United States District Court, D. Hawaii
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEYS' FEES
RICHARD L. PUGLISI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
AWARD OF ATTORNEYS' FEES
the Court is Defendant's Motion For Award of
Attorneys' Fees, filed on December 22, 2017
(“Motion”). ECF No. 60. Defendant requests an
award of attorneys' fees pursuant to Hawaii Revised
Statutes Section 607-14. Plaintiff filed its Opposition on
January 19, 2018. ECF No. 63. Defendant filed its Reply on
February 2, 2018. ECF No. 64. The Court found this matter
suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Local
Rule 7.2(d). ECF No. 61. After careful consideration of the
submissions of the parties and the relevant legal authority,
the Court FINDS AND RECOMMENDS that Defendant's Motion be
August 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint for declaratory
and injunctive relief against Defendant. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff
alleged that Defendant wrongfully withheld in escrow $200,
000 that was deposited in connection with a real estate
auction run by Concierge Auctions LLC
acted as the escrow agent for the auction of property in
Idaho. ECF No. 45-11. To participate in the auction, a
prospective bidder had to submit a Bidder Registration form
and wire to Defendant a $500, 000 deposit prior to September
15, 2015. ECF No. 41 ¶ 8. On August 21, 2015, Brian
Anderson wired from Plaintiff's bank account a partial
deposit of $200, 000 to Defendant. Id. ¶ 1. Mr.
Anderson generally had authority to wire money from
Plaintiff's accounts. ECF No. 45 ¶ 3. Neither
Plaintiff nor Mr. Anderson executed a Bidder Registration
form or Escrow Agreement. ECF No. 41 ¶¶ 10, 15.
August 19, 2015, Rodger May signed a Bidder Registration form
and Escrow Agreement. ECF No. 45-10; ECF No. 45-11. On August
24, 2015, Mr. May deposited $300, 000 to Defendant. ECF No.
41 ¶ 11; ECF No. 45 ¶ 15. Defendant categorized
Plaintiff's $200, 000 deposit as satisfying the balance
of Mr. May's $500, 000 deposit obligation for the
auction. ECF No. 41 ¶ 24. Though Mr. May is not
Plaintiff's agent, he had previously jointly bid with Mr.
Anderson on other properties sold by Concierge. ECF No. 45
¶ 1; ECF No. 41 ¶ 25. Concierge identified the
winning bid of the property auction as “Rodger
May/Brian Anderson/Iolani Islander.” ECF No. 54 ¶
40. The Escrow Agreement Mr. May signed provided that if a
successful bidder did not fulfill its obligations under the
Agreement, the deposit would be released to Concierge.
Id. ¶ 41. Mr. May did not execute a purchase
agreement, and on October 1, 2015, Defendant informed Mr. May
that it would be remitting the $500, 000 deposit to
Concierge. Id. ¶¶ 42-43.
Complaint Plaintiff asked for an order and judgment:
1. Declaring that Iolani Islander was never a bidder at the
Auction as it never fulfilled the registration requirements
2. Declaring Iolani Islander has the immediate right to
possess the $200, 000 Stewart Title now holds in escrow as no
other party was authorized to use and/or keep Iolani
islander's initial deposit;
3. Ordering that Stewart Title return the $200, 000 it
received on August 21, 2015 from Iolani Islander.
4. Awarding Iolani Islander its attorneys' fees and costs
as allowed by law; and
5. Granting such other and further relief as the Court may