The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge
This matter comes before the Court on the motion of Plaintiff, Atlantic City Associates, LLC ("ACA"), to recover prejudgment interest, attorney's fees, and other litigation expenses from Defendant, Carter & Burgess Consultants, Inc. ("Carter"). For the reasons set forth below, ACA's motion shall be granted in part and denied in part.
This case stems from a construction project to build mixed retail and commercial use property in Atlantic City, New Jersey. ACA is the owner/lessee of the property, which is known as "The Walk." Carter was retained by ACA to provide architectural, engineering, and other design services on the project. Ultimately, the project experienced significant delays for which ACA blames Carter. On June 27, 2005, ACA brought this action against Carter for breach of contract and professional negligence. Thereafter, Carter brought a counterclaim against ACA for breach of contract.
Ultimately, following a thirteen-day trial in this matter, a jury returned a verdict in favor of ACA on both its breach of contract and professional negligence claims, and against Carter on it breach of contract counterclaim. On the breach of contract claim, the jury awarded damages for additional construction costs to fix errors, additional payments to contractors due to delay, lost rental income, and additional administrative costs. Collectively, these damages totaled $7,608,794.30. On the professional negligence claim, the jury awarded damages in the same amount.
During the course of this litigation, ACA asserts that it incurred significant attorney's fees and costs, which it now seeks to recover from Carter.*fn1 Specifically, ACA now moves for attorney's fees in the amount of $2,881,282.50, and costs as follows:
ACA also seeks to recover prejudgment interest on the amount awarded by the jury. Carter contests ACA's entitlement to recover both prejudgment interest and its attorney's fees and costs. Alternatively, Carter challenges the reasonableness of the amounts sought by ACA.
A federal court sitting in diversity applies the laws of the forum state in determining whether an award of prejudgment interest is appropriate. See Jarvis v. Johnson, 668 F.2d 740, 746 (3d Cir. 1982); N. Bergen Rex Trasnp., Inc. v. Trailer Leasing Co., 730 A.2d 843, 848 (N.J. 1999). Under New Jersey law, the award of prejudgment interest on contract claims is based on equitable principles. See County of Essex v. First Union Nat. Bank, 891 A.2d 600, 608 (N.J. 2006). For such claims, "[t]he allowance of prejudgment interest is a matter of discretion for the trial court." Id.
The basic consideration is that the defendant has had the use, and the plaintiff has not, of the amount in question; and the interest factor simply covers the value of the sum awarded for the prejudgment period during which the defendant had the benefit of the monies to which the plaintiff is found to have been earlier entitled.
Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co., 323 A.2d 495, 512 (N.J. 1974); see also County of Essex, 891 A.2d at 608.
For tort claims, the award of prejudgment interest is expressly governed by New Jersey Court Rule 4:42-11(b), which provides, in relevant part:
[T]he court shall, in tort actions, . . . include in the judgment simple interest, calculated as hereafter provided, from the date of the institution of the action or from a date 6 months after the date the cause of action arises, whichever is later, provided that in exceptional cases the court may suspend the running of such prejudgment interest. Prejudgment interest shall not, however, be allowed on any recovery for future economic losses. Prejudgment interest shall be calculated in the same amount and manner provided for by paragraph (a) of this rule . . . .
New Jersey Court Rule 4:42-11(a) provides, in relevant part:
Except as otherwise ordered by the court or provided by law, judgments, awards and orders for the payment of money, taxed costs and counsel fees ...