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Equitable Partners v. OneWest Bank, FSB

United States District Court, D. Utah

July 31, 2018

EQUITABLE PARTNERS, L.C.; a.k.a. KIRK CAMERON, Plaintiff,
v.
ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS

          TED STEWART JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant OneWest Bank's (“OneWest”) Application for Attorneys' Fees and Costs. The Court previously awarded contractual attorneys' fees and costs to OneWest and must now determine the amount to be awarded. For the following reasons, the Court will award attorneys' fees and costs in the amount $14, 910.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 5, 2017, after years of nonpayment on a loan, Plaintiff filed this action to quiet title against OneWest in state court, arguing that he did not know that OneWest was assigned the mortgage and had not received a notice of payment or delinquency. On October 5, 2017, the action was removed to this Court, and OneWest moved to dismiss the Complaint. Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint and OneWest filed another motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).

         The Court granted OneWest's Motion to Dismiss on April 3, 2018, and awarded contractual attorneys' fees and costs to OneWest pursuant to the Deed of Trust in which Plaintiff agreed to reimburse all expenses “incurred by Lender in collecting, enforcing or protecting Lender's rights and remedies under this Security Instrument.”[1] Those expenses explicitly include “reasonable attorney's fees, court costs, and other legal expenses.”[2]

         OneWest filed an Application for Attorneys' Fees and Costs seeking $14, 910. However, the briefing of OneWest's Application provided little evidence to support the parties' proposed hourly rates. Therefore, the Court requested additional evidence on this point. OneWest provided the Court with additional evidence to support its fees, but Plaintiff did not.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Utah law, [3] once the court determines that a party is entitled to attorneys' fees, “it acquire[s] broad discretion in determining what constitutes a reasonable attorney fee under . . . the contract.”[4] In determining a reasonable fee, courts should answer the following questions:

1. What legal work was actually performed?
2. How much of the work performed was reasonably necessary to adequately [defend] the matter?
3. Is the attorney's billing rate consistent with the rates customarily charged in the locality for similar services?
4. Are there circumstances which require consideration of additional factors, including those listed in the Code of Professional Responsibility?[5]

         The Court may also consider “the amount involved in the case and the result attained, and the expertise and experience of the attorneys involved.”[6]

         III. DISCUSSION

         OneWest requests a total of $14, 505 in attorneys' fees and $405 in costs for 41.4 hours of work. According to the affidavit and supporting documents provided by OneWest, two attorneys, a partner, and an associate, worked on OneWest's defense. The partner billed fourteen hours at $400 per hour, and the associate billed 27.4 hours at $325 per hour.[7] The costs are not disputed, but the reasonableness of the hours ...


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