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Greene v. Brown

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 29, 2016

MARK GREENE, Plaintiff.
v.
WILLIAM

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, District Judge.

A year ago the Court entered a default judgment for Plaintiff Mark Greene in this matter, ordering that the Clerk enter judgment in the amount of $83, 606.60 in Plaintiff's favor, including $82, 500 in treble profits and $1, 106.60 in costs. At that time, the Court denied without prejudice Plaintiff's request for attorneys' fees because Plaintiff had not provided the documentation necessary for the Court to issue such an award. See Greene v. Brown, 104 F.Supp. 3d 12, 14 (D.D.C. 2015). Plaintiff now seeks attorneys' fees and has provided the documentation that was previously lacking. Before the Court is Plaintiff's [40] Motion for Reconsideration of Denial of Award for Attorneys' Fees. Upon consideration of the pleadings, [1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's [40] Motion for Reconsideration of Denial of Award for Attorneys' Fees. The Court will reconsider its previous denial of attorneys' fees and will award attorneys' fees in the amount of $32, 850.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court presented the background of this case at length in resolving Plaintiff's motion for default judgment last year. See Greene, 104 F.Supp. 3d at 14. There is no need to do so here again. The Court reserves additional presentation of the relevant background for the discussion of the issues below.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Plaintiff moves for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1), which provides that the Court may relieve a party from a final judgment or order for "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." The Rule "was intended to preserve the delicate balance between the sanctity of final judgments... and the incessant command of the court's conscience that justice be done in light of all the facts.'" Good Luck Nursing Home, Inc. v. Harris, 636 F.2d 572, 577 (D.C. Cir. 1980) (quoting Bankers Mortgage Co. v. United States, 423 F.2d 73, 77 (5th Cir. 1970)). As the D.C. Circuit has emphasized, Rule 60(b) "gives the district judge broad latitude to relieve a party from a judgment, " Richardson v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 49 F.3d 760, 765 (D.C. Cir. 1995), but "should be only sparingly used, " Good Luck Nursing Home, 636 F.2d at 577. The party seeking relief under Rule 60(b) bears the burden of showing that he or she is entitled to the relief. Norris v. Salazar, 277 F.R.D. 22, 25 (D.D.C. 2011). Common to all grounds for relief under Rule 60(b) are the requirements that the motion be timely, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1), and that the movant "demonstrate a meritorious claim or defense" to the motion upon which the district court previously dismissed the complaint, see Lepkowski v. U.S. Dep't of Treasury, 804 F.2d 1310, 1314 (D.C. Cir. 1986).

III. DISCUSSION

The Court first considers whether Plaintiff's motion warrants the reconsideration of the Court's final judgment. Upon concluding that reconsideration is warranted in the interest of justice, the Court evaluates the merits of Plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees. The Court grants that request in part and denies it in part.

A. Motion for Reconsideration

With respect to Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, there is no question that Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration was timely. Rule 60(c) requires that a motion under Rule 60(b)(1) be filed within one year of the entry of the order. Plaintiff filed the motion for reconsideration only six weeks after the Court issued its prior opinion and the order of default judgment in this case. In support of that motion, Plaintiff's attorneys prepared detailed documentation of his attorneys' fees, which had previously been lacking.[2]

Plaintiff argues that his counsel mistakenly failed to provide the factual basis for his request for attorneys' fees. Whether considered mistake or excusable neglect, the Court concludes that reconsideration is warranted in the interest of justice. The Court previously determined that Plaintiff was eligible for an award of an attorneys' fees. However, the Court denied the request because of inadequate documentation. Because Plaintiff has now provided adequate documentation to support the request, at least in part, the Court concludes that it is best now to consider the merits of the attorneys' fees request. The Court does so now.

B. Attorneys' Fees

The Lanham Act provides for the award of reasonable attorneys' fees to the prevailing party in a trademark infringement claim only "in exceptional cases, " 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a), and for claims of trademark counterfeiting, see id. § 1117(b). Because the Court concluded last year that Plaintiff prevailed on his claim for trademark counterfeiting as a result of Defendant's default, Plaintiff is eligible for attorneys' fees under section 1117(b). See Greene, 104 F.Supp. 3d at 21. Therefore, the Court need not determine whether this case represents exceptional circumstances that merit attorneys' fees under section 1117(a).

Last year, in reviewing Plaintiff's initial motion for an award of attorneys' fees, the Court concluded that Plaintiff was eligible for an award of attorneys' fees, but that Plaintiff had provided insufficient support for his request fees. See Nat'l Ass'n of Concerned Veterans v. Sec'y of Def., 675 F.2d 1319, 1327 (D.C. Cir. 1982) ("In the preparation of fee applications it is insufficient to provide the District Court with very broad summaries of work done and hours logged."). Plaintiff has now provided the documentation necessary to ...


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