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Genesis Marine, LLC of Delaware v. Hornbeck Offshore Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 22, 2019

GENESIS MARINE, LLC OF DELAWARE
v.
HORNBECK OFFSHORE SERVICES, LLC

         SECTION: “B” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

         Before the Court are Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant Genesis Marine, LLC of Delaware's (“Genesis”) Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs (Rec. Doc. 72), Defendant/Counter-Claimant Horneck Offshore Services, LLC's (“Hornbeck”) Response Memorandum (Rec. Doc. 73), and Genesis' Supplemental Memorandum (Rec. Doc. 104). The Court also takes into consideration Hornbeck's Memorandum in Response to the Court's August 3, 2018 Order (Rec. Doc. 71) and Genesis' Response to Hornbeck's Memorandum (Rec. Doc. 74). For the reasons below, IT IS ORDERED that the motion for attorneys' fees and costs is DENIED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Genesis is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in Texas. See Rec. Doc. 1 at 1. Hornbeck is a foreign limited liability company with its principal place of business in Covington, Louisiana. See id.

         Over several years, Genesis chartered its vessels to Hornbeck at an agreed upon price according to written agreements.[1] See id. In accordance with the written agreements, Genesis issued several invoices to Hornbeck. See id. at 2. Hornbeck was obligated to remit to Genesis all payments made to Hornbeck by customers within ten days. Genesis alleged that Hornbeck breached its obligation by wrongfully withholding and converting funds remitted to Hornbeck by customers and tendered to Genesis only $121, 311.73 as full payment of all amounts due and owing to Genesis. See id.

         Genesis brought an action against Hornbeck, claiming breach of contract, conversion, unjust enrichment, detrimental reliance, all sums due to it by Hornbeck with interest, and attorneys' fees and costs. See Rec. Doc. 1. Hornbeck, citing to an asset purchase agreement between the two businesses for tug and tank barges, brought several counterclaims. See Rec. Doc. 8 at 7-14. Specifcally, Hornbeck alleged suit on open account, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and quantum merit. See id. at 14-17.

         On June 18, 2018, trial began.[2] After Hornbeck rested its case, the parties were ordered to submit post-trial memoranda and joint stipulations. See Rec. Doc. 56. The parties were also informed that closing arguments would take place on July 25, 2018. See id. On August 3, 2018, after considering trial evidence, parties' memoranda, and the law, this Court ordered “that there be a judgment in favor of [Genesis] and against [Hornbeck] in the [stipulated] amount of [$722, 356.35], plus interest at [the] federal rate and reasonable [attorneys'] fees.” See Rec. Doc. 70 at 2. The Court also ordered “that [Hornbeck's] counterclaims [be] dismissed with prejudice, except for stipulated services. [Genesis'] awarded sum [was] to be reduced by stipulated amount of [$117, 284.54].” See id.

         Furthermore, as to attorneys' fees, the Court ordered that the parties submit briefing on the following issues:

1. To what extent Hornbeck is entitled to fees for successful result in seeking payment for shore services, lube and oil, etc. Including to the extent they might have waived such claim; and
2. Amount of fees being sought, including the rate and hours for legal services.

         The parties were to brief only for fees on successful claims and entitlement thereto. See id. at 3. Parties submitted said briefings. See Rec. Doc. Nos. 71, 74. On August 10, 2018, Genesis filed a motion for attorneys' fee and costs. See Rec. Doc. 72. On August 17, 2018, Hornbeck responded in opposition. See Rec. Doc. Nos. 73.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         In this Country, the prevailing party of a cause of action is usually not entitled to recover attorneys' fees and costs from the non-prevailing party. See Galveston County Navigation Dist. No. 1 v. Hopson Towing Co., 92 F.3d 353, 356 (5th Cir. 1996). This general rule is known as the “American Rule” and applies in both maritime and admiralty causes of action. See id. Pursuant to the American Rule, parties must pay their own attorneys' fees and costs unless an applicable statute or enforceable contract exists. See id.

         Some contracts contain what is commonly referred to as a prevailing party provision. “Prevailing party provisions generally state that when a dispute over the contract arises the party who loses in litigation must pay the legal fees of the party who prevails in litigation.” See Malin Int'l Ship Repair & Drydock, Inc. v. M/V Seim Swordfish, 611 F.Supp.2d 627, 636 (E.D. La. 2009). Such provisions have the effect of law between the parties of the contract. See Vega v. Autumnwood Homes, Inc., 2017 LEXIS 184180 *1, *6 (E.D. La. 2017). Courts are to interpret and ...


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