United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division
DARROW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs by
Plaintiff DirecTV, LLC (“DirecTV”), ECF No. 44,
as well as a Motion to Strike Response to Motion, ECF No. 61,
against Defendants Wild Berries Group, LLC (“Wild
Berries”), and Stephanie Karonis. For the following
reasons, the motions are GRANTED.
alleged in its Complaint, ECF No. 1, filed on June 26, 2014,
that Wild Berries Restaurant used DirecTV's residential
satellite TV services without authorization from DirecTV and
in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605(a). Compl. 4-5. After
Defendants failed to respond to the summons and complaint,
the Court entered a default against Wild Berries and Karonis
on November 13, 2014. Entry of Default, ECF No. 15. DirecTV
moved for default judgment on November 28, 2014, ECF No. 16,
and the Court granted the motion in part on July 8, 2015. ECF
No. 18. DirecTV sought statutory damages as well as costs and
attorney's fees. Pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3),
the Court awarded $1, 000 in statutory damages and $3, 877.57
in attorney's fees and costs against Wild Berries, after
finding that Karonis was not liable for a statutory
violation. Id. at 7-10.
course of attempts to collect on the judgment, DirecTV issued
citations to discover assets to Wild Berries, Wild Berry
Three, Inc., and Stephanie Karonis. See Citations to
Discover Assets, ECF Nos. 24, 28. Neither Karonis nor any
representative of Wild Berries appeared at the Court's
hearing on the matter, Feb. 18, 2016 Minute Entry, and after
the parties to whom citations were directed failed to produce
any responsive documents, DirecTV moved to compel compliance
with the citation proceedings. See Mot. Compel, ECF
No. 41. In the Motion to Compel, DirecTV recounted
communications it had with Stephanie and Denise Karonis and
Christina Preston regarding the requests for information in
the citations, and expressed its belief that the Karonises,
Preston, and/or Wild Berries, LLC had operated a restaurant
named “Wild Berries Restaurant” in Normal, IL.
Mot. Compel 2-3. The Magistrate Judge ordered Stephanie
Karonis, Denise Karonis, and Christina Preston, as corporate
representatives of Wild Berries, to comply with the citation
and to produce responsive documents, ECF No. 43, which they
did not do. DirecTV then moved to recover attorney's fees
incurred by counsel in the course of the citation
proceedings. Petition Att'y Fees, ECF No. 44.
Magistrate Judge's direction, DirecTV provided itemized
documentation of the fees and costs incurred, claiming an
additional $8, 925 in attorney's fees. Id. at 5.
Additionally, the motion listed $161.74 in total costs for
service of subpoenas and citations. Id. The
Magistrate Judge initially granted the motion, but later
correctly determined that he lacked jurisdiction to do so,
and vacated the order, granting the Defendants' motion to
reconsider. Oct. 11, 2016 Minute Entry. He then referred the
motion to this Court for disposition. The Petition for
Attorney's Fees is now before the Court.
Rule of Civil Procedure 69 directs courts to conduct the
execution of a money judgment, as well as proceedings
supplementary to the execution of that judgment, in
accordance with state law, though “a federal statute
governs to the extent it applies.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
69(a)(1). The statute providing DirecTV's original cause
of action, 47 U.S.C. § 605(e), states that the Court
“shall direct the recovery of full costs, including
reasonable attorneys' fees to an aggrieved party who
prevails.” 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii); however,
it does not address the proper procedure for enforcing a
judgment awarded under the statute. Therefore, the
application of Illinois state law appropriately governs
DirecTV's attempts to satisfy the judgment. Star Ins.
Co. v. Risk Mktg. Grp. Inc., 561 F.3d 656, 661-62 (7th
Illinois, a collection proceeding, commenced by service of a
citation on the party against whom it is brought, may be
instigated “against the judgment debtor or any third
party the judgment creditor believes has property of or is
indebted to the judgment debtor.” Ill. Sup. Ct. R.
277(a). One such proceeding is a citation to discover assets,
a tool by which a judgment creditor may
“‘discover assets or income of the debtor not
exempt from the enforcement of the judgment' and . . .
‘compel [ ] the application of non-exempt assets or
income discovered toward the payment of the amount due under
the judgment.'” Shales v. T. Manning Concrete,
Inc., 847 F.Supp.2d 1102, 1111 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (citing
735 ILCS 5/2-1402(a)).
citation may require that parties produce documents, books,
or records concerning the property of the debtor, Ill. Sup.
Ct. R. 277(c), which the magistrate judge ordered here.
See Order on Mot. Compel, ECF No. 43. Failure to
comply with an order of the court in a supplementary
proceeding provides the basis for punishment by the Court.
Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 277(h). Defendant Stephanie Karonis, and
third parties Denise Karonis and Christina Preston,
repeatedly failed to respond to the citations to discover
assets on behalf of Wild Berries, despite the Court's
order. Due to the Defendants' and the third parties'
failure to follow Court orders, failure to appear at
scheduled hearings, and because their non-responsiveness has
prolonged, needlessly, this litigation, the Court will award
attorney's fees to DirecTV for the efforts it has
expended to collect the judgment. See Star Ins. Co.,
561 F.3d at 663 (acknowledging the broad discretion of the
district court to fashion a punishment when a third party
violated a court order in a supplementary proceeding to
fees are calculated using a “lodestar” method
that allows a Court to award “the number of hours
reasonably expended on the litigation, multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate.” Spegon v. Catholic Bishop
of Chicago, 175 F.3d 544, 554 (7th Cir. 1999). In a
petition to seek attorney's fees, the fee applicant must
produce “satisfactory evidence” that his rates
are reasonably derived from the market rates for similar work
done by attorneys in the community. Pickett v. Sheridan
Health Care Ctr., 664 F.3d 632, 647 (7th Cir. 2011). If
the fee applicant fails to present such evidence, “the
district court has the authority to make its own
determination of a reasonable rate.” Id. at
Petition for Attorney's Fees and Costs, DirecTV itemized
29.75 hours of time spent pursuing post-judgment
enforcement. Petition Att'y Fees 5. The accrued
hours include the time spent preparing the Citations to
Discover Assets and litigating the Motion to Compel, stemming
from the failure of the judgment debtor and the third-party
representatives to respond to the Court's directives or
otherwise resolve the dispute. DirecTV asserted that
attorneys' labor on these fairly straightforward jobs
should be compensated at $300 an hour. Id. at 3. The
total attorney's fees calculated by DirecTV for
post-judgment enforcement proceedings is $8, 925.
has provided no fee-related evidence other than the
conclusory statement that it is “familiar with the
reasonable rates” of attorneys doing similar work in
the geographic area, Petition Att'y Fees 3, and that the
associate billing rate for such work is $300 per hour.
See Pickett, 664 F.3d at 647 (noting that
appropriately persuasive evidence in an attorney's fees
determination includes records of prior fee awards or
“third party affidavits that attest to the billing
rates of comparable attorneys”). In its previous order
awarding attorney's fees in this case, the Court
carefully analyzed fee awards in the Central District of
Illinois to settle on appropriate rates for cases of similar
complexity, determining that it would award $300 for partner
work, $200 for associate work, and $75 for paralegal work.
See Jul. 8, 2015 Order 9-10. The Court sees no
reason to depart from the previous finding that the
appropriate billing rate for associate work on a case of this
level of complexity is $200.00. Using the lodestar method,
the Court awards attorney's fees totaling $5, 950 plus
$161.74 in costs. Defendant Wild Berries Group, LLC, and its
corporate representatives Stephanie Karonis, Christina
Preston, and Denise Karonis, are jointly and severally
responsible for compensating DirecTV for fees and costs
totaling $6, 111.74.
DirecTV moves to strike the response filed by the Third Party
Citation Respondents, ECF No. 61. Local Rule 7.1(B)(2) states
that “[a]ny parties opposing a motion” must file
a response within fourteen days after service of the motion,
and in the case of untimely response, the Court “may
rule without further notice to the parties.” CDIL-LR
7.1(B)(2). The Third Party Citation Respondents filed their
response months after DirecTV filed its motion for
attorney's fees and after responses were due, and
provided no ...