United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER ADOPTING THE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO
DENY DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEYS'
C. Kay, Sr. United States District Judge
reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the Findings and
Recommendation to Deny Defendant's Motion for Award of
Attorneys' Fees, ECF No. 65, issued by Magistrate Richard
L. Puglisi on February 28, 2018.
August 3, 2016, Plaintiff Iolani Islander, LLC
(“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint for declaratory
and injunctive relief against Defendant Stewart Title
Guaranty Co. (“Defendant”). Compl., ECF No. 1.
Plaintiff alleged that Defendant wrongfully withheld in
escrow $200, 000 that was deposited in connection with a real
estate auction that Concierge Auctions LLC
(“Concierge”) ran. Id.
acted as the escrow agent for the auction of the Big Wood
River Estate, a property in Idaho. ECF No. 45-11. In order to
participate in the auction, prospective bidders were required
to submit a Bidder Registration form and wire Defendant a
$500, 000 deposit before September 15, 2015. ECF No. 41
August 21, 2015, Brian Anderson wired a partial deposit of
$200, 000 from Plaintiff's bank account. 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 in their own name. ECF No. 41
¶¶ 10, 15.
days earlier, on August 19, 2015, Rodger May signed a Bidder
Registration form and Escrow Agreement. ECF No. 45-10; ECF
No. 45-11. He then deposited $300, 000 with Defendant on
August 24, 2015. ECF No 41 ¶ 11; ECF No. 45 ¶ 15.
Defendant characterized the $200, 000 Mr. Anderson deposited
from Plaintiff's account as a deposit satisfying the
remaining balance needed for Mr. May's $500, 000 deposit.
ECF No. 41 ¶ 24. Mr. May is not Plaintiff's agent,
however, he and Mr. Anderson had jointly bid on other
properties Concierge sold in the past. ECF No. 45 ¶ 1;
ECF No 41 ¶ 25.
the auction ended, Concierge identified the winning bidder of
the Big Wood River Estate auction as “Rodger May/Brian
Anderson/Iolani Islander.” ECF No 50 ¶ 40.
Significantly, the Escrow Agreement Mr. May signed stated
that a successful bidder's deposit would be released to
Concierge if that bidder failed to fulfill its obligations
under the agreement. Id. ¶ 41. Mr. May failed
to execute a purchase agreement, and on October 1, 2015,
Defendant informed Mr. May it would be remitting the $500,
000 deposit to Concierge. Id. ¶¶ 42-43
& Ex. R.
August 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed its Complaint seeking
declaratory and injunctive relief. ECF No. 1. Specifically,
the Complaint 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