Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Myers v. Aitkin County

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 27, 2017

MISTY KAY MYERS, Plaintiff,
v.
AITKIN COUNTY, CITY OF BAXTER, CASS COUNTY, CITY OF CHASKA, CITY OF CROSBY, CROW WING COUNTY, MCLEOD COUNTY, MILLE LACS COUNTY, CITY OF NISSWA, CITY OF PEQUOT LAKES, CITY OF WAITE PARK, JOHN DOES 1-100, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY DOES 1-30, ENTITY DOES 1-30, JANE DOES 1-100, CENTRAL MINNESOTA COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS, CHUCK EVERSON, JENNIFER TWOMBLY, SHANNON WUSSOW, SCOTT HEIDE, KARRI TURCOTTE, JESSICA TURNER, KELLI GOTVALD, GENE HILL, MELISSA SATERBAK, and JONATHAN COLLINS, Defendants.

          Jonathan A. Strauss, Lorenz F. Fett, Jr., and Sonia L. Miller-Van Oort, SAPIENTIA LAW GROUP PLLC, for plaintiff.

          Jon K. Iverson, Susan M. Tindal, and Stephanie A. Angolkar, IVERSON REUVERS CONDON, for defendants City of Waite Park, Jonathan Collins, and Gene Hill.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM Chief Judge United States District Court

         In February 2014, Plaintiff Misty Kay Myers filed an action primarily alleging multiple defendants - including Defendant City of Waite Park - violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”) by permitting illegal accesses of her driver's license information. (Compl. ¶¶ 24, 106-09, Feb. 20, 2014, Docket No. 1.) Subsequently, in October 2015, Myers amended her complaint to add Defendants Johnathan Collins, a Waite Park's Police Department employee, and Gene Hill, an Isanti County employee, [1]for impermissibly accessing Myers's information. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 43, 46, 126-27, 152-53, Oct. 9, 2015, Docket No. 68.)

         In July 2016, Myers entered into an agreement releasing her DPPA claims against several entities and agents - including Defendants City of Waite Park, Collins, and Hill (collectively “Defendants”) - for $4, 500. (Aff. of Stephanie A. Angolkar, Ex. 2 (“General Release”) at 1-2, Aug. 29, 2016, Docket No. 165.) The General Release provides that Myers could petition the Court for “reasonable attorney's fees and costs” from the discharged parties. (Id. at 1.) Pursuant to that provision, Myers promptly petitioned for $32, 835.50 in attorney's fees and $3, 774.89 in costs for prosecuting her claims against Waite Park and Collins. (See Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. at 7-8, Aug. 15, 2016, Docket No. 145.) Defendants jointly opposed Myers' motion and argued Myers's recoverable amount should be reduced for a multitude of reasons.

         On November 30, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the Court grant in part and deny in part Myers's motion. Specifically, the Magistrate Judge recommended awarding Myers $1, 097.25 in costs and $15, 912.44[2] in attorney's fees, for a total award of $17, 009.69. (R&R at 43, Nov. 30, 2016, Docket No. 187.) Myers timely objected to two portions of the entire R&R - (1) the denial of $2, 677.64 in expert costs, and (2) the denial of multiple attorneys' time billed by for intra-firm conferences. (Pl.'s Objs. to R&R at 5, Dec. 14, 2016, Docket No. 188.)

         The Court will adopt in part and reject in part the Magistrate Judge's R&R. Due to the absence of language authorizing recovery for expert costs in 18 U.S.C. § 2724(b)(3), the Court will overrule Myers's expert costs objection and adopt the Magistrate Judge's R&R. However, because of the discretion afforded to the Court in determining the reasonableness of hours billed and the nature of the claims at issue, the Court will sustain Myers's objection for time billed for intra-firm conferences and will reject this portion of the Magistrate Judge's R&R. In all other respects, the Court will adopt the R&R.

         DISCUSSION

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Upon the filing of a report and recommendation by a magistrate judge, a party may “file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(1). “The objections should specify the portions of the magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which objections are made and provide a basis for those objections.” Mayer v. Walvatne, No. 07-1958, 2008 WL 4527774, at *2 (D. Minn. Sept. 28, 2008).

         For dispositive motions, the Court reviews de novo any portion of an R&R “that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). Because a motion for attorney fees is a dispositive motion, the Court will review portions of the R&R that Myers objected to de novo.

         II. EXPERT COSTS

         The Magistrate Judge noted that there was no case within the Eighth Circuit addressing the recoverability of expert costs in a DPPA case, and he concluded that Myers's request for $2, 677.64 in expert costs were not recoverable because the DPPA - unlike other statutes - does not explicitly authorize the recovery of expenses associated with compensating experts. (R&R at 38, 41-42.) Myers objects, arguing that expert costs are recoverable under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2724(b)(3) and (b)(4). Section 2724(b)(3) provides that in a DPPA case, the Court may award “reasonable attorneys' fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.” Myers asserts § 2724(b)(4), which provides that the Court may award “equitable relief as the court determines to be appropriate, ” implicitly authorizes the Court to award expert costs as “other litigation costs reasonably incurred” under § 2724(b)(3).

         The Court declines to construe § 2724(b)(3) as implicitly authorizing recovery of expert costs, where other fee-shifting statutes explicitly authorize the recovery of expert fees. See, e.g., 33 U.S.C. § 1365(d) (“The court . . . may award costs of litigation (including reasonable attorney and expert witness fees) . . . .”); 54 U.S.C.A. § 307105 (“[T]he court may award attorney's fees, expert witness fees, and other costs of participating in the civil action, as the court considers reasonable.”); Menghi v. Hart, 745 F.Supp.2d 89, 115 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) (declining to award expert costs under § 2724(b)(3) because “[p]laintiff ha[d] not provided any legal authority to address the principle that if Congress intended to allow recovery of expert witness fees, it should have explicitly provided for that recovery in the statute”). Furthermore, Myers's position regarding § 2724(b)(4) is unpersuasive as “equitable relief” does not generally involve actions for money damages, see Mertens v. Hewitt Assocs., 508 U.S. 248, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.