United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff CalMat Co.'s
Amended Motion for Attorneys' Fees, Costs, and Expenses
(Amended Motion), filed on January 6, 2017. (Doc. 82).
Defendant Oldcastle Precast, Inc. (Oldcastle) filed a
response on January 20, 2017, and Defendant Kraft Americas
Holding, Inc. (KAHI) filed a response on February 1, 2017.
(Docs. 88 and 97). Plaintiff CalMat Co. (CalMat) filed
replies to these responses on February 6, 2017, and February
17, 2017. (Docs. 100 and 107). Having reviewed the Amended
Motion and the accompanying briefs, the Court grants the
Amended Motion in part in that it will award CalMat $25,
282.50 (plus the applicable gross receipts tax) in
attorneys' fees and $738.75 in costs, which will both be
payable from the interpleaded fund.
February 1999, American Building Supply, Inc. agreed to pay
royalty payments to Defendant Kraft Americas, L.P. (Kraft
L.P.) for aggregate mined in New Mexico. (Doc. 1) at ¶
4); (Doc. 4-1). Days after entering into the royalty
agreement with American Building Supply, Inc., Kraft L.P.
apparently assigned its interest in the royalty agreement to
KAHI, thereby allegedly making KAHI the sole beneficiary of
the royalty agreement. (Docs. 1-3 and 1-4).
2011, Inland Concrete Enterprises, Inc. Employee Stock
Ownership Plan (Inland Concrete) obtained a default judgment
in the United States District Court for the Central District
of California against Kraft L.P., and pro se
Defendant Rune Kraft (Kraft) in the amount of $3, 808, 483.00
plus interest of 0.18% per annum. (Doc. 1) in MC No. 15-33
WJ; (Doc. 1) at ¶¶ 5 and 10.
2015, CalMat succeeded to the interests of American Building
Supply, Inc. (Doc. 1) at ¶ 2; (Doc. 9) at 1. CalMat,
therefore, is obligated under the 1999 agreement to pay
royalty payments. CalMat contends that it, indeed, paid the
royalty payments to “Kraft Americas.” (Doc. 9) at
¶ 2 in MC No.15-33 WJ.
2015, Inland Concrete filed in this District Court a
Certification of Judgment for Registration in Another
District. (Doc. 1) in MC No.15-33 WJ. Inland Concrete then
assigned its interest in the default judgment to Oldcastle.
(Doc. 1) at ¶ 1. In August 2015, the Court issued a Writ
of Garnishment naming CalMat as garnishee and Kraft L.P. as
the judgment debtor. (Docs. 3 and 4) in MC No.15-33 WJ.
who claims to be the sole beneficiary of the royalty
agreement, contends that CalMat cannot garnish the royalty
payments owed to KAHI because KAHI is not the judgment
debtor. Oldcastle, however, argues that Kraft L.P.'s
assignment of the royalty agreement interest to KAHI is
invalid and fraudulent, and that KAHI and Kraft L.P. are, in
fact, a single entity owned and managed by Kraft. Hence,
Oldcastle concludes that the royalty agreement proceeds are
subject to garnishment by virtue of Kraft L.P., as the
judgment debtor, still being the sole beneficiary of the
as a disinterested stakeholder at risk of suffering multiple
liabilities from an erroneous distribution of the royalty
proceeds, filed this interpleader action in January 2016,
naming as Defendants Oldcastle, Kraft L.P., pro se
Kraft, KAHI, and John Does 1-5. About two weeks after CalMat
filed the interpleader action, the Court stayed the
garnishment action pending the outcome of this interpleader
action. (Doc. 8) in MC No.15-33 WJ.
October 5, 2016, the Court (1) ordered that the royalty
payments be interpleaded into the Court registry, (2)
discharged CalMat from any liability in connection with the
payment of the proceeds under the royalty agreement so long
as CalMat pays those proceeds into the Court registry
pursuant to the royalty agreement and the Court's order,
(3) excused CalMat from further participation as a litigant
except to make the recurring royalty payments into the Court
registry, (4) granted CalMat's request for an award of
reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred in bringing
the interpleader lawsuit, and (5) determined that those fees
and costs would be paid from the interpleaded funds. (Doc.
55) at 12. Because CalMat had not, at that time, filed any
documentation from which the Court could determine the amount
of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs CalMat incurred
in bringing the interpleader action, the Court ordered CalMat
to file a motion for attorneys' fees and costs with
“a supporting brief, affidavits, and time records to
support such an award….” Id. at 11.
October 31, 2016, CalMat filed its first motion for
attorneys' fees and costs. (Doc. 61). On December 23,
2016, the Court denied that motion without prejudice to
CalMat filing an amended motion for an award of
attorneys' fees and costs. (Doc. 78). The Court denied
the first motion for attorneys' fees and costs for two
important reasons. First, CalMat did not support its
assertion of reasonable attorney rates ($395 per hour for
Douglas Vadnais and $205 per hour for Cristina Mulcahy) with
a relevant affidavit. Id. at 3. Second, CalMat
failed to provide time records to prove the expenditure of
reasonable hours. Id. at 3-5.
discussing the first motion for attorneys' fees and
costs, the Court also determined that CalMat is entitled only
to attorneys' fees and costs associated with bringing the
interpleader lawsuit, and not to attorneys' fees and
costs associated with bringing the underlying garnishment
case. Id. at 3. Moreover, to protect any privileged
attorney-client information in the time records, the Court
required that an amended motion for an award of
attorneys' fees and costs provide “properly
redacted time records….” Id. at 5.
the inception of the interpleader case to the October 5,
2016, order requiring that the royalty payments be
interpleaded and excusing CalMat from further participation
as a litigant, CalMat's activities in the interpleader
case included responding to a motion to dismiss filed by
Kraft and Kraft L.P., and to a motion for summary judgment
filed by KAHI. (Docs. 16, 21, and 27). In addition, CalMat
responded to various pro se filings by Kraft. (Docs.
38, 39, 47, and 53).
the Court excused CalMat from further participation as a
litigant, CalMat, nonetheless, continued to participate as a
litigant. Aside from the motions for attorneys' fees and
costs, which the Court directed CalMat to file and brief,
CalMat apparently participated in formulating the Joint
Status Report and Provisional Discovery Plan (JSR), attended
the Scheduling Conference, filed a motion to strike
Kraft's “Notices, ” and attended a February
28, 2017, status conference. (Docs. 64, 67, 111, 113, 117, and
118). The Court ultimately dismissed the interpleader
complaint against Kraft, entered an adverse judgment against
Kraft, L.P., and dismissed Kraft, L.P. (Doc. 57 and 126).
The Amended Motion
submitted with its Amended Motion an affidavit by William
Keleher, a qualified Albuquerque, New Mexico, attorney, who
attests that the hourly rate requested by Vadnais of $395 per
hour and the hourly rate requested by Mulcahy of $205 per
hour “are well within the scope of reasonable and
prevailing market rates charged by attorneys in New Mexico
with similar experience.” (Doc. 82-3) at ¶ 18.
Like Keleher, Vadnais and Mulcahy are Albuquerque attorneys.
CalMat also submitted redacted time records, an affidavit by
Vadnais, and documentation related to costs.
claims that from the inception of this interpleader lawsuit
to the time it filed the first motion for attorneys' fees
and costs on October 31, 2016, Vadnais reasonably worked 58.9
hours and Mulcahy worked 73.1 hours for a total of $38,
214.50 in attorneys' fees. (Doc. 82) at 3. CalMat further
claims that it is entitled to attorneys' fees and costs
incurred after it filed the first motion for attorneys'
fees and costs to the present. Those attorneys' fees
amount to an additional $14, 317.50 which represents 18.3
hours of work by Vadnais and 28.8 hours of work by Mulcahy.