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Lotus Industries, LLC v. Archer

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

August 30, 2019

LOTUS INDUSTRIES, LLC, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
DENNIS ARCHER, Jr., et al., Defendants.

          Sean F. Cox, District Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING NONPARTY IGNITION MEDIA'S BILL OF COSTS (DE 126)

          ANTHONY P. PATTI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Background

         A. Procedural History

         On October 25, 2017, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against multiple defendants alleging an overarching conspiracy between Defendants the City of Detroit, Dennis Archer Jr., and his company Ignition Media, and others to facilitate Defendant Archer's acquisition of the Centre Park Bar property. (DE 1.) Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged claims for civil RICO, First Amendment retaliation, a declaration that Defendants Archer and the City of Detroit are violating the City's sign ordinance, and a declaration that the City's noise ordinance is unconstitutionally vague. (Id.) Plaintiffs' complaint also alleged a claim against Michigan's then- Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson, seeking a declaration that Michigan's prohibition on direct campaign contributions by corporations violates the First Amendment. (Id.) On August 22, 2018, the Court dismissed all of these claims against the defendants, except the First Amendment retaliation claim by Plaintiffs Lotus Industries, LLC and Christopher Williams against Defendant Dennis Archer Jr. (DE 62.) On January 15, 2019, the Court entered a stipulated order dismissing Plaintiff Lotus Industries LLC. (DE 110.) Accordingly, only Williams remains as a party plaintiff.

         B. The Court's Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Nonparty Ignition Media and Awarding Sanctions (DE 120)

         On March 27, 2019, I entered an order (1) denying Plaintiff Christopher Williams' motion to compel nonparty Ignition Media to produce documents requested in a September 20, 2018 subpoena and (2) awarding sanctions. (DE 120.) In that order, I denied “Plaintiff's request for financial documents of nonparty Ignition Media to determine ‘whether Defendant Archer has the financial resources and assets to pay any monetary judgment and/or damages that may be awarded by a jury against … Archer in this case' … because it is premature and seeks irrelevant information and is therefore improper, ” explaining that “[i]t is well settled that, where a plaintiff does not seek punitive damages, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 ‘will not permit the discovery of facts concerning a defendant's financial status, or ability to satisfy a judgment, since such matters are not relevant, and cannot lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.'” (Id. at 2 (collecting cases).) That Order also noted that Plaintiff withdrew his remaining requests for documents in his subpoena at the March 26, 2019 hearing, and thus his motion to compel as to those remaining documents was denied as moot. (Id. at 3.)

         I further found that a sanction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(1) was “appropriate because Plaintiff failed to ‘take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on' nonparty Ignition Media when he sought financial documents he plainly did not have a good faith basis to request, ” and because “although Plaintiff withdrew his request for the remaining documents listed in the subpoena at the hearing, counsel for nonparty Ignition Media was forced to go through the time and expense of objecting to those requests, addressing those requests in its response to the instant motion to compel, and preparing to address those requests at the hearing[.]” (Id. (emphasis in original)) Thus, nonparty Ignition Media was awarded “reasonable attorney's fees” and costs against Plaintiff's counsel pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(1), and ordered to submit a bill of costs or stipulated bill of costs by April 26, 2019. (Id. at 4 (emphasis in original))[1]

         C. Ignition Media's Bill of Costs

         On April 26, 2019, nonparty Ignition Media filed its bill of costs seeking an award of $8, 611.25 in attorneys' fees, for 8.25 hours at a rate of $410/hour and 11.75 hours at a rate of $445/hour. (DE 126.) Ignition Media attaches its counsel's redacted billing records in support. (DE 126-3.)

         Plaintiff filed his objections to nonparty Ignition Media's bill of costs on May 3, 2019, arguing that the bill of costs is “absurd” and “seek[s] an exorbitant amount for responding to a simple motion to compel” that is essentially “only 8 pages in length and cited only 9 cases.” (DE 132.) Plaintiff contends that nonparty Ignition Media should be compensated for no more than 3 hours at a rate of $225 an hour. (Id.)

         II. Analysis

         A. ...


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