ORDER: 1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT IN PART AND DENY IN PART DEFENDANT HAWAII AVIATION CONTRACT SERVICES, INC.’S MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEY’S FEES AND REJECTING THE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION; AND 2) DENYING PLAINTIFF’S OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT IN PART AND DENY IN PART DEFENDANT JAPAN AIRLINES’ MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES AND ADOPTING THE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
Leslie E. Kobayashi, United States District Judge
On January 21, 2014, the magistrate judge filed the Findings and Recommendation to Grant in Part and Deny in Part Defendant Hawaii Aviation Contract Services, Inc.’s Motion for Award of Attorney’s Fees (“HACS F&R”) and the Findings and Recommendation to Grant in Part and Deny in Part Defendant Japan Airlines’ Motion for Attorney’s Fees (“JAL F&R”). [Dkt. nos. 531, 532.] Before the Court are Plaintiff Jack Crawford’s (“Crawford”) objections to the HACS F&R (“HACS Objections”), filed on February 4, 2014, and Crawford’s objections to the JAL F&R (“JAL Objections”), filed on February 5, 2014. [Dkt. Nos. 533, 534.] HACS and JAL (collectively “Defendants’) each filed its response on February 18, 2014. [Dkt. nos. 536, 535.] The Court finds these matters suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule LR7.2(e) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i (“Local Rules”). After careful consideration of the objections, responses, and the relevant legal authority, this Court HEREBY GRANTS the HACS Objections and REJECTS the HACS F&R, and HEREBY DENIES the JAL Objections and ADOPTS the JAL F&R, for the reasons set forth below.
In December 2002, Crawford and then-co-plaintiff Martin Ventress (“Ventress”) filed their Complaint for Damages (“Complaint”) against JAL, its subsidiary, JALways, Co., Ltd. (“JALways”),  and HACS in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. [Dkt. no. 23.] The Complaint alleged diversity jurisdiction. [Id. At ¶ 8.] According to the Complaint, at the time of filing, Crawford, who was a pilot for JAL and HACS, was a United States citizen domiciled in California. [Id. at ¶¶ 5, 11.] Crawford later repudiated that assertion and claimed that his domicile at the time he filed the Complaint was Alabama. [Pltf.’s Decl. of Domicile, filed 8/7/13 (dkt. no. 500), at ¶ 1.]
On September 13, 2013, JAL filed its Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Jack Crawford’s Complaint for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction (“Motion to Dismiss”). [Dkt. no. 510.] JAL argued that there was no diversity of citizenship in this case because, at the time Crawford filed the Complaint, he was an expatriate residing in Thailand, and therefore he was “stateless” for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. On December 31, 2013, this Court issued an order granting the Motion to Dismiss (“Dismissal Order”). [Dkt. no. 528.] Although this Court found that it was not necessary to determine exactly where Crawford was domiciled at the time he filed the Complaint, this Court found that Crawford failed to identify a genuine issue of material fact as to the issue of whether Alabama was his domicile. This Court therefore concluded that there was no federal diversity jurisdiction over this case from the outset.
On January 18, 2013, well before this Court ruled that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over Crawford’s case, Crawford filed his “Motion for Sanctions Against JAL Defendants, HACS, Carlsmith Ball, Certain Carlsmith Ball Attorneys, and Carl Osaki” (“Sanctions Motion”). [Dkt. no. 405] Crawford asked this Court to “impose appropriately severe sanctions under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C. § 1927 and the Court’s inherent authority to sanction bad faith litigation, and also refer the responsible attorneys to the Hawai`i State Bar and the Bar of this Court for appropriate disciplinary action.” [Mem. in Supp. of Sanctions Motion at 4.] This Court denied the Sanctions Motion in a May 31, 2013 order (“Sanctions Order”). [Dkt. no. 453. This Court found that, to the extent that the Sanctions Motion was based on Crawford’s qualification to fly, that issue had not been fully litigated, and Crawford’s argument that Defendants’ position was frivolous was premature. This Court also found that his “request for Rule 11 sanctions [was] both procedurally defective and substantively specious” and denied the request. Sanctions Order, 2013 WL 2420715, at *7. Further, this Court concluded that Crawford failed to meet “the more stringent subjective bad faith standard” of § 1927 and that sanctions pursuant to this Court’s inherent power were not warranted. Id. at *8-9.
Based on its findings that Crawford failed to comply with Rule 11’s procedural requirements and that the Sanctions Motion was “substantively without merit, ” this Court concluded that “Defendants, and any additional sanctions targets, are the prevailing parties” and, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c)(2), “these responding parties and counsel are entitled to their reasonable attorneys’ fees resulting directly from Plaintiff’s filing, in an amount sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct.” Id. at *9. Pursuant to the Sanctions Order, JAL and HACS each filed a motion for attorneys’ fees (“JAL Fee Motion” and “HACS Fee Motion”) on June 24, 2013. [Dkt. nos. 469, 470.] The magistrate judge deferred ruling on the motions for attorneys’ fees pending the disposition of the Motion to Dismiss. [EO, filed 9/12/13 (dkt. no. 512).] Thus, the magistrate judge issued the HACS F&R and the JAL F&R after the Dismissal Order.
In the HACS F&R, the magistrate judge recommended granting the HACS Fee Motion in part and denying it in part. The magistrate judge recommended reducing the requested award of $12, 796.79 to $7, 972.61. In the JAL F&R, the magistrate judge recommended reducing the requested award of $74, 441.48 in attorneys’ fees and $4, 947.12 in costs to $52, 511.02 in attorneys’ fees and $4, 580.87 in costs.
The instant objections followed.
This district court reviews a magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations regarding an award of attorneys’ fees under the following standard:
When a party objects to a magistrate judge’s findings or recommendations, the district court must review de novo those portions to which the objections are made and “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673 (1980); United States v. Reyna–Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (“[T]he district judge must review the magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.”).
Under a de novo standard, this Court reviews “the matter anew, the same as if it had not been heard before, and as if no decision previously had been rendered.” Freeman v. DirecTV, Inc., 457 F.3d 1001, 1004 (9th Cir. 2006); United States v. Silverman, 861 F.2d 571, 576 (9th Cir. 1988). The district court need not hold a de novo hearing; however, it is the court’s obligation to arrive at its own independent conclusion about those portions of the magistrate judge’s findings or recommendation to which a party objects. United States v. Remsing, 874 F.2d 614, 616 (9th Cir. 1989).
Valencia v. Carrington Mortg. Servs., LLC, Civil No. 10–00558 LEK–RLP, 2013 WL 3223628, at *5 ...