United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND FINDINGS
B. SIMANDLE U.S. District Judge
matter comes before the Court on the unopposed motion for
attorneys' fees and costs [Docket Item 28] filed by
Plaintiffs John Parise, Michael Parise, and Copper Beech
Financial Group, LLC (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”). For the reasons discussed below,
the Court will enter Judgment in favor of Plaintiffs jointly
and against Defendants Alex E. Suarez (“Suarez”),
Family Office Partners, Inc. (“FOP, Inc.”),
Family Office Partners, LLC (“FOP, LLC”),
Merchantbanquiers Club, Inc., and Private Borrowers Club II,
LLC (collectively, “Defendants”), jointly and
severally, in the amount of $15, 001.90. The Court finds as
Court previously granted in part and denied in part
Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment. Parise v.
Suarez, 2018 WL 6705678 (D.N.J. Dec. 19, 2018). As relevant
here to awarding attorneys' fees and costs, the Court
Plaintiffs seek costs and attorneys' fees in relation to
this matter. The September 15, 2016 Agreement does not appear
to provide for the recovery of attorneys' fees or costs
in the event of litigation arising from the agreements. Under
Georgia law, however, “where the plaintiff has
specifically pleaded and has made prayer therefore and where
the defendant has acted in bad faith, has been stubbornly
litigious, or has caused the plaintiff unnecessary trouble
and expense, the jury may allow them.”
Id. at *6 (quoting O.C.G.A. § 13-5-11); see
also Paul v. Destito, 550 S.E.2d 739, 749 (Ga.Ct.App. 2001).
The Court found that Defendant Alex E. Suarez “has
taken rather elaborate steps to attempt to delay and obstruct
the normal resolution of this case, ” as detailed in
Parise v. Suarez, 2018 WL 3756427 (D.N.J. Aug. 8, 2018), and
“has acted in bad faith.” Parise, 2018 WL
6705678, at *6-7. The four entity Defendants - FOP, Inc.,
FOP, LLC, Merchantbanquiers Club, Inc., and Private Borrowers
Club II, LLC - have similarly acted in bad faith by directing
attorney Christian J. Jensen, Esq. to file a letter with the
Honorable Joel B. Schneider, U.S.M.J., requesting an
extension for all defendant corporate entities to respond to
the Complaint, which was granted, extending the deadline as
to the corporate Defendants to December 22, 2017 [Docket Item
7], only to never respond to the Complaint nor otherwise be
heard from again. Parise, 2018 WL 6705678, at *1.
Accordingly, the Court awarded attorneys' fees to
Plaintiffs and permitted them to, consistent with Rule
54(d)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P., apply for attorneys' fees and
costs within fourteen days of entry of the Judgment.
Id. at *7.
Plaintiffs timely filed a motion for attorneys' fees and
costs [Docket Item 28], which includes an Affidavit of
Services signed by Attorney Ronald DeSimone, Esq. [Docket
Item 28-2 at 2-6] and a copy of the Retainer Agreement
between Law Offices of Ronald DeSimone and Plaintiffs.
[Id. at 13-16.] Plaintiffs served this motion upon
Defendant Alex E. Suarez and the four related entity
Defendants by regular and certified mail [Docket Item 28 at
2], and no opposition has been received.
According to Mr. DeSimone's Affidavit, between June 22,
2017 and December 31, 2018, he billed Plaintiffs for 46.97
hours of work at an hourly rate of $300 per hour.
[Id. at 3-6.] Upon careful review of Plaintiffs'
submission, which includes a day-by-day, itemized record of
the work Mr. DeSimone performed on Plaintiffs' behalf,
the Court finds the billing rate to be reasonable and
consistent with the norm for such services in this region,
see, e.g., Fed. Trade Comm'n v. Circa Direct LLC, 912
F.Supp.2d 165, 174 (D.N.J. 2012) (finding reasonable hourly
rates of $400 for senior partners), and that Mr.
DeSimone's time spent was well-documented, reasonable,
and necessarily incurred in prosecuting Plaintiffs'
rights in this case. Accordingly, the Court finds
Plaintiffs' request for fees in the amount of $14, 091.00
to be reasonable and fair.
Plaintiffs also seek reimbursement for certain
“costs” incurred in this litigation. [Docket Item
28-2 at 6.] Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 and 28 U.S.C.
§ 1920 generally permit taxation of the following costs:
(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts
necessarily obtained for use in the case;
(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;
(4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies
of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained
for use in the case;
(5) Docket fees under section 1923 of this title [28 U.S.C.
§ 1923]; and
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of
interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of
special interpretation services under section 1828 of ...