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Architects v. Highway Inn, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 3, 2018

FROST-TSUJI ARCHITECTS, Plaintiff,
v.
HIGHWAY INN, INC.; HO`OLA MAU, LLC; BRYCE UYEHARA, A.I.A., INCORPORATED; J. KADOWAKI, INC.; FESTIVAL MANAGEMENT CORPORATION; et al, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO ENFORCE STIPULATION

          Susan Oki Mollway United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION.

         This is a copyright infringement case involving more litigation than justified by the initial amount in controversy. Plaintiff Frost-Tsuji Architects claimed that Defendants Highway Inn, Inc., and Ho`ola Mau, LLC (collectively, “Highway Inn”), had failed to pay approximately $39, 000 owed on an architectural contract. Frost-Tsuji asserted a copyright infringement claim arising out of Defendants' alleged use of Frost-Tsuji's architectural drawings. Frost-Tsuji also claimed that Defendants had removed its copyright management information from its architectural drawings. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants and awarded Defendants approximately $450, 000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

         The parties entered into a stipulation pursuant to which this court ordered Defendants to refrain from collection of the award of fees and costs from Frost-Tsuji in return for Frost-Tsuji's deposit of $230, 000 and $229, 530.56 into two interest-bearing accounts with Morgan Stanley Bank. Disbursement of the funds was delayed pending the exhaustion of the Ninth Circuit appeals and entry of final judgment with respect to those appeals.

         Defendants now seek disbursement of the funds held by Morgan Stanley Bank. Frost-Tsuji opposes the disbursement, arguing that it still has a right to seek a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court. The court is unpersuaded by Frost-Tsuji's argument and orders the disbursement of the funds.

         II. BACKGROUND.

         On April 15, 2015, this court entered Judgment in favor of Defendants and against Frost-Tsuji. See ECF No. 412. Frost-Tsuji appealed. See ECF No. 417 (Ninth Cir. No. 15-15802).

         On March 30, 2016, this court awarded fees and costs to Defendants as follows:

Bargreen Ellingson is awarded $23, 678.00 in attorney's fees and $355.97 in costs, for a total award of $24, 033.97; J. Kadowaki is awarded $135, 004.70 in attorney's fees and $4, 827.30 in costs, for a total award of $139, 832.00; Highway Inn and Ho‘ola Mau are awarded $209, 660.64 in attorney's fees and $4, 914.33 in costs, for a total award of $214, 574.97; and Highway Inn, on behalf of Bryce Uyehara and Iwamoto and Associates, is awarded $68, 885.31 in attorney's fees and $1, 204.31 in costs, for a total award of $70, 089.62.

ECF No. 472, PageID # 9614. Frost-Tsuji appealed this award of fees and costs. See ECF No. 473 (Ninth Circuit No. 16-15562).

         On April 29, 2016, Defendant J. Kadowaki, Inc., filed a cross-appeal regarding this court's award of fees and costs. See ECF No. 477 (Ninth Cir. No. 16-15799). That same day, Highway Inn also filed a cross-appeal from this court's award of fees and costs. See ECF No. 478 (Ninth Circuit No. 16-15802).

         On January 6, 2017, the parties stipulated to, and this court ordered, a stay of all enforcement and collection actions with respect to this court's award of fees and costs. See ECF No. 497, PageID # 9905. The stipulation and order provided that, in return for a stay of enforcement and collection actions with respect to this court's award of fees and costs, Frost-Tsuji would deposit with Morgan Stanley Bank $230, 000 and $229, 530.56 in interest-bearing accounts. Id. The stipulation and order further provided that, “upon the exhaustion of the appeals identified as United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit Docket Nos: 16-15562, 16-15799, and 16-15802, ” the funds deposited with Morgan Stanley Bank:

may be disbursed upon final judgment of the above appeals [, Ninth Circuit Numbers 16-15562, 16-15799, and 16-15802], by: (1) voluntary stipulation of all parties hereto and order of the Court, (2) direction of the Court upon a further status conference or sua sponte, (3) by Court ...

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