United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND FOR
ATTORNEYS' FEES (ECF NOS. 56, 57)
P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ezra and Cathy Hani move for an award of punitive damages
against defendants Simon S. Abraham and KDA Holdings, LLC.
ECF No. 56. The Ilanis also move for an award of some of
their attorneys' fees against Abraham and KDA. ECF No.
57. Abraham and KDA did not oppose either motion, which
constitutes grounds for granting the motion for punitive
damages. See Local Rule 7-2(d) ("The failure of
an opposing party to file points and authorities in response
to any motion, except... a motion for attorney's fees,
constitutes a consent to the granting of the motion.").
More importantly, both motions are supported by good cause.
Therefore, I grant them.
determining whether to grant punitive damages, courts
"consider numerous factors including the defendant's
financial position, culpability, and the extent to which this
culpability offends one's sense of justice, ... the
gravity of the injury suffered by the plaintiff and the means
necessary to deter future similar conduct." Evans v.
Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 5 P.3d 1043, 1053 (2000)
(citations omitted). Although allegations of fact in a
complaint are deemed admitted upon entry of default, an award
of punitive damages must be based on more than those
A plaintiff is never entitled to punitive damages as a matter
of right; an award of punitive damages requires clear and
convincing evidence of fraud, malice, or oppression. When
punitive damages are sought by default judgment, the court
must have independent evidence to support the award because
punitive-damages-worthy conduct alleged in a complaint is not
regarded as admitted by default.
Alutiiq Int'lSols., LLC v. OIC Marianas Ins.
Corp., 149 F.Supp.3d 1208, 1215 (D. Nev. 2016)
(quotation and citations omitted).
the plaintiffs' motion and my prior orders detail the
fraudulent acts committed by Abraham and KDA. I need not
repeat them here. The plaintiffs offer declarations,
documents, and other evidence to corroborate their
allegations and support their request for punitive damages.
The defendants' fraudulent activities were complex and
well-orchestrated to hide their true nature from the
plaintiffs. The defendants developed and took advantage of
the plaintiffs' trust through mutual connections. The
plaintiffs depleted their entire savings and other accounts
and depleted their children's college funds. The evidence
of the defendants' fraud, malice, and oppression is
clear, convincing, and corroborated. Their actions offend my
sense of justice, and I believe I am not alone in that
thought. The plaintiffs have no evidence about the
defendants' financial positions because the defendants
have not participated in this case or discovery. The
plaintiffs have suffered serious economic injury, and a large
punitive damages award should help deter the defendants and
others from engaging in such fraudulent activities in the
future. I award punitive damages of three times the amount of
compensatory damages I previously awarded.
I set aside the original entry of default judgment against
Abraham and KDA, conditioned in part upon their reimbursing
the Ilanis the attorneys' fees they incurred in
connection with entry of the default judgment. ECF NO. 47.
After the defendants failed to satisfy the conditions I had
imposed, I reinstated the default judgment and permitted the
Ilanis to again seek their attorneys' fees. They now move
for an award of their fees incurred in connection with the
original default judgment and the reinstatement.
state substantive law governs a case, then an award of
attorney fees is also governed by state law." Muniz
v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 738 F.3d 214, 218 (9th
Cir. 2013). Under Nevada law, "attorney's fees are
only available when authorized by a rule, statute, or
contract." Flamingo Realty, Inc. v. Midwest Dev.,
Inc., 879 P.2d 69, 73 (Nev. 1994) (quotation omitted).
reasonableness of an attorneys' fee award is also
determined by state law when a federal court is sitting in
diversity. Mangold v. Cal. Pub. Util. Comm 'n,
67 F.3d 1470, 1478 (9th Cir. 1995). In Nevada, "the
method upon which a reasonable fee is determined is subject
to the discretion of the court, which is tempered only by
reason and fairness." Shuette v. Beazer Homes
Holdings Corp., 124 P.3d 530, 548-49 (Nev. 2005) (en
banc) (quotation omitted). One permissible method of
calculation is the lodestar approach, which involves
multiplying "the number of hours reasonably spent on the
case by a reasonable hourly rate." Id. at 549
& n.98 (quotation omitted). In most cases, the lodestar
figure is a presumptively reasonable fee award. Camacho
v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 978 (9th Cir.
determining the reasonableness of a fee request, I am guided
by the factors listed in Brunzell v. Golden Gate National
(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 31, 33 (Nev. 1969); see also Haley v. Dist.
Ct,273 P.3d 855, 860 (Nev. 2012) ("[I]n
determining the amount of fees to award, the court is not
limited to one specific approach; its analysis may begin with
any method rationally designed to calculate a reasonable
amount, so long as the requested amount is reviewed in light