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J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Three Brothers of Hyattsville, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

September 8, 2017

J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
THREE BROTHERS OF HYATTSVILLE, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles B. Day United States Magistrate Judge

         Before this Court is Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs (ECF No. 43) (the “Motion”). Plaintiff J &J Sports Production, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendant Three Brothers of Hyattsville (“Defendant”), alleging Defendant (1) violated 47 U.S.C. § 605[1]; (2) violated 47 U.S.C. § 553[2]; and (3) acted in ways amounting to tortuous conversion. ECF No. 1, p. 1-5. The Court has reviewed the Motion, related memoranda, and applicable law. No hearing is deemed necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.). For the reasons presented below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the Motion.

         I. Factual Background

         Plaintiff owns certain nationwide television commercial distribution rights to the Floyd Mayweather, Jr v. Robert Guerrero, WBC Welterweight Championship Fight Program, telecast nationwide on Saturday, May 4, 2013 (“the Program”). Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff entered into various sublicensing agreements with commercial entities throughout North America, including restaurants, bars, hotels, etc., whereby these entities were granted the right to publicly show the Program to their patrons. Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant “did unlawfully publish, divulge and exhibit the Program” at its establishment without entering into such an agreement with Plaintiff. Id.

         A bench trial was held on July 5, 2017, where the Court granted judgment in favor of Plaintiff as to Count I, awarding $6, 600. ECF No. 41, 42. Plaintiff now seeks an award of attorney's fees and costs. ECF No. 43.

         II. Discussion

         The Court granted judgment in favor of Plaintiff pursuant 47 U.S.C. § 605. Transcript of Record at 3:20-24.[3] Section 605(e)(3)(B)(iii) provides that the Court “shall direct the recovery of full costs, including awarding reasonable attorneys' fees to an aggrieved party who prevails.”

         a. Plaintiff's Entitlement to Costs

         The Court finds that the costs incurred are reasonable. Under Rule 54(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs--other than attorney's fees--should be allowed to the prevailing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). It is established that the party that is “entitled to recover attorney's fees [is] also entitled to recover reasonable litigation-related expenses as part of their overall award.” Kabore v. Anchor Staffing, Inc., No. L-10-3204, 2012 WL 5077636, at *10 (D. Md. Oct. 17, 2012).

         The actual amount sought, as outlined below, is $1, 412.85, but Plaintiff requested only $1, 372.00 in the Motion. ECF No. 43, p. 2. Plaintiff honors this miscalculation in its subsequent filings, claiming “Plaintiff will only be requesting $1, 372.00, as this is the amount requested in its original Request for Costs.” ECF No. 45-11, p. 2.

Investigator fee

$600.00

Complaint filing fee

$400.00

Private Process Server Fee

$100.00

Courier charges

$11.83

Photocopies charges

$20.00

Investigative expenses

$281.02

TOTAL

$1, 412.85[4]

         Defendant objects to the costs requested by Plaintiff, arguing that Plaintiff did not file its Bill of Costs in the format required by Local Rule 109.1. Defendant specifies that Plaintiff's filings are not in the requisite format for a Bill of Costs because the request was not “accompanied by a memorandum setting forth the grounds and authorities supporting the request” nor had the “vouchers or bills supporting the costs being requested . . . attached as exhibits.” While Defendant accurately identifies this deficiency in Plaintiff's filing, Plaintiff remedied the matter in its “Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees and Costs” (ECF No. 45-1) by filing a supporting memorandum (ECF No. 45-11) and documentation supporting most of its costs (ECF No. 45-12). However, Plaintiff failed to provide a “voucher or bill” supporting the cost of the courier charge for $11.83. Without this documentation, the Court will not award Plaintiff reimbursement for that cost, reducing Plaintiff's claim to $1, 401.02. However, the lack of support for the courier charge is inconsequential because Plaintiff is requesting $40.85 less than it would otherwise be entitled to, encompassing in that amount the unsupported courier charge. The Court finds that as the prevailing party, Plaintiff is entitled to recover reasonable costs incurred for a total of $1, 372.00.

         b. Plaintiff's Entitlement to Attorney's Fees

         In calculating an award of attorney's fees, Courts begin with the lodestar calculation. Robinson v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 560 F.3d 235, 243 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Grissom v. TheMills Corp., 549 F.3d 313, 320 (4th Cir. 2008)). The lodestar figure equals the number of reasonable hours expended by counsel multiplied by a ...


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