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Young Men's Christian Association of Honolulu v. Aloha Kai Development, LLC

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

September 19, 2018

YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF HONOLULU, a Hawaii Nonprofit Corporation, Petitioner,
v.
ALOHA KAI DEVELOPMENT, LLC, a Hawaii Limited Liability Company, Respondent.

          ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT IN PART AND DENY IN PART PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS

          Alan C. Kay Judge.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts in part and rejects in part the Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendation to Grant in Part and Deny in Part Petitioner YMCA's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs, ECF No. 24, issued by Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi on July 30, 2018.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         Petitioner initiated this action on March 7, 2018, by filing a Motion for Order Confirming Arbitration Award, seeking confirmation of an arbitration award pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) Section 658A. See ECF No. 1. Respondent filed its Countermotion to Vacate or Correct the Arbitration Award on May 1, 2018. On June 5, 2018, this Court issued its Order Granting Petitioner's Motion for Order Confirming Arbitration Award and Denying Respondent's Countermotion to Vacate or Correct the Arbitration Award. ECF No. 14. Judgment was entered in Petitioner's favor on June 5, 2018. ECF No. 15.

         Thereafter, on June 12, 2018, Petitioner filed a Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs. ECF No. 16. Respondent filed its Opposition on July 10, 2018, ECF No. 21, and Petitioner filed its Reply on July 24, 2018. ECF No. 23. On July 30, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued his Findings and Recommendation to Grant in Part and Deny in Part YMCA's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs (the “F&R”). ECF No. 24.

         In the F&R, the Magistrate Judge recommended that this Court grant Petitioner attorneys' fees in the amount of $13, 978.53 and costs in the amount of $400.00 pursuant to HRS Section 658A-25(c). F&R at 7-8.

         On August 13, 2018, Petitioner filed two objections (“Petitioner's Objections”) to the Magistrate Judge's F&R. ECF No. 25. First, Petitioner objected to the Magistrate Judge's recommended reduction of Mr. Nickolas A. Kacprowski's requested hourly rate of $375.00 per hour to $270.00 per hour. Petitioner's Objections at 1. Second, Petitioner objected to the Magistrate Judge's recommended deduction of 1.4 hours from the time requested for Mr. Kacprowski for having a second attorney, Mr. Paul Alston, attend the hearing on Petitioner's Motion for Order Confirming the Arbitration Award and Respondent's Countermotion to Vacate or Correct the Arbitration Award (the “Hearing”). Id. On August 27, 2018, Respondent filed its response (“Respondent's Response”) to Petitioner's objections. ECF No. 26.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The district court may accept those portions of a magistrate judge's findings and recommendation that are not objected to if it is satisfied that there is no clear error on the face of the record. United States v. Bright, Civ. No. 07-00311 ACK-KSC, 2009 WL 5064355, at *3 (D. Haw. Dec. 23, 2009); Stow v. Murashige, 288 F.Supp.2d 1122, 1127 (D. Haw. 2003).

         When a party objects to a magistrate judge's findings and recommendation, 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 and recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); L.R. 74.2. Under a de novo standard, a district court “review[s] 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).

         The district court has discretion, but is not required, to consider evidence presented for the first time in a party's objection to a magistrate judge's recommendation. Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1208 (9th Cir. 2012). The district court may receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); L.R. 74.2. The district court may consider the record developed before the magistrate judge, but the Court must make its own determination on the basis of that record. L.R. 74.2.

         DISCUSSION

         The parties have not objected to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that this Court hold that Petitioner is entitled to an award of reasonable attorneys' fees, as a general matter, and costs in the amount of $400.00 under HRS Section 658A-25. See generally F&R. The Court does not find clear error in the F&R regarding this recommendation and adopts it for the reasons stated therein.

         In the F&R, the Magistrate Judge recommended that this Court reduce Mr. Kacprowski's requested hourly rate as well as the total number of hours requested for Mr. Kacprowski's services due to duplicative billing. F&R at 7. To calculate reasonable attorneys' fees, the Magistrate Judge applied the method used by Hawaii courts, which is nearly identical to the traditional “lodestar” calculation set forth in Hensley v. Eckerhart. 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983); Gurrobat v. HTH Corp., 346 P.3d 197, 207 (Haw. 2015). Because Hawaii state courts have considered federal law in determining a reasonable hourly rate, federal case law is instructive in this matter. See, e.g., Cnty. of Haw. v. C & J Coupe Family Ltd. P'shp, 208 ...


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