United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER AWARDING DAMAGES
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge
Lynnette Thomas brought suit to enforce a judgment she
received in a previous case, Thomas v. Athlete's
Foot, Case No. 10-cv-12558 (the "Original
Case"). The Court has determined that Plaintiff is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law and also ordered the
parties to submit supplemental briefing on damages. Plaintiff
now seeks the following damages: (1) $105, 512.50 pursuant to
the judgment in the Original Case; (2) $20, 534.13 in
prejudgment interest; (3) $2, 683.80 in costs for the present
action; and (4) $42, 035.75 in attorney's fees for the
present action. ECF 20, PgID 675. The Court will address each
request in turn and award Plaintiff $126, 446.63.
Judgment in the Original Case
is entitled to the entire judgment from the Original Case. In
the Original Case, Plaintiff sued her corporate employer
Detroit Sport Foot. The corporation initially participated in
the litigation, but stopped after Plaintiff's action
survived a motion for summary judgment. ECF 14-23, PgID 340.
The Court then entered default judgment against Detroit Sport
Foot and awarded Plaintiff $105, 512.50. ECF 19-7, PgID 640.
Plaintiff was unable to collect on the judgment, so she filed
a separate cause of action to pierce the corporate veil. The
Court ultimately granted Plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment, and found that she could collect personally against
Detroit Sport Foot's owner: Defendant Edwan Khrawesh. ECF
18. The legal significance of piercing the corporate veil is
that an individual is made personally liable for a
corporation's liabilities. Piercing the Corporate
Veil, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed.
2014); see also Ryan Racing, LLC v. Gentilozzi, 231
F.Supp.3d 269, 282 (W.D. Mich. 2017); Gallagher v.
Persha, 315 Mich.App. 647, 654 (2016); Green v.
Ziegelman, 310 Mich.App. 436, 465 (2015). So here, the
Court found that Defendant is personally liable for Detroit
Sport Foot's liability from the Original Case. ECF 18.
Accordingly, it is appropriate to award the amount of the
judgment as damages.
argues that the default judgment in the Original Case should
have been less, ECF 19, but his arguments are misplaced. The
proper time for Defendant to have limited his exposure was in
the Original Case. He had ample opportunity to fully litigate
every issue, and as a result his corporation-and now
Defendant personally- could have won the case or incurred
less damages. Instead, Defendant decided to abandon the
litigation and strip the corporation of assets. And those
decisions had consequences: the Court entered default
judgment against Detroit Sport Foot and has allowed Plaintiff
to pierce the corporate veil.
Court finds that Plaintiff is entitled to her entire request
for prejudgment interest. The question of whether Plaintiff
is entitled to prejudgment interest is governed by Michigan
law. Perceptron, Inc. v. Sensor Adaptive Mach.,
Inc., 221 F.3d 913, 922 (6th Cir. 2000). Michigan law
provides that "[i]nterest is allowed on a money judgment
recovered in a civil action." Mich. Comp. Laws §
600.6013(1). Plaintiff argues that the interest is mandatory,
ECF 20, PgID 667, but it is unclear whether she is correct.
Certain subsections of the statute use mandatory language,
see, e.g. Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 600.6013(3)
and (4), and Michigan courts have interpreted the mandatory
language as compelling prejudgment interest, see,
e.g., Everett v. Nickola, 234 Mich.App. 632,
639 (1999). Here, however, Plaintiff seeks to recover under
§ 600.6013(8). ECF 20, PgID 667. That subsection does
not use mandatory language. Nonetheless, the Court finds that
interest is appropriate because Defendant's actions
unduly delayed Plaintiff's recovery. See
Everett, 234 Mich.App. at 639 (holding that §
600.6013 should be liberally construed in favor of
plaintiffs). Because Plaintiff provided her calculation of
the interest, ECF 20-4, represented that it complies with the
strictures of § 600.6013(8), ECF 20, PgID 667-68, and
Defendant has not argued against the calculation, the Court
finds that Plaintiff is entitled to the amount of the entire
Costs for the Present Action
Court finds that Plaintiff is entitled to $400 in costs.
Civil Rule 54(d)(1) generally provides that costs should be
allowed to the prevailing party. Fed R. Civ. P.
54(d)(1). Costs, however, are not synonymous with expenses.
10 Wright & Miller, Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ.
§ 2666 (3d ed.). Rather, the Court looks to the
definition of "taxable costs" provided in 28 U.S.C.
§ 1920. See Goostree v. Tennessee, 796 F.2d
854, 863 (6th Cir. 1986). Plaintiff submitted a list of
requested costs, ECF 20-6, and the Court finds that only the
$400 filing fee is recoverable. The remaining requests either
do not satisfy the requirements of § 1920 or have
transaction dates prior to the filing of the case; that fact
suggests the costs were more likely incurred in relation to
the Original Case.
Attorney's Fees for the Present Action
Court finds that Plaintiff is not entitled to attorney's
fees. Courts generally do not award attorney's fees
absent explicit statutory authority. Buckhannon Bd. &
Care Home, Inc. v. W.Va. Dep't of Health & Human
Res., 532 U.S. 598, 602 (2001) (citing Key Tronic
Corp. v. United States, 511 U.S. 809, 819 (1994)). In
her argument for attorney's fees, Plaintiff does not cite
any statutory authority. ECF 20, PgID 669-70. She instead
cites case law for the proposition that attorney's fees
are appropriate for "post-judgment collection
efforts." Id. Plaintiff's argument is
unpersuasive for two reasons. First, it relies on cases from
outside the Sixth Circuit. Second, the cited cases pertain to
post-judgment efforts as part of a cause of action with
statutorily authorized attorney's fees. See,
e.g., Free v. Briody, 793 F.2d 807, 808-09 (7th
Cir. 1986); Balark v. Curtin, 655 F.2d 798, 802-03
(7th Cir. 1981); Shaw v. AAA Eng'g & Drafting,
Inc., 213 F.3d 538, 544-45 (10th Cir. 2000). Here,
Plaintiff brought a separate cause of action to pierce the
corporate veil. And consequently, attorney's fees are not
statutorily authorized because the action is not brought
under Title VII or Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights
Acts. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k); Mich. Comp.
Laws § 37.2802. The Court therefore finds that an award
of attorney's fees is inappropriate.
it is hereby ORDERED that Plaintiff is
awarded $126, 446.63 in damages ($105, 512.50 for the
judgment in the Original Case, $20, 534.13 ...