and retaliation.
However, the Court declined to dismiss the claims of quid pro
quo sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and battery. At the close of evidence, the Court
further narrowed Dubric's claims, granting judgment in
favor of A Cab-but not Nady-on the state law claims of
intentional infliction of emotional distress and battery.
February 24, 2017, the jury found against Dubric on all
remaining claims. The jury also found against Nady on his
counterclaim for defamation.
and Nady have now filed a motion for attorneys' fees
under Section 706(k) of Title VII. (ECF No. 96.) Defendants
seek recovery of $143, 905.50 in fees to be distributed as
follows: $86, 397.50 to Rodriguez Law Offices, P.C.
(“RLO”), $18, 080.00 to Kamer Zucker Abbott
(“KZA”), and $39, 428.00 to Mace J. Yampolsky,
Ltd. (“MJY”). (Mot. Att'y Fees 4, ECF No.
96.) These figures represent the total fees incurred in
defense counsel's litigation of the case.
Title VII case, “the court, in its discretion, may
allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's
fee. . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). While
successful plaintiffs in civil rights actions are awarded
attorneys' fees as a matter of course, prevailing
defendants are awarded fees only in “exceptional cases,
” lest plaintiffs with legitimate claims be deterred
from filing suit. Harris v. Maricopa Cnty. Superior
Court, 631 F.3d 963, 968 (9th Cir. 2011). Accordingly, a
prevailing defendant in a civil rights case is awarded
attorneys' fees only if the court finds that the
plaintiff's action was “frivolous, unreasonable, or
groundless, or that the plaintiff continued to litigate after
it clearly became so.” Christiansburg Garment Co.
v. EEOC, 434 U.S. 412, 421 (1978).
case may be deemed frivolous only when the result is obvious
or the arguments of error are wholly without merit.”
Gibson v. Office of Att'y Gen., State of
California, 561 F.3d 920, 929 (9th Cir. 2009) (citations
and punctuation omitted). Whether an action is frivolous,
unreasonable, or without foundation must be determined on a
claim-by-claim basis, see Christiansburg, 434 U.S.
at 422, and only those fees incurred in defending against the
frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless claims are
recoverable. Harris, 631 F.3d at 971.
fact that a plaintiff may ultimately lose his case is not in
itself a sufficient justification for the assessment of
fees.” Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 14 (1980).
Accordingly, courts must avoid engaging in “post
hoc reasoning by concluding that, because a plaintiff
did not ultimately prevail, his action must have been
unreasonable or without foundation.”
Christiansburg, 434 U.S. at 421-22.
be helpful first to set the stage by clearing away some
clutter. First, it is Title VII that authorizes an award of
attorneys' fees in this case. Therefore, any claims
outside the umbrella of Title VII cannot support an award of
attorneys' fees. Accordingly, any fees incurred in
defending the claims of intentional infliction of emotional
distress and battery or, of course, in pursuing the
counterclaim of defamation cannot be awarded here. Second, as
a technical matter, Dubric asserted her Title VII claims
against A Cab only, and not Nady. Therefore, although the
instant motion is brought by both Defendants, attorneys'
fees may only ...