United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
SABRE INDUSTRIES, INC.
MODULE X SOLUTIONS, LLC, ET AL.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY
MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDG UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is a Motion for Attorneys' Fees (Record
Document 257) filed by Plaintiff and
Defendant-in-Counterclaim, Sabre Industries, Inc.
(“Sabre”). Defendant and
Plaintiff-in-Counterclaim, Module X Solutions, L.L.C.
(“MXS”) opposed the motion. See Record
Documents 269, 277. For the reasons set forth below,
Sabre's motion is GRANTED.
an approximate three week jury trial, the jury found that MXS
breached the Joint Venture Agreement (“the JV
Agreement”); Sabre did not breach the JV Agreement; and
Sabre suffered damages in the amount of $423, 708 as a result
of MXS's breach. See Record Document 246 at 1,
2, 3, 5. A Judgment consistent with the terms of the
jury's verdict was entered on February 27, 2018.
See Record Document 249. In the Judgment, the Court
stated that the parties' claims for attorneys' fees
were reserved for post-trial consideration. See id.
Sabre now moves for an order from this Court awarding it
reasonable attorneys' fees in the amount of $1, 101, 145
pursuant to the remedies provision of the JV Agreement.
See Record Document 257.
parties do not contest that Louisiana substantive law governs
this case. “As a general rule, attorney's fees are
not allowed [under Louisiana law] except where authorized by
statute or contract.” Maloney v. Oak Builders,
Inc., 235 So.2d 386, 390 (1970). In a breach of contract
case, attorney's fees are not recoverable “unless
there is a specific provision therefor in the
contract.” Id. In this matter, Paragraph Five
of the JV Agreement set forth remedies, to include that the
breaching party was entitled to “all rights and
remedies provided at law and in equity, plus reasonable
attorneys fees to enforce the non-breaching party's
rights and remedies.” Sabre's Trial Exhibit 38 at
¶ 5. This provision is enforceable under Louisiana law.
to MXS's assertion in its opposition brief (Record
Document 269 at 6-7), the jury clearly found that Sabre was
the non-breaching party and MXS was the breaching party of
the JV Agreement. Sabre is contractually entitled under the
remedies provision of the JV Agreement to recover its
attorneys' fees for the time its attorneys spent
“enforc[ing] [its] rights and remedies.” Thus,
this Court must now determine if the fees requested by Sabre
identified three categories of time spent by its attorneys in
this litigation. See Record Document 257-1 at 12-16.
The first category is attorney time solely related to
Sabre's breach of contract claim (134.3 hours). See
id. at 12, 14. The second category is attorney time
related to the common core of facts and/or claims or issues
interwoven with Sabre's breach of contract claim (4,
584.3 hours). See id. The third category is
post-trial attorney time related to the motion for
attorneys' fees (174.7 hours). See id. at 13-15.
The first and third categories are self-explanatory. The
second category bears further discussion.
time spent on unsuccessful issues is difficult to segregate,
no reduction of fees is required.” Abell v. Potomac
Ins. Co. of Illinois, 946 F.2d 1160, 1169 (5th Cir.
1991). Courts within the Fifth Circuit have noted that
“some cases . . . require that attorneys perform work
on numerous claims, issues or even proceedings, not all of
which might independently or standing alone give rise to a
basis for an award of attorney's fees.” Cashman
Equip. Corp. v. Smith Marine Towing Corp., No. CV
12-945, 2013 WL 12229038, at *7 (E.D. La. June 27, 2013),
report and recommendation adopted, No. CV 12-945, 2013 WL
12228976 (E.D. La. July 12, 2013); see also NOP, LLC v.
Kansas, No. CIV.A. 10-1423, 2011 WL 1485287, at *5 23,
2011), report and recommendation adopted, No. CIV.A. 10-1423,
2011 WL 1558687 (E.D. La. Apr. 18, 2011). In those cases,
courts “need not segregate fees when the facts and
issues are so closely interwoven that they cannot be
separated.” Id. T o d e c i d e whether claims
are so interrelated and/or interwoven that they cannot be
separated, courts must ask whether the claims include a
common core of facts or were based on related legal theories
linking them to the successful claim. See id.
“If the answer to this inquiry is ‘yes,' then
the prevailing party may recover for the fees reasonably
incurred in pursuing or defending against the intertwined
maintains that its request for $1, 101, 145 in attorneys'
fees is reasonable under Rule 1.5(a) of the Louisiana Rules
of Professional Conduct. The factors - derived from Rule
1.5(a) - to be taken into consideration in determining the
reasonableness of attorney's fees include:
(1) the ultimate result obtained; (2) the responsibility
incurred; (3) the importance of the litigation; (4) the
amount of money involved; (5) the extent and character of the
work performed; (6) the legal knowledge, attainment and skill
of the attorneys; (7) the number of appearances involved; (8)
the intricacies of the facts involved; (9) the diligence and
skill of counsel; and (10) the court's own knowledge.
NOP, LLC, 2011 WL 1485287, at *2. The award
“must be reasonable based on the degree of skill and
work involved in the case, the number of court appearances,
the depositions, the office work and the time spent in
court.” Id. Here, Sabre discussed each of the
ten factors in great detail. The Court concurs with
Sabre's analysis as to these factors, noting the
following specifically: the jury found MXS breached the JV
Agreement and Sabre did not; Sabre's attorneys reviewed
hundreds of thousands of potentially relevant documents;
approximately thirty depositions were taken; exhaustive
pretrial motion practice; the extensive experience of the
Sabre attorneys in handling complex litigation; the number of
in-person and telephone conferences; a three week jury trial;
and the difficulty counsel faced in explaining intricate
facts to the jury. Additionally, this Court's own
knowledge of this case supports Sabre's requested fee
application of the lodestar calculation method likewise
supports Sabre's request for $1, 101, 145 in
attorneys' fees as a reasonable amount. “A lodestar
is calculated by multiplying the number of hours reasonably
expended by an appropriate hourly rate in the community for
such work.” Heidtman v. Cty. of El Paso, 171
F.3d 1038, 1043 (5th Cir. 1999). “After making this
calculation, the district court may decrease or enhance the
lodestar based on the relative weights of the twelve factors
set forth in Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express,
Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir.1974).”
Id. Th e J ohnson factors are: “(1)
the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and difficulty
of the issues; (3) the skill required to perform the legal
services properly; (4) the preclusion of other employment by
the attorney; (5) the customary fee; (6) whether the fee is
fixed or contingent; (7) the time limitations imposed by the
client or circumstances; (8) the amount involved and results
obtained; (9) the experience, reputation, and ability of the
attorneys; (10) the undesirability of the case; (11) the
nature and length of the professional relationship with the
client; and (12) the award in similar cases.”
Johnson, 488 F.2d at 717-19. Like its analysis of
the Rule 1.5(a) factors,  the Court finds that none of the
Johnson factors warrant an increase or decrease in
the award sought by Sabre. See NOP, LLC, 2011 WL
1485287, at *3.
does not object to the hourly rates proposed by Sabre for
calculating its attorneys' fees. See Record
Document 269 at 11. However, it does challenge (1) the number
of attorney hours Sabre seeks to base its fee calculation on;
and (2) the total dollar amount for which Sabre seeks to be
compensated. See id. at 11. MXS argues that
Sabre's “claim of the number of total hours
required to litigate the case is completely out of line with
any standard of reasonableness.” Id. at 11.
MXS compares the number of hours its attorneys spent on the
case - 1878 hours - to the number of hours Sabre's
attorneys spent on the case - 4893.3 hours - and argues such
comparison evidences the unreasonableness of Sabre's
requested fees. See Record Document 269 at 12;
see also Record Document 277 at 2.
noted by Sabre, MXS requested $27 million from the jury,
while Sabre calculated its damages to be approximately $7
million. See Record Document 275 at 8. In its
closing argument, Sabre asked the jury for an award in the
amount of $1, 005, 224. See id. Thus, Sabre faced a
great risk of an adverse judgment. See id. Morever,
Sabre has submitted four affidavits and voluminous pages of
unredacted, contemporaneously-recorded billing entries. This
Court has reviewed these itemized billing records and finds
that the number of hours expended was reasonable given the
intricate facts and complex legal issues presented in this
case. MXS has not presented the testimony of an
expert to challenge the ...