United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS'
FEES AND COSTS, ECF NO. 20-GRANTED, IN PART PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT, ECF NO. 21-DENIED
F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
an action brought pursuant to the Communications Act of 1934,
47 U.S.C. § 605, et seq., and the Cable &
Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992,
47 U.S.C. § 553, et seq., for the unlawful
interception and exhibition of a boxing match on May 2, 2015.
Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc. was granted
exclusive nationwide commercial distribution rights to
“The fight of the Century” Floyd Mayweather,
Jr. v. Manny Pacquiao Championship Fight Program
(hereafter, “the Program”), and subsequently
entered into sublicensing agreements with various commercial
entities (hotels, bars, casinos, etc.) for the Program's
exhibition on May 2, 2015. Defendants Molly's Pub, Inc.
and its agent Anthony Maglietta did not have a sublicense
agreement with J & J for the exhibition of the Program,
nonetheless they intercepted and exhibited the Program the
night of its broadcast to between twenty and twenty-six
patrons of Molly's Pub. See generally
Plaintiff's Complaint, ECF No. 1.
J commenced this action for the Defendants' unauthorized
exhibition of the Program under the above-mentioned
telecommunications statutes on April 27, 2017. See
ECF No. 1. After the Defendants failed to answer or otherwise
appear in this action, J & J moved for entry of default
judgment, asking for $7, 500 in statutory damages and $22,
500 in enhanced damages. See Mot. for Def. Judg.,
ECF No. 17. In an Opinion and Order dated June 11, 2019, this
Court granted J & J's motion for entry of default
judgment and awarded J & J $3, 000 in statutory damages
and $1, 000 in enhanced damages, pursuant to 47 U.S.C. §
553. See Def. Judg. Opn., ECF No. 18; Def. Judg.
Order, ECF No. 19. The Court further granted J & J leave
to submit an application for attorneys' fees and costs,
provided the application was filed within fourteen days of
the Court's Opinion and Order.
25, 2019, J & J filed a timely motion for attorneys'
fees and costs, seeking $5, 976.00 in attorneys' fees and
$1, 389.28 in costs. See Fee Mot., ECF No. 20; Fee
Mem., ECF No. 20-1; Riley Decl., ECF No. 20-2. Shortly
thereafter, on July 9, 2019, J & J filed a motion to
alter or amend judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e). In this motion, J & J asks the Court for
damages in the amount originally sought in its motion for
entry of default judgment-$7, 500 in statutory damages and
$22, 500 in enhanced damages, rather than $3, 000 in
statutory damages and $1, 000 in enhanced damages, as
awarded-based on several alleged errors in the Court's
reasoning. See Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 21; Mem. to
Amend, ECF No. 21-1. Neither Defendant has responded to
either motion despite being properly served both.
reasons set forth below, J & J's motion for
attorneys' fees and costs is granted, in part, and its
motion to amend or alter this Court's previous award of
damages is denied.
MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS
to 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(2)(C), “[t]he court may
direct the recovery of full costs, including awarding
reasonable attorneys' fees to an aggrieved party who
prevails.” J & J seeks an award of attorneys'
fees in an amount of $5, 976.00 and an award of costs in an
amount of $1, 389.28. Its motion is supported by a
declaration of Thomas P. Riley, counsel of record for J &
J, in which Mr. Riley states that he billed at an hourly rate
of $500, administrative assistants involved in this case
billed at a rate of $100 per hour, and his firm's
research attorney, also involved in this case, billed at a
rate of $300 per hour. Riley Decl. ¶ 5. With this
declaration are contemporaneous billing records as well as a
breakdown of the billing based on the timekeeper. This
breakdown shows the requested fee award of $5, 976.00 is
comprised of 2.75 hours of work billed by Mr. Riley at his
$500 per hour rate, 10.01 hours of work billed by
administrative assistants at the $100 per hour rate, and 12.0
hours billed by the research attorney at the $300 per hour
rate. Id., Ex. 1 at 4. With respect to J &
J's request for costs, to the declaration of Mr. Riley is
attached a breakdown of expenses, showing as follows: $650
for “Investigate Expense;” $28.18 for
“Courier Charges;” $400 for the “Complaint
Filing Fee;” $31.10 for “Photocopies
Charges;” $95.00 and $35.00 for “Service of
Process Fees;” and an additional $150.00 for a
“Sheriff Service Fee.” Id. In support of
these figures is documentation of a $650 fee from
“Lancaster Detective Agency, Inc.” for
investigative services, id., Ex. 3; as well as
documentation showing expenses associated with service of
process, id. Ex 4.
courts use the ‘lodestar' method in evaluating a
fee application. . . . Under the lodestar method, [an]
attorney's reasonable hourly rate is multiplied by the
number of hours the attorney reasonably spent working on a
matter.” A.B. by & through F.B. v. Pleasant
Valley Sch. Dist., No. 3:17-CV-02311, 2019 WL 2715681,
at *2 (M.D. Pa. June 28, 2019) (quoting D.O. ex rel. M.O.
v. Jackson Twp. Bd. of Educ., No. CV 17-1581, 2019 WL
1923388, at *2 (D.N.J. Apr. 30, 2019)). The resulting figure
“is presumed to be [a] reasonable fee.”
Pleasant Valley Sch. Dist., 2019 WL 2715681, at *2;
Rayna P. v. Campus Cmty. Sch., 390 F.Supp.3d 556,
561 (D. Del. 2019).
respect to whether the fee applicant has billed at “a
reasonable hourly rate, ” such a rate is generally
“calculated according to the prevailing market rates in
the relevant community.” Maldonado v.
Houstoun, 256 F.3d 181, 184 (3d Cir. 2001); see J
& J Sports Prods., Inc. v. TCOS Enterprises, Inc.,
No. CIV.A. 10-7130, 2012 WL 1361655, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 19,
2012) (“In determining the prevailing market rate, a
court must consider the rates charged ‘in the community
for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable
skill, experience, and reputation.'” (quoting
Rode v. Dellarciprete, 892 F.2d 1177, 1183 (3d Cir.
Application to J & J's Motion
reviewed the contemporaneous billing records submitted by J
& J's counsel, the Court finds the time billed-24.76
hours in total, see Riley Dec., Ex. 1-and the
specific tasks for which that time was billed, to be
reasonable in light of the requirements of this case.
Moreover, the Court finds that the hourly rates at which the
three participants of counsel's firm billed-$500 for Mr.
Riley, $300 for the research attorney, and $100 for the
administrative assistants, see id.-were also
reasonable in light of each individual's qualifications
and the “market rates in the relevant community.”
Maldonado, 256 F.3d at 184. Specifically, Mr. Riley
is an attorney specializing in telecommunication matters with
over twenty-five years of experience. See Riley
Decl. ¶¶ 3-4. His hourly rate of $500 is reasonable
in light of the hourly rates in this market for similar
services. See, e.g., J&J Sports
Prods., Inc. v. Allen, No. CV 17-4046, 2018 WL 1307880,
at *5 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 13, 2018) (finding that, in a similar
telecommunications case with Mr. Riley as counsel for J &
J, the “billed hourly rates of J&J's national
($500) and local ($400) counsel are reasonable for attorneys
of their experience in this District”); J&J
Sports Prods., Inc. v. Ramsey, No. CV 17-1942, 2017 WL
4287200, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 27, 2017) (“The billed
hourly rates of Plaintiff's national ($450) and local
($400) counsel are reasonable for attorneys of their
experience in this District.”), aff'd, 757
Fed.Appx. 93 (3d Cir. 2018). Similarly, counsel's
research attorney has been practicing law for over
twenty-four years, and his hourly rate of $300 is
reasonable. Cf. Keister v. PPL Corp., 257 F.Supp.3d
693, 702 (M.D. Pa. 2016) (finding $275 to be a reasonable
hourly rate in 2016 in the Middle District of Pennsylvania
for an experienced employment law attorney),
aff'd, 677 Fed.Appx. 63 (3d Cir. 2017);
Chaney v. HVL, LLC, No. CIV.A. 11-0833, 2012 WL
5990124, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 30, 2012) (finding $300 to be a
reasonable hourly rate in 2012 in the Western District of
Pennsylvania for an experienced employment law attorney).
Finally, the Court finds $100 a reasonable hourly rate for an
administrative assistant. See Wilson v. Advanced Urgent
Care, P.C., No. 4:16-CV-00214, 2018 WL 1315663, at *3
(M.D. Pa. Mar. 14, 2018) (finding $90 to be a reasonable rate
for a paralegal); J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v.
Thomas, No. CIV.A. 10-7051, 2011 WL 3156765, at *3 (E.D.
Pa. July 26, 2011) (“The rates charged by Mr.
Riley's administrative assistant, $75 per hour, and his
paralegal, $150 per hour, are also reasonable.”).
respect to costs, J & J seeks $650 for “Investigate
Expense;” $28.18 for “Courier Charges;”
$400 for the “Complaint Filing Fee;” $31.10 for
“Photocopies Charges;” $95.00 and $35.00 for
“Service of Process Fees;” and an additional
$150.00 for a “Sheriff Service Fee.” Riley Decl.,
Ex 1 at 4. The Court is satisfied with the documentation
provided by counsel and will award the costs sought, with the
exception of “Courier Charges” and
“Photocopies Charges.” There is no documentation
to support either request. See Yudenko v. Guarinni,
No. CIV. A. 06-CV-4161, 2010 WL 2490679, at *2 (E.D. Pa. June
15, 2010) (“Where the prevailing party does not provide
an itemized description of the copying, courts have
disallowed or reduced ...