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Ross University School of Medicine v. Amini

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 7, 2014

ROSS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BEHZAD AMINI, et al., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

TONIANNE J. BONGIOVANNI, Magistrate Judge.

This matter has been opened to the Court upon Motion [Docket Entry No. 39] by Plaintiffs Ross University School of Medicine and Global Education International, Inc. ("Plaintiffs" or "RUSM") for Attorneys' Fees and Costs pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 54. [Docket Entry No. 39]. The Motion is unopposed. The Court has fully considered the arguments set forth by Plaintiffs and has considered this matter pursuant to L.Civ.R. 78.1(b).

I. Background and Procedural History

On December 18, 2013, Plaintiffs moved for an Order to Show Cause [Docket Entry No. 25] to hold Defendant Behzad Amini ("Amini") in civil contempt for violating the District Court's Order of Preliminary Injunction entered on December 11, 2013. [Docket Entry No. 23]. The District Court's Order enjoined Defendants from, among other things,

Directly or indirectly publishing or disseminating, whether through the Offending, Infringing Sites or other outlets or mediums, any statements that would disparage, reflect negatively upon or call into question RUSM's business operations, products, services, integrity, reputation or business relationships, or the business operations, products, services, integrity, reputation or business relationships of RUSM and/or any of its parent, subsidiary or any other affiliated entities, and any all of its or their former and current members, principals, directors, officers, shareholders, employees, agents, attorneys, contractors, representatives, affiliates, predecessors, successors and assigns, including but not limited to any further disparaging communications with representatives of RUSM's affiliated institutions or governmental regulators or any of recipients of the emails in the Verified Complaint at paragraphs 65, 68, 78, and 82.

( Id. at 2). Two days after the Preliminary Injunction was entered, Amini violated its terms by issuing a "blast email utilizing a bogus email address to more than 200 recipients in which he accused RUSM's Dean and Chancellor, Joseph A. Flaherty, M.D., of having committed financial crime' and being worse than a common criminal.'" (Pl. Br. in Support of OTSC at 6-7; Docket Entry No. 25). Amini, while objecting to the substance of the Preliminary Injunction, had acknowledged its existence on the same day he disseminated the blast email. ( See Ltr. From Amini to Hon. Anne E. Thompson of 12/13/2013; Docket Entry No. 24).

Given Amini's violation of the Order of Preliminary Injunction, a contempt hearing was held on February 4, 2014. [Docket Entry No. 33]. Two days later, the District Court entered a Civil Contempt Order against Amini, which, in part, required Amini to pay "Plaintiffs their reasonable attorney's fees and costs in bringing this contempt action." (Civil Contempt Order at 2; Docket Entry No. 34).

Thereafter, on March 10, 2014, the District Court entered a Permanent Injunction against Amini and the other Defendants. As part of the Permanent Injunction, the Court again reiterated the appropriateness of requiring Amini to pay Plaintiffs' fees as outlined in the Contempt Order of February 6, 2014 Order, and also allowed Plaintiffs to "reserve the right to seek reimbursement of fees and costs above and beyond those in the contempt proceedings under fee shifting provisions applicable through statute or contract." (Order of 3/10/2014 at 4; Docket Entry No. 38).

II. Argument

Through the instant motion, in accordance with the District Court's Civil Contempt Order of 2/6/2014 and Order of 3/10/2014, Plaintiffs seek to recoup their attorneys' fees and costs. In support of their motion, Plaintiffs rely on their letter brief as well as the Declaration of James P. Flynn, Esq. to: (1) summarize the tasks performed on behalf of Plaintiffs; (2) the hours dedicated to those tasks; (3) the experience of the attorneys who performed said tasks; and (4) the rates at which counsel and their paralegal billed Plaintiffs. [Docket Entry No. 39].

The breakdown of fees requested is as follows:

• William S. Gyves, Esq.: 18.0 hours at $550.00 per hour or $9, 900.00
• James P. Flynn, Esq.: 10.2 hours at $495.00 per hour or $5, 049.00
• Robert M. Travisano, Esq.: 12.9 hours at $400.00 per ...

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