United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge.
Plaintiffs/Petitioners Star Development Group, LLC
("Star"), Hopkins Investors, LLC, and Hopkins
Hospitality Investors, LLC's (collectively,
"Hopkins") initiated this action against the
Defendants/Respondents Constructure Management, Inc.'s
("CMI") and Allied World Specialist Insurance
Company's (f/k/a Darwin National Assurance Co.) seeking
damages for breach of contract. The parties voluntarily
participated in arbitration, which resulted in a Final Award
("Award") in favor of CMI and against Star.
Subsequently, the Plaintiffs/Petitioners filed a petition to
vacate the Award, and the Defendants/Respondents filed a
motion to confirm the Award and award attorneys' fees. On
March 28, 2018, this Court granted the
Defendants/Respondents' motion to confirm the Award and
award attorneys' fees, and denied the
Plaintiffs/Petitioners' motion to vacate the Award. (ECF
Nos. 34, 35.)
April 23, 2018, the Petitioners filed a Motion to Alter
and/or Amend Judgment. (ECF No. 36.) The Motion asserted
that: (1) Defendants are only entitled to an award of
attorneys' fees with respect to the Respondents'
motion to confirm the . arbitration Award, and not with
respect to defending against the Petitioners' motion to
vacate the arbitration Award; and (2) attorneys' fees and
costs should only be awarded against Petitioner Star, not
against the Hopkins Petitioners, because this Court confirmed
the arbitration Award and entered Judgment only against Star.
(Id.) After holding a teleconference, this Court
denied in part and stayed in part the Motion to Alter and/or
Amend Judgment. (ECF No. 37.) Specifically, this Court: (1)
denied the Motion with respect to the Petitioners'
argument that attorneys' fees may not be awarded when a
prevailing party successfully defends against a motion to
vacate an arbitration Award; and (2) stayed, pending further
briefing, the issue of whether attorneys' fees and costs
should only be awarded against Star.
next day, Petitioners filed a Notice of Appeal of this
Court's March 28th Opinion and Order. Subsequently, the
parties briefed the attorneys' fees and costs issue.
Unbeknownst to this Court until recently, on April 25, 2018,
the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
sent a notice to the parties that k would not consider the
Petitioners' appeal until after this Court's
resolution of the Motion to Alter and/or Amend
Judgment. Since then, the parties have stipulated
that CMI and Allied World incurred $40, 000 in attorneys'
fees while opposing the petition to vacate the Arbitration
Award and confirming the Award. (Joint Stipulation, ECF No. 41.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) authorizes a district court to
alter, amend, or vacate a prior judgment. Katyle v. Penn
Nat'l Gaming, Inc., 637 F.3d 462, 471 n.4 (4th Cir.
2011), cert, denied, 132 S.Ct. 115 (2011). The
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
repeatedly recognized that a final judgment may be amended
under Rule 59(e) in only three circumstances: (1) to
accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to
account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to
correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.
See, e.g., Gagliano v. Reliance Standard Life
Ins. Co., 547 F.3d 230, 241 n.8 (4th Cir. 2008);
see also Fleming v. Maryland National Capital
Park & Planning Commission, Civ. No. DKC-11-2769,
2012 WL 12877387, at *1 (D. Md. Mar. 8, 2012). A Rule 59(e)
motion "may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to
raise arguments or present evidence i that
could have been raised prior to entry of judgment."
Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins.
Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998); see also
Kelly v. Simpson, Civ. No. RDB-16- 4067, 2017 WL
4065820, at *1 (D. Md. Jan. 26, 2017). Moreover, "[t]he
district court has considerable discretion in deciding
whether to modify or amend a judgment."
Fleming, 2012 WL 12877387, at *1.
Petitioners assert that this Court's award of
attorneys' fees and costs should only be against Star,
and not Hopkins, given that the arbitration Award was only
against Star and this Court affirmed that Award and entered
Judgment only against Star. (ECF No. 36.) Section 3-228(b) of
the Maryland Uniform Arbitration Act ("MUAA")
(a) Entering of judgment; enforcement of judgment.-
(1) If an order confirming, modifying, or correcting an award
is granted, a judgment shall be entered in conformity with
(2) The judgment may be enforced as any other judgment.
(b) Costs and disbursements.-A court may award costs of the
petition, the subsequent proceedings, and disbursements.
Blitz v. Beth Isaac Adas Israel Congregation, 352
Md. 31, 720 A.2d 912, 913 (Md. 1998), decision
clarified (Dec. 14, 1998), the Maryland Court of Appeals
held that "costs" includes attorney's fees
"incurred on confirming and enforcing the arbitration
award." Accordingly, a court may award costs and
attorney's fees of a petition to confirm, modify, or
correct an award. The Maryland Court of Appeals has confirmed
that the use of the word "may" in the statute means
that the court's power to award attorney's fees is
discretionary. WSC/2005 LLC v. Trio Ventures
Assocs., 460 Md. 244, 190 A.3d 255 (Md. 2018).
outset, this Court notes that the parties do not provide, and
this Court does not find, any authority supporting the
proposition that attorneys' fees should be awarded under
§ 3-228 (b) only against Star. Rather, the Petitioners
rely exclusively on the language of the statute and argue
that because the statute provides for the entry of a
judgment, and Judgment was only entered against Star, it
follows that costs-including attorneys' fees-can only be
awarded against Star. (ECF No. 46.) On the other hand, the
Respondents argue that Hopkins has been involved in the
litigation at all stages, and that by joining in the motion
to vacate and opposition to the motion to confirm, Hopkins is
liable for 'attorneys' fees. (ECF No. 40.)
Maryland Court of Appeals has stated that attorney's fees
are awarded under § 3-228(b) for fees "incurred in
confirming and enforcing" an arbitration award.
Blitz, 720 A.2d at 913. Accordingly, although
Judgment was entered against only Star, the Hopkins
Petitioners joined in the motion to vacate the Award and the
opposition to the motion to confirm the Award. Hopkins,
therefore, contributed to CMI incurring fees in
"confirming and enforcing" the arbitration Award,
and altering or ...