United States District Court, D. Hawaii
THE HANOVER INSURANCE COMPANY; MASSACHUSETTS BAY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiffs,
ANOVA FOOD, LLC, Defendant. ANOVA FOOD, LLC, Counter-Claimant,
THE HANOVER INSURANCE COMPANY; MASSACHUSETTS BAY INSURANCE COMPANY, Counter-Defendants.
ORDER ON REMAINING ISSUES REGARDING THE ZOBRIST LAW
FIRM'S ATTORNEYS' FEES
Court previously ruled that the Hanover Companies are
required to pay reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by
the Zobrist Law Firm in defending Anova Food, LLC between
October 12, 2012 and December 10, 2013 in the Underlying
Lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the
District of Hawaii, Kowalski v. Anova Food, LLC, et
al., Civ. No. 11-00795HG-RLP.
Court previously ordered the Parties to provide additional
briefing as to their on-going dispute as to the
attorneys' fees owed to the Zobrist Law Firm. The
briefing left many unanswered questions. Further briefing is
Anova Food, LLC (“Anova LLC”) was covered by
Plaintiffs/Counter-Defendants the Hanover Insurance Company
and Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company's (“the
Hanover Companies”) four commercial liability insurance
policies that were in effect between July 1, 2010 and July
11, 2014. (See Insurance Policies attached as Exs.
B, C, D to Pla.'s First Amended Complaint, ECF Nos.
December 29, 2011, the Underlying Lawsuit, William R.
Kowalski; Hawaii International Seafood, Inc. v. Anova Food,
LLC; Anova Food, Inc., et al., Civ. No. 11-00795HG-RLP,
was filed against Anova LLC.
October 12, 2012, Anova LLC requested the Hanover Companies
provide it a defense to the Underlying Suit pursuant to the
relevant insurance policies. (Declaration of Darren Zobrist
(“Zobrist Decl.”) at ¶ 6, ECF No. 75).
December 13, 2012, the Hanover Companies agreed to provide a
defense to Anova LLC pursuant to a reservation of rights, as
long as Anova LLC's attorneys agreed to “comply
with Hanover's Litigation Guidelines.” (Letter from
Hanover Regional Liability Adjuster Stephen E. Colville,
dated December 13, 2012, ECF No. 75-4).
LLC agreed to have the Hanover Companies defend it in the
Underlying Lawsuit. At that point, Anova LLC was represented
by both Attorney Gary Grimmer and the Zobrist law firm.
(Zobrist Decl. at ¶¶ 5-6, ECF No. 75; Declaration
of Craig E. Marshall, member of the Zobrist Law Group,
(“Marshall Decl.) at ¶¶ 6-8, ECF No. 104;
Letter from Hanover Regional Liability Adjuster Stephen E.
Colville, dated December 10, 2013, to counsel for Anova LLC
at pp. 4-5, ECF No. 75-5).
Court ruled in its June 29, 2016 Order that Anova LLC is
entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the
Zobrist law firm between October 12, 2012 until December 10,
2013. (June 29, 2016 Order Denying the Hanover Companies'
Motion for Summary Judgment and Granting, In Part, and
Denying, In Part, Anova LLC's Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment at pp. 49-55, ECF No. 151).
Court held that the Hanover Companies are required to pay the
reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the Zobrist law
firm starting from October 12, 2012, which was the date when
Anova LLC requested a defense from the Hanover Companies.
(Id. at p. 55). The Court held that the Hanover
Companies were required to pay the attorneys' fees for
the Zobrist law firm until December 10, 2013, which was the
date the Hanover Companies decided to provide different
counsel to Anova LLC in the Underlying Lawsuit.
LLC claims that the Hanover Companies have not paid the
Zobrist Law Firm's reasonable attorneys' fees. Anova
LLC claims that it submitted bills to the Hanover Companies
for fees incurred by the Zobrist Law Firm in the amount of
$699, 778, for which the Hanover Companies paid only $284,
624, leaving a balance owed of $385, 153.
Hanover Companies assert that their billing guidelines are
the basis for how attorneys fees should be calculated. The
Hanover Companies assert that they already paid $284, 624 to
the Zobrist Law Firm and that no balance is owed because the
remaining fees billed did not comply with their billing
guidelines and were unreasonable.
Supreme Court of Florida has found that the federal lodestar
approach provides an objective structure to determine
reasonable attorney fees. Florida Patient's
Compensation Fund v. Rowe, 472 So.2d 1145, 1149-50 (Fla.
1985). Pursuant to Florida law, courts determine reasonable
attorney fees by analyzing the following criteria:
(1) The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty
of the question involved, and the skill requisite to perform
the legal service properly;
(2) The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the
acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other