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Tequila Centinela, S.A. v. Bacardi & Company Limited

March 4, 2008

TEQUILA CENTINELA, S.A. DE C.V., PLAINTIFF,
v.
BACARDI & COMPANY LIMITED, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiff's Motion [46] for Attorneys' Fees and Costs. Upon consideration of the motion, the opposition and reply thereto, the record herein, and the applicable law, the Court concludes that plaintiff is entitled to reasonable costs in the amount of $33,382.16.

I. BACKGROUND

The plaintiff, Tequila Centinela, S.A. de C.V., ("Centinela"), brought this action seeking review and reversal of the March 5, 2003, February 24, 2004, and October 19, 2004 Decisions and Orders of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) to the extent they were adverse to Centinela. (See Pl.'s Mot. Att'ys Fees 1.) A scheduling order and discovery plan was issued on March 7, 2005. On April 24, 2006, Centinela filed a motion to compel discovery requesting an order directing defendant Bacardi & Company Limited ("Bacardi") to: (1) execute the parties' Stipulated Protective Order; (2) serve a log of documents withheld due to claims of privilege or work product; (3) produce for deposition a knowledgeable Rule 30(b)(6) witness to testify as to matters known or reasonably available to Bacardi as listed in Centinela's Notice of Deposition; (4) respond in full to Centinela's Interrogatories Nos. 2--4; (5) serve a verification of Bacardi's answers to Centinela's interrogatories by an authorized representative; produce documents responsive to Centinela's Requests for Production of Documents and Things Nos. 4, 7, 8, 10, 12--28, and 36--38; and (7) respond properly and in full to Centinela's Requests for Admissions Nos. 28, 31--42, 61, and 62.

On March 29, 2007, this Court granted in part and denied in part Centinela's First Motion [14] to Compel Discovery. As a result, Bacardi had to provide the following discovery requests to Centinela by April 12, 2007: a log of documents withheld due to claims of confidentiality, privilege, or attorney work product; a knowledgeable representative or representatives under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) for deposition; full and complete responses to Centinela's Interrogatories Nos. 2 and 3 provided that such information is not privileged; documents responsive to certain of Centinela's document requests; and full and complete responses to certain of Centinela's requests for admissions. (See Order 1--2, March 29, 2007.)

On April 12, 2007, in response to the Court's Order, Bacardi provided its supplemental discovery responses. Dissatisfied with those responses, Centinela filed its Second Motion [35] to Compel Discovery on May 7, 2007. In that motion, Centinela sought an order directing Bacardi to: (1) produce all documents withheld on the grounds of confidentiality; (2) serve a list of documents produced corresponding to the categories of Centinela's document requests; (3) respond in full to Centinela's Interrogatories Nos. 2 and 3 (and produce the documents referred to in Bacardi's answers thereto). (See Pl.'s Mot. Att'ys Fees 3.) Centinela further requested that the Court impose sanctions upon Bacardi for failure to comply with the Court's March 29, 2007 Order. (See id.)

Bacardi filed its opposition to Centinela's Second Motion to Compel on May 21, 2007. Accompanying service of its opposition papers, Bacardi: (a) signed and returned the parties' Stipulated Protective Order; (b) produced its confidential documents; (c) served a list of documents produced corresponding to the categories of Centinela's documents requests; and (d) provided supplemental responses to Centinela's Interrogatories Nos. 2 and 3. (See id.)

This Court's Memorandum and Order dated June 28, 2007, granted in part and denied in part Centinela's Second Motion to Compel Discovery and for Sanctions. (See Memorandum and Order 10, June 28, 2007.) Since Bacardi had already signed and returned the parties' Stipulated Protective Order and produced its confidential documents, that part of Centinela's motion was denied as moot. (See id. at 11.) The Court also denied as moot Centinela's request to compel Bacardi to provide a list of all documents produced corresponding to Centinela's document requests. (See id.) The Court denied Centinela's request to compel Bacardi to respond in full to Interrogatory No. 3, finding that there had been no waiver of Bacardi's work product immunity as to that interrogatory. (See id. at 7--8.)

Centinela's request to compel was granted, however, as to Interrogatory No. 2. Finding that Bacardi failed to comply with the Court's March 29, 2007 Order, the Court directed Bacardi to provide a full and complete response to Interrogatory No. 2 within 10 days of the Court's Order. (See id. at 10--11.)

As for sanctions, this Court ruled that Bacardi had no substantial justification for its discovery failures and issued an order requiring Bacardi to pay Centinela for reasonable attorney's fees associated with filing the Second Motion [35] to Compel. (See id. at 11.) In the memorandum opinion supporting its order, this Court explained that, "Centinela is victorious in its motion [35] to compel Bacardi to respond fully to Centinela's Interrogatories No. 2. Furthermore, although the Court did not waive Bacardi's work product immunity concerning Interrogatory No. 3, sanctions are appropriate for Bacardi's failure to include all communication on its initial non-production log." (Id. at 8--9 (citation omitted).)

Centinela filed this Motion [46] for Attorneys' Fees and Costs on July 13, 2007, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 and this Court's June 28, 2007 Order. In its motion, Centinela seeks attorneys' fees in the amount of $56,593.80, and costs in the amount of $8,578.58 for hours spent on Centinela's Second Motion to Compel Discovery. (See Pl.'s Mot. Att'ys Fees 15.) Centinela further seeks attorneys' fees in the amount of $19,844.00, and costs in the amount $77.00 for hours spent on the instant motion for fees and costs. (See id. at 16.) Total fees and costs sought by Centinela amount to $85,093.38. (See id. at 18.) Centinela's motion was followed by an opposition filed August 1, 2007, and a reply thereto filed August 10, 2007. It is the motion for attorneys' fees and costs and the filings responsive to it that are presently before this Court.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

Under Rule 37, the district court has broad discretion to impose sanctions for discovery violations, and to determine what sanctions to impose. Kister v. District of Columbia, 229 F.R.D. 326, 329 (D.D.C. 2005) (citing Bonds v. District of Columbia, 93 F.3d 801, 807 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (citations omitted)) (internal quotation omitted). The proper method of awarding attorneys' fees for a violation of Rule 37 is the lodestar method, in which the court multiplies a reasonable hourly rate by a reasonable number of hours expended. Cobell v. Norton, 231 F. Supp. 2d 295, 300 (D.D.C. 2002) (Lamberth, J.) (citing Weisberg v. FBI, 749 F.2d 864, 872--73 (D.C. Cir. 1984) (determining a fee for a Rule 37 sanction by applying Nat'l Ass'n of Concerned Veterans v. Sec. of Defense, 675 F.2d 1319 (D.C. Cir. 1982), which advocated the use of the lodestar method)). The burden is on the moving party to prove that the request for attorneys' fees is reasonable. See Kister, 229 F.R.D. at 329 (citing Stein v. Foamex Int'l, Inc., 204 F.R.D. 270, 271 (E.D. Pa. 2001)). ...


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