United States District Court, D. Maryland
CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.
pending is Bel Air Plaza Limited Partnership's motion for
attorneys' fees and expert witness costs. (Mot.
Attorneys' Fees, ECF No. 38). Oral argument is not
necessary to resolve the issues. See Local R. 105.6
(D. Md. 2014). The court will assume familiarity with this
case, and will recount only those facts necessary to resolve
the pending motion.
dispute arises from water damage in a store leased by Ross
Dress for Less, Inc. ("Ross") from Bel Air Plaza
Limited Partnership ("Bel Air"). Bel Air filed a
declaratory judgment action in the Circuit Court for Harford
County, Maryland. (Compl., ECF No. 2). Ross timely removed
the suit to this court and filed a counterclaim. (Answer &
Countercl., ECF No.
Air moved for summary judgment, which this court granted
after allowing additional discovery to proceed on several
late-produced documents. (Order, ECF No. 33; Memorandum, ECF
No. 36; Order, ECF No. 37).
granting summary judgment, the court held that Bel Air is a
"prevailing party" entitled to attorneys' fees
and costs pursuant to section 20.4.2 of the lease agreement
between the two parties. (Memorandum 12, ECF No. 36). Bel Air
timely filed a motion for attorneys' fees and costs.
(Mot. Attorneys' Fees, ECF No. 38). Ross contests the fee
request as being "vague, excessive, duplicative and
otherwise unreasonable." (Opp'n Mot. Attorneys'
Fees 1, ECF No. 41). For the reasons that follow, Bel
Air's motion will be granted with some reductions to the
Standard of Review
law provides an exception to the
"American Rule" when a contract provision provides
for an award of attorneys' fees. See Myers
v. Kayhoe, 391 Md. 188, 207 (2006) ("Contract
provisions providing for awards of attorney's fees to the
prevailing party in litigation under the contract generally
are valid and enforceable in Maryland."). The award,
however, is limited to reasonable fees and costs. To receive
attorneys' fees, the prevailing party must provide
"detailed records" that specify "the services
performed, by whom they were performed, the time expended
thereon, and the hourly rates charged." Rauch v.
McCall, 134 Md.App. 624, 639 (2000) (citation omitted).
"The burden is on the party seeking recovery to provide
the evidence necessary for the fact finder to evaluate the
reasonableness of the fees." Atl. Contracting &
Material Co. v. Ulico Cas. Co., 380 Md. 285, 316 (2004)
(citation omitted). The court "should use the factors
set forth in Rule 1.5 [of the Maryland Rules of Professional
Conduct ("MRPC")] as the foundation for analysis of
what constitutes a reasonable fee when the court awards fees
based on a contract entered by the parties."
Monmouth Meadows Homeowners Ass'n, Inc. v.
Hamilton, 416 Md. 325, 336-37 (2010). "The
reasonableness of attorneys' fees is generally a factual
determination within the sound discretion of [the
court]." Atl. Contracting, 380 Md. at 316
(internal quotation mark and citation omitted).
1.5(a) provides non-exclusive "factors to be considered
in determining the reasonableness of a fee":
(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty
of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform
the legal service properly;
(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the
acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other
employment of the lawyer;
(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar
(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the
(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship