SANCTIONS: $4,000 11(b)(2) sanctions against Plaintiff’s attorney, reduced from $14,498 requested by time not related to relevant motion and because of ease of resolution of res judicata issues… Molloy.
The Court previously found that Arlene Joseph’s attempt to amend to add wrongful termination under the FLSA for reporting unpaid wages was barred by the jury’s rejection of her FLSA wage claim (it awarded $68,456 under the WDA), and ordered her lawyer Stacey Weldele-Wade to pay LineHaul its fees “incurred in filing and pursuing its motion for partial summary judgment.” (MLW 5/18/13). LineHaul requests $14,498 fees & costs for 92.5 hours. Its counsel’s affidavit shows 47.1 hours researching & drafting the motion, 2.3 hours reviewing the response brief, and 20.1 hours drafting the reply brief, and includes 23 hours of attorney and paralegal time for opposing Joseph’s motion to stay and sever/remand her state law claims.
Weldele-Wade argues that the 23 hours of attorney and paralegal time are beyond the scope of the Court’s order, which awarded fees “incurred in filing and pursuing its motion for partial summary judgment.” That objection is well-taken. $3,738 is deducted from the proposed award.
She also argues that the hours are not reasonable on their face or based on the record established by LineHaul’s counsel, who claims 69.5 hours pursuing the motion for summary judgment at a cost of $10,760. She claims counsel spent only 48.1 hours on “an analogous motion for partial summary judgment” in the related wrongful discharge case, not the issue of res judicata. While the motions are distinguishable, the wrongful discharge motion undoubtedly raised more difficult questions than the motion in this case. Application of res judicata was self-evident and straightforward — Weldele-Wade could have raised her §215(a)(3) claim in the previous case but did not and offered no explanation for not doing so; as a result, that claim is now barred by res judicata. It’s as simple as that. That being said, LineHaul’s request of $10,760 might be reasonable, but the Court need not resolve that question. The requested amount is beyond what is necessary “for effective deterrence” and “to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated.” Rule 11(c)(4). Considering the nature of the issues raised by LineHaul’s motion for summary judgment and the ease with which they were resolved, $4,000 is a sufficient sanction.
Joseph v. LineHaul Logistics, 40 MFR 352, 5/28/13 important site.
Stacey Weldele-Wade (Antonioli & Wade), Missoula, for Joseph; Cory Laird & Fred Simpson (Reep, Bell & Laird), Missoula, for LineHaul.
This content is restricted to site members. If you are an existing user, please login. New users may register below.