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St. Jude Medical SC, Inc. v. Tormey

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 29, 2014

St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc., a Minnesota corporation, Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
Thomas M. Tormey, Jr., Defendant and Counterclaim Plaintiff, and Tormedco, Inc., Counterclaim Plaintiff.

ORDER

MICHAEL J. DAVIS, Chief Diastrict Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees and costs. [Doc. No. 243]

I. Background

Plaintiff St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc. ("St. Jude") brought this action against Defendant Thomas M. Tormey, Jr. ("Tormey") to seek repayment on a business loan. Thereafter, Tormey and Tormedco, Inc. asserted a number of counterclaims against St. Jude. The matter went to trial, and the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Thereafter, St. Jude moved for judgment as a matter of law as to its contract claim and all counterclaims. The motion was granted, and judgment was entered in favor of St. Jude in the amount of $650, 000 plus statutory interest in the amount of $192, 543.70, with interest accruing in the amount of $106.85 per day. [Doc. Nos. 240 and 241]

St. Jude brings this motion for costs and attorneys' fees pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1) and (2). St. Jude further asserts that under Minnesota law, attorneys' fees are recoverable where there is a specific contract permitting such recovery. Dunn v. Natl'l Bev. Corp. , 745 N.W.2d 549, 554 (Minn. 2008). In this case, there are two contracts between the parties that provide in the event of default, both reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred in enforcing rights arising thereunder are recoverable. (Pl. Tr. Ex. 1 (Loan Agreement at ¶ 3); Pl. Tr. Ex. 3 (Representative Agreement at ¶ 21.5).)

As the prevailing party, St. Jude asserts it is entitled to its reasonable attorneys' fees in the amount of $520, 511 and to its nontaxable costs in the amount of $95, 235.77, for a total award of $615, 746.77.

Tormey requests the Court deny St. Jude's motion, or in the alternative, substantially reduce the requested award of fees and costs.

II. Analysis

A. Prevailing Party

Tormey argues that he never disputed the valid creation of the loan and promissory note. Instead, this lawsuit was about whether the counterclaims asserted under the Representative Agreement would prevail so as to bar collection on the note or offset the loan amount by a damage award. Tormey argues that St. Jude cannot establish that it is the prevailing party under the Representative Agreement as this Court ultimately dismissed his counterclaims as time-barred, without ruling on the merits of such claims. The Court disagrees.

In determining whether a party is a prevailing party, the Court looks to the general result of the action, and who, "in the view of the law, succeeded in the action. The prevailing party in any action is one in whose favor the decision or verdict is rendered and judgment entered." Riser v. Minneapolis Pub. Hous. Auth., No. A04-11, 2004 WL 2050550 at *2 (Minn.Ct.App. 2004) (quoting Borchert v. Maloney , 581 N.W.2d 838, 840 (Minn. 1998)). Here, St. Jude is the prevailing party as judgment has been entered in St. Jude's favor. Accordingly, St. Jude is entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to the terms of the Loan Agreement.

B. Reasonable Attorneys' Fees

A proper method for determining a reasonable attorneys' fee award is referred to as the lodestar method. Fish v. St. Cloud State Univ. , 295 F.3d 849, 851 (8th Cir. 2012). This method requires the Court to multiply the reasonable amount of hours spent on the case by a reasonable hourly amount. Id . The resulting figure may be adjusted at the discretion of the Court after considering factors relevant to the case, including:

the experience and ability of the attorney, the time and labor required to perform the legal service properly, the amount involved in the case and the results obtained, the novelty and difficulty of the issues involved, the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services, whether the fee is fixed or contingent, the time limitations imposed upon the client or by the circumstances, and the likelihood, if apparent ...

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