United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION, GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR ATTORNEY
FEES AND COSTS AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION
L. LUDINGTON, United States District Judge
2, 2017, Defendants Greenwood Township, James Hervilla, Fred
Lindsey, Larry Mathias, and Thomas McCauley (as Greenwood
Township Trustee) filed a motion for attorney fees and costs.
ECF No. 112. On May 11, 2017, Defendants Linda Argue, Thomas
McCauley, and Moon Lake Property Owner's association
filed a motion for attorney fees and costs. ECF No. 117. On
May 16, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a motion for attorney fees and
costs. ECF No. 124.
matters were referred to Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris.
ECF No. 113, 118, 126. On June 26, 2017, Judge Morris issued
a report recommending that Defendants' motions for
attorney fees and costs, ECF Nos. 112 and 117, be granted,
and that Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs' counsel be held
jointly and severally liable for the payment of (a) $102,
174.80 to Defendants Greenwood Township, Fred Lindsey, Thomas
McCauley as Greenwood Township Trustee, Jim Havrilla, and
Larry Mathias, and (b) $111, 491.07 to Defendants Linda
Argue, Thomas McCauley, and Moon Lake Property Owners'
Association. ECF No. 142. Judge Morris's report also
recommended that Plaintiffs' motion for attorney fees and
costs be denied. Id. Plaintiffs timely objected to
the report and recommendation. ECF No. 143. For the reasons
that follow, the objections will be overruled, the report and
recommendation will be adopted, Defendants' motions for
attorney fees and costs will be granted, and Plaintiffs'
motion for attorney fees and costs will be denied.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, a party may object to
and seek review of a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2).
Objections must be stated with specificity. Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151 (1985) (citation omitted). If
objections are made, “[t]he district judge must
determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's
disposition that has been properly objected to.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De novo review requires at least a
review of the evidence before the magistrate judge; the Court
may not act solely on the basis of a magistrate judge's
report and recommendation. See Hill v. Duriron Co.,
656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). After reviewing the
evidence, the Court is free to accept, reject, or modify the
findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge. See
Lardie v. Birkett, 221 F.Supp.2d 806, 807 (E.D. Mich.
those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo
review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d
636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). “The parties have the duty to
pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that
the district court must specially consider.”
Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
A general objection, or one that merely restates the
arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently
identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge.
See VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D.
Mich. 2004). An “objection” that does nothing
more than disagree with a magistrate judge's
determination, “without explaining the source of the
error, ” is not considered a valid objection.
Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932
F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). Without specific objections,
“[t]he functions of the district court are effectively
duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court
perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort
wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs
contrary to the purposes of the Magistrate's Act.”
raise three objections to the report and recommendation. Each
will be addressed in turn.
Plaintiffs object on the ground that “It is unfair to
award $215, 000 in attorney fees without oral
argument.” Obj. at 2-3, ECF No. 143. The specific
provision of the report and recommendation objected to is
Part I, PG. ID 4085, wherein Judge Morris concluded that
“[e]ach motion is therefore ready for
determination.” Id. at 2. Plaintiffs submit
that serious prejudice will arise if an opportunity for oral
argument is not afforded. Plaintiffs quote Central
Distrib. Of Beer v. Conn, which underscores the value of
oral argument. 5 F.3d 181 (6th Cir. 1993).
Plaintiff also cites to Matthews v. Eldridge for the
proposition that the “Constitution guarantees
Plaintiffs a meaningful opportunity to be heard at a
meaningful time.” Obj. at 3; Matthews v.
Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976).
have had a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Plaintiffs
were afforded an opportunity to respond to Defendants'
motions for attorney fees, were granted an extension of time
to respond to the motions, and responded to both motions.
See ECF Nos. 123, 132. Plaintiffs also filed their
own motion for attorney fees, and replied to Defendants'
response to said motion. See ECF Nos. 124, 139.
Judge Morris reviewed the briefing and issued a report and
recommendation. ECF No. 142. Plaintiffs then had an
opportunity to make specific objections to Judge Morris's
proposed findings. Rather than objecting to specific proposed
findings, Plaintiffs request an opportunity for oral
argument. However, Plaintiffs have not identified any factual
or legal issues that would need to be explored during oral
argument. Accordingly, the objection will be overruled.
first objection also appears to challenge the authority of a
U.S. District Court to refer motions for attorney fees to a
Magistrate Judge. Plaintiff notes that 28 U.S.C.
§636(b)(1) provides for the referral of pretrial matters
to Magistrate Judges, and seems to infer from this provision
that “it may well be that these post-trial
motions may not properly be the subject of referral to a
Magistrate Judge in the first place.” Obj. at 2. To the
contrary, rule 54(d)(2)(D) provides that the Court “may
refer a motion for attorney's fees to a magistrate judge
under Rule 72(b) as if it were a dispositive pretrial
matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(2)(D).
Plaintiffs' first ...