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Ramada Franchise Systems, Inc. v. Shri Ohm Corp.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD DIVISION


June 5, 2006

RAMADA FRANCHISE SYSTEMS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHRI OHM CORPORATION, D/B/A SHREE OHM, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Ramada Franchise Inc.'s Motion for Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs (d/e 34) (Fee Request). Plaintiff brought this diversity action, alleging that Defendants failed to comply with their contractual obligations to Plaintiff under a License Agreement, an Assignment and Assumption Agreement, and two Guaranty Agreements. On May 31, 2005, this Court granted Plaintiff's request for default judgment against Defendants Rajen Jhala, Shri Ohm Corporation, d/b/a Shree Ohm, Inc. (Shri Ohm), and Jay Vidyalankar (Defaulted Defendants). By Order dated January 10, 2006, this Court granted summary judgment in Plaintiff's favor against Sharad Desai and Paul Femmer. Opinion, January 10, 2006 (d/e 32). In doing so, the Court determined that Plaintiff was entitled to an award of attorneys' fees and costs from Desai and Femmer.*fn1 Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff has now filed its Fee Request, setting forth the fees and costs it seeks to recover for prosecuting its claims against Desai and Femmer. Desai and Femmer have not responded. As set forth below, Plaintiff's Fee Request is allowed, in part.

Plaintiff seeks $27,537.50 in attorneys' fees from Desai and Femmer. This request is accompanied by the Affidavit of Paula J. Morency. Fee Request, Ex. A, Affidavit of Paula J. Morency (Morency Affidavit). Plaintiff has also submitted copies of the billing details from its counsel Schiff Hardin LLP for the fees sought. Morency Affidavit, Ex. A. The Court finds that the hourly rates charged are reasonable and that the matter was appropriately staffed. However, in reviewing the billing details submitted, it is apparent that some of the fees sought result from work unrelated to Defendants Desai and Femmer. Thus, as set forth below, the Court disallows a portion of the requested fees as unsupported.

Defendants Desai and Femmer both filed Answers on December 9, 2004. Answer by Defendant Paul Femmer (d/e 14); Answer by Defendant Sharad Desai (d/e 15). Plaintiff, however, seeks to recover fees from Desai and Femmer which arose after that time which are expressly tied to the preparation and filing of Plaintiff's Motion for Default and Motion for Default Judgment against Defendants Jhala, Shri Ohm, and Vidyalankar. These fees are not appropriately included in a fee award against Desai and Femmer, who had appeared in the case by that time. Specifically, the Court disallows Plaintiff's request for fees related to the Motion for Default and Motion for Default Judgment as follows:

12/13/04$115.00 12/13/04$23.00 12/30/04$180.00 12/30/04$138.00 1/4/05$81.00 1/5/05$270.00 1/5/05$27.00 1/6/05$39.50 1/10/05$39.50 1/11/05$197.50 1/11/05$79.00 1/11/05$945.00 1/12/05$27.00 1/12/05$27.00 1/17/05$81.00 1/19/05$540.00 1/19/05$135.00 1/25/05$39.50 2/1/05$39.50.

Thus, the Court disallows $3,023.50 in requested attorneys' fees. The Court finds that the remaining fees are supported by the evidence. Therefore, the Court awards Plaintiff $24,514.00 in attorneys' fees from Defendants Desai and Femmer. Of this amount, $2,868.50 is ordered payable jointly and severally with amounts previously ordered to be paid by Defendants Jhala, Vidyalankar and Shri Ohm. See Order, May 31, 2005, p. 10-11.

Turning to the issue of costs, the Court finds the amounts submitted by the Plaintiff to be reasonable and supported by the Morency Affidavit. Thus, the Court awards Plaintiff $1,394.22 in costs from Defendants Desai and Femmer. Of this amount, $863.08 is ordered to be paid jointly and severally with costs previously ordered to be paid by Defendants Jhala, Vidyalankar and Shri Ohm. See Order, May 31, 2005, p. 11.

THEREFORE, Plaintiff Ramada Franchise Inc.'s Motion for Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs (d/e 34) is ALLOWED, in part. The Clerk is directed to enter an amended judgment that includes an award of fees and costs as follows:

1. Vidyalankar and Jhala, jointly and severally, are ordered to pay $130,140.95 in recurring fees and interest and $83,691.00 in liquidated damages, plus interest. This amount is to be paid jointly and severally with amounts ordered paid by Defendants Desai and Femmer. Additionally, $62,242.01 of the recurring fees amount and the entire $83,691.00 in liquidated damages, plus interest, is ordered to be paid jointly and severally with Shri Ohm.

2. Vidylankar and Jhala, jointly and severally, are ordered to pay $6,755.08 in attorneys' fees, costs and expenses. This amount is to be paid jointly and severally with Shri Ohm. Additionally, $3,731.58 of this amount is ordered paid jointly and severally with Desai and Femmer.

3. Shri Ohm is ordered to pay $62,242.01 in recurring fees and interest and $83,691.00 in liquidated damages, plus interest, which is to be paid jointly and severally with Vidyalankar, Jhala, Desai, and Femmer.

4. Shri Ohm is ordered to pay $6,755.08 in attorneys' fees, costs and expenses, jointly and severally with Vidyalankar and Jhala. Of this amount, $3,731.58 is ordered to be paid jointly and severally with Desai and Femmer.

5. Defendants Desai and Femmer, jointly and severally, are ordered to pay $140,901.82 in past due recurring fees and interest and $128,884.14 in liquidated damages and interest. Of this amount, $62,242.01 of the recurring fees and interest is ordered to be paid jointly and severally with Shri Ohm, and $130,140.95 of the recurring fees and interest is ordered to be paid jointly and severally with Vidyalankar and Jhala. Additionally, $83,691.00 of the liquidated damages, plus interest, is ordered to be paid jointly and severally with Shri Ohm, Vidyalankar, and Jhala.

6. Defendants Desai and Femmer, jointly and severally, are ordered to pay $25,908.22 in attorneys' fees, costs and expenses. Of this amount, $3,731.58 is ordered payable jointly and severally with amounts ordered to be paid by Defendants Jhala, Vidyalankar and Shri Ohm.

IT IS THEREFORE SO ORDERED.

ENTER: June 1, 2006.

JEANNE E. SCOTT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE


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