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Williams v. The BluePrint, LLC

United States District Court, District Circuit

July 9, 2013

MADIEU WILLIAMS d/b/a, M. Williams Ventures, Judgment Creditor,
v.
THE BLUEPRINT, LLC, Judgment Debtor.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROSEMARY M. COLLYER United States District Judge

Madieu Williams d/b/a M. Williams Ventures, sued The BluePRINT, LLC, for a debt owed. After the Court entered default judgment against BluePRINT, Mr. Williams sought to ascertain what assets were held by BluePRINT. His efforts, however, were routinely ignored. In fact, BluePRINT did not take the matter seriously until the Court took repeated action against the company’s owner and sole principal. Now that the debt has been paid, Mr. Williams moves for postjudgment attorney fees, costs, and interest. The motion will be denied.

I. FACTS

The Court entered default judgment against BluePRINT on June 10, 2011, in the amount of $142, 961.00. See Order Granting Mot. for Default J. [Dkt. 18]. Mr. Williams thereafter served interrogatories on BluePRINT to determine its assets and, eventually, received incomplete, inaccurate, and unsworn, responses. See Mot. for Att’y Fees at 4 [Dkt. 35]. Mr. Williams filed a motion to compel proper answers, see Mot. to Compel [Dkt. 19], and the Court granted his motion on December 3, 2012. See Order Granting Mot. to Compel [Dkt. 20].

When no response from BluePRINT was forthcoming, Mr. Williams filed a motion for contempt and the Court issued a show-cause order. See Mot. for Att’y Fees at 4. The Court also required Rudolph Cline-Thomas, BluePRINT’s owner and sole principal, to appear at a show cause hearing before the Court on January 16, 2013. Although Mr. Williams’ lawyer appeared, no one appeared to represent BluePRINT, and Mr. Cline-Thomas did not show up. See Jan. 18, 2013 Order [Dkt. 22]. Concerned that Defendant may not have received its order, the Court issued a second order to show cause and set a contempt hearing set for March 15, 2013. Id. Once again, Mr. Williams’s counsel appeared but not Mr. Cline-Thomas or BluePRINT’s counsel. The Court issued a bench warrant, Mar. 20, 2013 Order [Dkt. 24], and later set a hearing for April 12, 2013.

Mr. Cline Thomas finally appeared, albeit without counsel, at the April 12 hearing. The Court found Mr. Cline-Thomas in contempt and instructed him to absolve himself of contempt by submitting full responses to the discovery requests issued by Mr. Williams. By all appearances contrite, he agreed. By Order thereafter, the Court required BluePRINT to provide full, complete and accurate responses. See Apr. 12, 2013 Order [Dkt. 25]. Disproving the proverbial “third time’s lucky, ” BluePRINT again did not comply. A second bench warrant for Mr. Cline-Thomas was issued, Apr. 23, 2013 Order [Dkt. 29], Mr. Cline-Thomas appeared on May 14, 2013, this time with counsel, and the Court found Mr. Cline-Thomas in contempt of court once more. This hearing, however, resulted in the issuance of a Court Order holding Mr. Cline-Thomas at the D.C. Jail until such time as BluePRINT responded fully and accurately to Mr. Williams’ interrogatories. Mot. for Att’y Fees at 5.

During a subsequent hearing on May 17, 2013, BluePRINT satisfied the judgment via a check written by BluePRINT’s counsel. The Court then released Mr. Cline-Thomas from custody. Notice of Satisfaction of J. [Dkt. 33].

Mr. Williams now seeks $25, 508.73 in attorney fees and costs as well as postjudgment interest totaling $498.38, arguing that BluePRINT can be required to pay these amounts under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 because BluePRINT and its counsel multiplied the proceedings unreasonably and vexatiously. Mot. for Att’y Fees at 6-8.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Under the “American Rule, ” attorney fees usually are not awarded to the successful party to a lawsuit in the absence of statutory authority. However, when litigation is unreasonably and vexatiously multiplied, fees and costs may be recovered from opposing counsel by the injured party. Section 1927 of Title 28 of the United States Code provides:

Any attorney or other person admitted to conduct cases in any court of the United States or any Territory thereof who so multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously may be required by the court to satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses, and attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct.

Accordingly, Mr. Williams contends that § 1927 warrants reimbursement for attorney costs and fees here due to BluePRINT’s “intransigence, if [not] outright defiance.” Mot. for Att’y Fees at 6. In support, he recites the ways in which BluePRINT prolonged the litigation by failing to respond to his interrogatories, ignoring the Court’s orders to compel and to show cause, providing incomplete and inaccurate responses, and using BluePRINT’s counsel to harass Mr. Williams while Mr. Cline-Thomas was held in the D.C. Jail. Id. at 6-7.

Mr. Williams also seeks $498.38 in postjudgment interest, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1961(a). He claims that this figure represents interest accrued from June 10, 2011, until the judgment was satisfied on May 17, 2013, during which time BluePRINT reduced the outstanding balance of the ...


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