United States District Court, D. Nevada
M Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Court.
before the Court is the Motion for Attorney's Fees, (ECF
No. 148), filed by Plaintiffs Assurance Company of America
and Northern Insurance Company of New York (collectively
“Plaintiffs”). Defendant Ironshore Specialty
Insurance Company (“Defendant”) filed a Response,
(ECF No. 154), and Plaintiffs filed a Reply, (ECF No. 157).
For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs' Motion is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
case arises from a dispute over insurance coverage for
various underlying lawsuits in Nevada state court. (Second
Am. Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 15). On March 24, 2017, the
Court conducted a one-day bench trial to determine whether
Defendant owed equitable contribution to Plaintiffs for the
defense and settlement of these underlying lawsuits.
(See Trial Minutes, ECF No. 131). That same day, and
after a full consideration of the briefs and oral arguments,
the Court issued its ruling on the bench in favor of
Plaintiffs in the amount of $488, 233.00. (Id.). On
October 12, 2017, the Court issued a written explanatory
Order providing additional detail as to its ruling. (Written
Order, ECF No. 133). Subsequently, the Clerk of Court entered
judgment in favor of Plaintiffs in accordance with the
Court's ruling at trial. (Judgment, ECF No. 146).
Plaintiffs now move for attorney's fees and prejudgment
interest pursuant to Nevada Rule of Civil Procedure
(“NRCP”) 68(f) and N.R.S. § 17.130(2). (Mot.
Atty. Fees, ECF No. 148).
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2) allows a party to file a
motion for attorney's 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. “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.
request $132, 989.12 in prejudgment interest. (Mot. Atty.
Fees 2:14-3:14). In diversity actions, state law governs the
award of prejudgment interest. In re Exxon Valdez,
484 F.3d 1098, 1101 (9th Cir. 2007). N.R.S. § 17.130(2)
provides that “the judgment draws interest from the
time of service of the summons and complaint until
satisfied.” This interest is “compensation for
use by defendant of money to which plaintiff is entitled from
the time the cause of action accrues until the time of
judgment.” Ramada Inns, Inc. v. Sharp, 711
P.2d 1, 2 (Nev. 1985). Defendant does not object to
Plaintiffs' calculation in their Response. (See
Resp., ECF No. 154). Accordingly, the Court grants
Plaintiffs' request for prejudgment interest at the
statutorily proscribed rate.
request $122, 257.50 in attorney's fees under NRCP 68(f).
(Mot. Atty. Fees 3:15-4:16). Under NRCP 68(f), a party may
recover attorney's fees if the opposing party rejects an
offer of judgment and fails to obtain a more favorable
outcome. The purpose of the offer of judgment rule is to
promote and encourage the settlement of lawsuits and save
money for the court system, the parties, and the taxpayers.
Muihe v. A.N. Las Vegas Cab Co., 799 P.2d 559, 561
(Nev. 1990). The Ninth Circuit has held that a state's
offer of judgment rule is substantive, and therefore a
federal court sitting in diversity jurisdiction should follow
the state's offer of judgment rules. MRO
Commc'ns, Inc. v. AT&T, 197 F.3d 1276, 1281 (9th
Cir. 1999) (citing Alyeska Pipeline Serv. v. Wilderness
Society, 421 U.S. 240, 259 (1975)). Here, Plaintiffs
made an offer of judgment to Defendant on March 19, 2015, for
$250, 000.00. (Mot. Atty. Fees 2:5-6). At the bench trial on
March 24, 2017, the Court awarded Plaintiffs damages totaling
$488, 233.00. (See Trial Minutes, ECF No. 131). The
Court therefore has discretion to issue attorney's fees
under NRCP 68(f).
deciding whether to award penalties under the offer of
judgment rule, the court's discretion is governed by the
Beattie factors: “(1) whether the
plaintiff's claim was brought in good faith; (2) whether
the defendants' offer of judgment was reasonable and in
good faith in both its timing and amount; (3) whether the
plaintiff's decision to reject the offer . . . was
grossly unreasonable or in bad faith; and (4) whether the
fees sought by the offeror are reasonable and justified in
amount.” Beattie v. Thomas, 668 P.2d 268, 247
(Nev. 1983). No. one Beattie factor is dispositive,
and the court need not necessarily make explicit findings as
to all of the factors. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. v. Pratt
and Whitney, 815 P.2d 601, 606 (Nev. 1991);
Certified Fire Prot. Inc. v. Precision Constr., 283
P.3d 250, 258 (Nev. 2012). In cases where the defendant is
the offeree, courts look to whether the defenses were
litigated in good faith. Yamaha Motor Co., U.S.A. v.
Arnoult, 955 P.2d 661, 673 (Nev. 1998).
review of the above factors, the Court declines to award
attorney's fees in this case. Although Plaintiffs'
offer of judgment was reasonable and brought in good faith,
the court cannot conclude that Defendant's decision to
reject the offer of judgment was “grossly
unreasonable.” Beattie, 668 P.2d at 247. This
case presented difficult legal issues, which the parties were
simultaneously litigating in two other parallel actions.
See American Zurich Insurance Company, et al. v.
Ironshore Specialty Insurance Company,
2:14-cv-00060-TLN- DB; Assurance Company of America, et.
al. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Company, 2:15-
cv-00460-JAD-PAL. At the time of Plaintiffs' offer of
judgment, Defendant had obtained a favorable ruling in its
California action and later obtained a similar ruling from a
different judge in this district. Am. Zurich Ins. Co. v.
Ironshore Specialty Ins. Co., No. 2:14-CV-00060- TLN-KJ,
2014 WL 3687727 (E.D. Cal. July 23, 2014); Assurance Co.
of Am. v. Ironshore Specialty Ins. Co., No.
2:15-CV-00460-JAD-PAL, 2017 WL 3666298, at *2 (D. Nev. Aug.
24, 2017). Although this Court found early in the instant
case that Defendant had a duty to defend in at least one of
its underlying actions, the Court did not issue its more
expansive summary judgment ruling until July 29, 2015, which
was after Plaintiffs' offer of judgment. Assurance
Co. of Am. v. Ironshore Specialty Ins. Co., No.
2:13-CV-2191-GMN-CWH, 2015 WL 4579983 (D. Nev. July 29,
2015). The legal landscape between the parties' cases at
the time Plaintiffs made their offer was far from settled.
The Court therefore finds that Defendant litigated in good
their Reply, Plaintiffs do little to counter these points.
Instead, Plaintiffs rest on the Court's discretion and
the reasonableness of Plaintiffs' requested fees. (Reply
1:26-2:12, ECF No. 157). Although Plaintiffs' requested
fees do not appear unreasonable, the Court finds that the
Beattie factors on balance weigh against an award in
this case. See Gallagher v. Crystal Bay Casino, LLC,
No. 3:08-CV-00055-ECR, 2012 WL 1409244, at *5 (D. Nev. Apr.
20, 2012) (stating that when the factors weigh both for and
against attorney's fees, “the Court is ...