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Trahan v. Equifax Information Services, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

October 31, 2018

KELLEE TRAHAN
v.
EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, ET AL

          UNASSIGNED DISTRICT JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          KATHLEEN KAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is a Motion for Attorney's Fees and a Motion to Strike, Motion to Enforce Order, and/or Motion to Dismiss, both filed by defendant Lake Area Collections, LLC (“LAC”). Docs. 37, 45. Plaintiff Kellee Trahan opposes both. Docs. 43, 49.

         For the following reasons the Motion for Attorney's Fees is GRANTED and the Motion to Strike and for other relief is DENIED.

         I.

         Procedural Background

         This suit began as a complaint by plaintiff against LAC and others (now dismissed) for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1631, et seq. On May 31, 2018, LAC filed a Motion to Compel seeking responses to discovery it had propounded March 13, 2018. Doc. 32. LAC alleged that, despite its good-faith efforts to obtain satisfactory responses to its discovery, plaintiff failed to comply. Doc. 32, Att. 1, pp. 1-3. We issued a Notice of Motion Setting that allowed plaintiff twenty-one days, or until June 21, 2018, to file any objection or response to the motion. Doc. 33. Plaintiff failed to file any response or objection to LAC's motion and on July 10, 2018, we issued an order granting LAC's motion and ordering plaintiff to supplement her responses to LAC's discovery within fifteen days of the date of the order. Doc. 36. It is for this failure to comply that LAC seeks attorney fees. Doc. 37.

         Thereafter and on August 21, 2018, LAC filed the second motion under our consideration asking us to strike a portion of plaintiff's response to its request for attorney fees, to dismiss al lclaims against LAC by plaintiff for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with orders and local rules, and to enforce our previous order that plaintiff respond to discovery sought. Doc. 45.

         II.

         Law and Analysis

         A. Motion for Attorney Fees [Doc. 37]

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(5)(A) provides that, when a motion to compel discovery is granted, the court must require the party whose conduct necessitated the motion pay the movant's expenses and fees. The court should not award expenses and fees if the nondisclosure was “substantially justified” or if “other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(A)(ii)(iii). LAC claims that, as a prevailing party on the motion to compel, it is entitled to reasonable attorney's fees and expenses under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37.

         Plaintiff primarily argues that she failed to respond to LAC's motion because she had no attorney actively representing her at the time; however, the record of this proceeding does not support her contention. The record shows that plaintiff has been represented at all times, although clearly there was activity between various counsel not pertinent to our consideration here. Whatever difficulties may have existed between her various counsel provides no justification for her failure to respond to properly propounded discovery. We therefore find that the failure to respond to discovery was not “substantially justified” and grant the motion for attorney's fees and expenses.

         In support of its claim for fees LAC attaches affidavits and billing records. Doc. 37, Atts. 1-2. According to the affidavit of LAC's attorney William V. Westbrook, III he billed 16.60 hours at a rate of $165 per hour in his attempt to secure supplemental responses to LAC's discovery.[1]Doc. 37, Att. 1, pp. 1-7. Plaintiff does not contest the hourly ...


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