Harris v. Fairweather

U.S. DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Attorney Fees

New York Law Journal

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Judge P. Kevin Castel

The court struck Fairweather's answer as a sanction for willful noncompliance in Harris' Lanham Act suit over ownership of Bronx tax preparation firm PPH Tax & Accounting Inc.'s trademark. Following default's entry, a magistrate judge recommended that Harris be awarded injunctive relief and $261,866 in damages and attorney fees. The court adopted the magistrate judge's recommendation over both parties' objections. As to the recommendation that Harris be denied $120,000 in "future damages" under New York law permit, the court found Harris' asserted entitlement to future damages wholly speculative. However, the proposed legal fee award was fully adopted. In addition to $134,400 in damages reflecting Harris' profits for 2011 and 2012, the court awarded her $59,912 in legal fees. While noting that Harris' lawyers charged her a reasonable $250 hourly rate, the court found that a reasonable client could comfortably agree to the $74,890 billing arrangement explained by Harris' counsel. Counsel said that the fee arrangement arose from its past relationship with Harris. Agreeing to the magistrate judge's 20 percent reduction to $59,912, the court noted inconsistencies in the record in support of the fee application.

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