MARSHA A. WILLIS
EAN HOLDINGS DBA/ENTERPRISE RENT A CAR, ELCO INSURANCE GROUP, INC, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, AND TROY DAVID THIBODAUX
Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No.
614, 425 Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Judge Presiding
A. Willis Plaintiff-Appellee, In Proper Person
A. Salley A. Jacob Culotta, Jr. Attorneys for
Defendant-Appellee, EAN Holdings, LLC
W. Darling Attorney for Defendant-Appellant, Empire Fire
& Marine Insurance Co.
Powe Green Attorney for Defendant-Appellee, Rental Insurance
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, THERIOT, AND CHUTZ, JJ.
Fire and Marine Insurance Company (Empire) appeals the
judgment of the trial court ordering Marsha Willis to pay
attorney fees, costs, and sanctions to Empire contending that
the award was abusively low. Ms. Willis answered the appeal
asserting that the trial court abused its discretion in
awarding attorney fees to Empire.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
forth in the related appeal, Willis v. EAN Holdings d/b/a
Enterprise Rent A Car, 2015-1538 (La.App. 1st Cir.
--/--/-), ___So.3d___, Ms. Willis, an attorney representing
herself, filed a petition against Empire asserting several
causes of action including state law claims of fraud and
breach of contract, and federal law claims under the
Fourteenth Amendment, as well as civil rights violations
under 42 U.S.C.A. §1985, and equal rights violations
under 42 U.S.C.A. §1981.
April 7, 2015, Empire filed a motion for summary judgment
contending that no genuine issues of material fact exist
regarding any of the causes of action Ms. Willis set forth in
her petition. Empire's motion for summary judgment was
heard by the trial court on June 1, 2015, after which the
trial court concluded that Ms. Willis "has no evidence
to support any issues of material fact against [Empire]"
and "has shown no basis for recovery against
[Empire]." On June 16, 2015, a judgment was signed
granting Empire's motion for summary judgment and
dismissing Ms. Willis' claims against Empire with
prejudice. Ms. Willis appealed the trial court's
judgment, and in the related appeal also handed down this
day, we affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
See Willis, ___So.3d at___.
the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of
Empire, Empire filed a motion for costs, attorney fees, and
sanctions as the "prevailing party" under 42
U.S.C.A. §§1981 and 1985 and under La. Code Civ. P.
art. 863(D). Empire's motion was heard by the trial court
on September 28, 2015. On October 14, 2015, judgment was
signed granting Empire's motion, awarding Empire $801.01
for the court costs Empire incurred as of the date of its
motion, and $175.00 for the court costs Empire incurred in
bringing its motion. Additionally, the judgment awarded
attorney fees in the amount of $1, 000.00 pursuant to 42
U.S.C.A. § 1988(b) and La. Code Civ. P. art. 863(D). It
is from this judgment that Empire appeals contending that the
trial court abused its discretion in awarding only $1, 000.00
in attorney fees. Ms. Willis answered the appeal asserting
that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding
attorney fees to Empire.
42, § 1988(b) of the United States Code allows the trial
court, in its discretion, to award a prevailing party
reasonable attorney fees and provides in pertinent part:
"In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of
sections 1981 ... [and] 1985 ... of this title ... the court,
in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than
the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee as part of
the costs." In this matter, Empire was the prevailing
party in Ms. Willis' ...