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Fidlar Technologies v. Lps Real Estate Data Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division

September 8, 2016




         Before the Court is Defendant LPS Real Estate Data Solutions, Inc.'s (“LPS”) Supplemental Motion for Attorney Fees, ECF No. 115. The motion incorporates by reference an earlier LPS motion for fees, ECF No. 92. In addition, Plaintiff Fidlar Technologies (“Fidlar”), in its response to the initial motion for fees, ECF No. 107, contests certain portions of LPS's claimed costs as the prevailing party. See Bill of Costs, ECF No. 94. For the following reasons, LPS's motion for attorney's fees is DENIED; its bill of costs is ALLOWED in its entirety.


         The Court granted summary judgment for LPS on all of Fidlar's claims on March 5, 2015. ECF No. 89. No claims remaining, judgment entered on March 23, 2015. ECF No. 91. LPS's motion for fees followed on April 6, 2015, along with its bill of costs. On April 21, 2015, both parties requested that the Court refrain from ruling on the fees motions until the pending appeal was resolved. ECF No. 112. After it was, see Mandate of USCA, ECF No. 117, on February 4, 2016, LPS filed its supplemental motion for fees related to litigation of the appeal.


          I. Legal Standard on Motions for Costs and Attorney's Fees

         Ordinarily, costs other than attorney's fees are allowed to the prevailing party in a civil action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). These expenses will be allowed only if they are reasonable, both in amount and necessity to the litigation. Shah v. Vill. of Hoffman Estates, No. 00-C-4404, 2003 WL 21961362, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Aug.14, 2003). “The rule provides a presumption that the losing party will pay costs but grants the court discretion to direct otherwise.” Rivera v. City of Chicago, 469 F.3d 631, 634 (7th Cir. 2006). A clerk may tax undisputed costs without need for the prevailing party to file a motion with the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1).

         By contrast, “[a] claim for attorney's fees and related nontaxable expenses must be made by motion[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(2)(A). This motion must be filed no more than 14 days after the entry of judgment, and must state or estimate the amount sought, as well as specifying the statute, rule, or other grounds entitling the movant to a fee award. Id. R. 54(d)(2)(B). A motion is required because, while a prevailing party is presumptively entitled to costs, he is not normally entitled to attorney's fees under the “American Rule, ” the “bedrock principle [by which] . . . [e]ach litigant pays his own attorney's fees, win or lose, unless a statute or contract provides otherwise.” Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC, 135 S.Ct. 2158 (2015) (quoting Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., 560 U.S. 242, 252-253 (2010)).


         a. Costs

         Fidlar argues that LPS is not entitled to some of the deposition, copying, and subpoena fees it claims because those costs were incurred in pursuit of LPS's voluntarily dismissed counterclaims, Resp. Mot. Fees 17-18; and that as a matter of law, LPS is not entitled to the telephone call expenses and courier service fees it has included in the bill of costs, id. at 20. LPS responds that the deposition, subpoena, and copy fees Fidlar contests arose from depositions used by Fidlar in its case in chief against LPS, Rep. Mot. Fees 8-9, and that all of the costs to which Fidlar objects categorically are in fact taxable, id. at 9-10.

         1. Costs Associated with Counterclaims

         Fidlar argues that the numerous depositions of county recorders in this case were only taken to defend against LPS's counterclaims for tortious interference, upon which LPS did not prevail because it dismissed them. Resp. Mot. Fees 17. See Stip. Dismissal, ECF No. 67 (stipulating to the dismissal of Counts I-III of LPS's counterclaim). LPS's counterclaim accused Fidlar of inducing 81 counties to terminate contracts with LPS, see Am. Counterclaim 13-17, ECF No. 19, and so Fidlar argues that in order to defend against the claim, and for that purpose only, it was required to depose the recorders of these counties, at substantial expense to both parties. Resp. Mot. Fees 17. Essentially, Fidlar is claiming that the costs associated with the deposition of each county recorder was a consequence only of claims that are wholly distinct from the suit it lost against LPS.

         However, as LPS observes, Fidlar argued consistently during the litigation that a key fact for its own claims was whether and to what extent LPS had been authorized by the various counties to use “web harvesting” technology on their databases. See Fidlar's Resp. Mot. Quash 6, ECF No. 54 (“To prove its case in chief, Fidlar must provide evidence regarding what, if any, authorization LPS received from the counties for use of its web-harvester.”). Most tellingly, Fidlar relied upon, and the Court reviewed, extensive deposition testimony from various county recorders in defending its claims at summary judgment. See, e.g., Fidlar Resp. Mot. Summ. J. 68-74, ECF No. 82. Fidlar's argument at summary judgment was that LPS had violated the terms of its agreements with each of these county recorders, and had thus accessed its “Laredo system” in an unauthorized manner. Id. at 71-72. In support, Fidlar relied heavily on deposition testimony from the recorders about how the counties had understood the contracts they made with LPS. Id. Fidlar cannot now assert that this testimony, and the costs associated with its collection, were not integral to claims upon which LPS is admittedly the prevailing party.

         These being Fidlar's only objections to LPS's transcript, copying, and subpoena-related fees, those fees are allowed in whole.

         2. Costs for Faxes, Couriers, ...

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