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Hefter Impact Technologies, LLC v. Sport Maska, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 28, 2017

HEFTER IMPACT TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SPORT MASKA, INC. d/b/a REEBOK-CCM HOCKEY, Defendant.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS

          F. Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge.

         This is an action for breach of contract. Plaintiff Hefter Impact Technologies, LLC (“HIT”) alleges that defendant Sport Maska, Inc. (“CCM”) owes it royalties from the sales certain ice-hockey helmets allegedly based on HIT's designs.

         HIT filed a motion for sanctions for spoliation of evidence and discovery misconduct. That motion was granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, the Court held that although sanctions were not warranted, it was nonetheless reasonable under the circumstances for HIT to bring the motion, and the Court ordered CCM to pay HIT's reasonable attorneys' fees and costs related to the motion for sanctions.

         HIT has filed an application for fees and costs, requesting a total of $54, 152.61. CCM filed a response, contending that HIT is at most entitled to $12, 665.46. For the reasons stated below, the Court will award HIT $16, 219.83 in fees and costs.

         I. Background

         HIT's motion for sanctions for spoliation of evidence and discovery misconduct alleged, among other things, that CCM (1) destroyed e-mail after being notified of the litigation and (2) wiped the contents of employee Laura Gibson's laptop and discarded her handwritten notes.

         The Court ruled that while “CCM's response to the document production request was very far from ideal, ” the record did “not support a finding that any relevant e-mails were actually destroyed.” Mem. & Order on Pl.'s Mot. for Sanctions at 13. With respect to the laptop and notebooks, the Court found that there was at least a cursory effort to ensure that relevant evidence on the laptop was preserved prior to its being wiped, and that there was insufficient evidence to find that CCM acted intentionally to deprive HIT of evidence or that HIT would suffer prejudice.

         Nevertheless, the Court found:

[T]he combination of CCM's failure to preserve the notebooks, its somewhat lackadaisical approach to document production, and its aggressive document destruction policies has created substantial issues in this case. At a minimum, it has complicated the discovery process. Hefter's decision to bring this motion, although not ultimately successful, was an entirely reasonable response under the circumstances.
Accordingly, the sanction that the Court will impose is that CCM will be required to pay the reasonable attorneys' fees and costs HIT incurred in bringing this motion.

Id. at 16-17.

         HIT submitted an application for fees on August 25, 2017, supported by affidavits from attorneys Giovanni Ruscitti and Giles Krill, a list of time entries, a bill of costs incurred by the firm, and an invoice from the court reporter relating to the September 26-27, 2016 deposition of Laura Gibson.

         The time sheets reflect the practice of block billing-that is, each attorney's time entry for a given day contains only the total number of hours spent by that attorney on plaintiff's matter that day and does not break down the time spent on discrete tasks within that matter. Acknowledging this, for each entry reflecting work related to the sanctions motion billed together with other work, plaintiff's counsel has estimated the actual hours spent on the sanctions motion alone and has reduced the charge for that entry accordingly.

         In all, HIT seeks $9, 520 in legal fees associated with managing discovery disputes and preparing for and taking Laura Gibson's deposition (Ruscitti Aff. Ex. 1 at 28-50); $31, 755.50 in legal fees associated with preparing the motion for sanctions (Ruscitti Aff. Ex. 1 at 50-76); $6, 497.50 in legal fees associated with preparing the application for fees (Ruscitti Aff. Ex. 1 at 77-78); $6, 214.15 costs associated with the Gibson deposition (Ruscitti Aff. Ex. 2 at 3, 6-8); ...


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