The Federal District Court, District of Hawaii, overruled the insured's objections to the Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations awarding partial fees. Hanover Ins. Co. v. Anova Food, LLC, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEIXS 11493 (D. Haw. Jan. 24, 2018).
A prior post set forth the background of the case. In a prior opinion, the court denied pre-tender defense fees to the insured, but found there were genuine issues of material fact regarding post-tender fees.
Subsequently, Anova filed another motion for its post-tender fees. The Magistrate Judge recommended that Anova be awarded $126,321.59 in attorneys' fees and $9,930.49 in costs. Anova filed an Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations, seeking a total of $539,077.78 in fees and costs.
Florida law applied. A Florida statute provided that after judgment against an insurer, the trial court was to award against the insurer and in favor or the insured a reasonable sum of fees for prosecuting the suit in which recovery was had. Earlier in the case, the court had found that Hanover had a duty to defend Anova in the underlying case and that Hanover had breached its contract with Anova. The court denied, however, Anova's counterclaim for bad faith.
Now, Anova objected to the reduced award of fees and costs recommended by the Magistrate Judge. The Florida statute also provided that the attorneys' fees awarded to the prevailing party should be reduced if its success was limited. Although Anova prevailed on the issue of providing a defense, the period of time for which Anova was entitled to a defense was limited to post-tender fees. Further, Anova was not awarded a substantial portion of the fees it sought in the underlying litigation. Anova was also unsuccessful on its claim seeking to recoup the money it contributed to the settlement of the underlying lawsuit. Finally, Anova did not prevail on its counterclaim for bad faith.
The Findings and Recommendations also identified that Anova was responsible for increasing its own attorneys fees. Anova devoted numerous hours to repeating unsuccessful arguments and seeking reconsideration of issues after the District Court had ruled. The court also agreed with the reduction of the lodestar by 50% recommended by the Magistrate Judge considering the relationship between the fee requested and the extent of Anova's success in the action.
Consequently, the Objections to the Findings and Recommendations were overruled.