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Boodram v. Coomes

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

February 28, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorney Fees [DN 268] and Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend Judgment [DN 270]. Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for decision.

         I. Background

         This lawsuit followed a failed business deal between Boodnarine ("Mike") Boodram and Ronald Glenn Coomes. In late 2010, Boodram and Coomes engaged in a series of agreements by which Coomes would sell his business, Philmo, Inc. ("Philmo"), to Boodram. The deal fell through by June 2011 and this lawsuit followed. The Court held a bench trial in Bowling Green, Kentucky from March 20 through March 23, 2018. After the trial, both parties submitted Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. On November 21, 2018, this Court entered a Judgment [DN 266] finding in favor of Plaintiffs and against Defendant Ron Coomes in the amount of $100, 000. Following the entry of judgment, the Plaintiffs filed two timely motions: first, a Motion for Attorneys Fees, and second, a Motion to Amend the Judgment. The Court will address each motion in turn.

         II. Motion for Attorney Fees

         The Plaintiffs have moved for attorney fees pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(2) and § 10.7 of the Stock Purchase Agreement (the "SPA"). The Sixth Circuit has stated, "Only attorney's fees provided for by statute or rule are governed by Rule 54(d)(2)(B)." Clarke v. Mindis Metals, Inc., No. 95-5517, 1996 WL 616677, at *28 (6th Cir. Oct. 24, 1996). On the other hand, "In cases where the substantive law provides for the recovery of fees as an element of damages, for instance whenever an attorney's fee provision is contained in a contract and not a statute, no motion need be made under Rule 54(d)(2)(A)." Id. at *25

         Because the Court did not find Coomes committed any fraud, there is no statute or rule that provides for the recovery of attorney fees, and a motion pursuant to Rule 54(d)(2)(B) is not necessary. However, § 10.7 of the SPA provides as follows:

         10.7 Attorney Fees. In the event an arbitration, suit or action is brought by any party under this Agreement to enforce any of its term, or in any appeal therefrom, it is agreed that the prevailing party shall be entitled to reasonable attorneys fees to be fixed by the arbitrator, trial court, and/or appellate court.

         The Court did not award attorney fees under this contract provision for two reasons. First, Plaintiffs did not bring this suit to enforce the terms of the SPA. Instead, Plaintiffs advanced other claims but not claims based on the SPA. The Court ultimately found the SPA controlling, but despite that finding, the plain language of § 10.7 only allows attorneys fees to be paid to a prevailing party who brought suit to enforce the terms of the SPA. Plaintiffs do not fit into that category. Not only did Plaintiffs not sue to enforce the terms of the SPA, they cannot be considered prevailing parties. While a party need not prevail on all issues to be deemed a prevailing party, the Plaintiffs did not prevail on any of their claims. Yes, the Court awarded a judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs, but considering the claims asserted and the damages sought, a decent argument can be made that the Defendant prevailed in this action, not the Plaintiffs. Therefore, Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorney Fees is DENIED.

         III. Motion to Amend Judgment

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) permits a court to "alter or amend" its prior judgment for one of four reasons: "(1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice." Schlaud v. Snyder, 785 F.3d 1119, 1124 (6th Cir. 2015) (citations omitted). However, Rule 59(e) is not intended to be used to '"relitigate issues previously considered' or to 'submit evidence which in the exercise of reasonable diligence, could have been submitted before.'" United States v. Abernathy, No. 08-20103, 2009 WL 55011, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 7, 2009) (citation omitted); see also Elec. Ins. Co. v. Freudenberg-Nok, Gen P"ship, 487 F.Supp.2d 894, 902 (W.D. Ky. 2007) ("Such motions are not an opportunity for the losing party to offer additional arguments in support of its position."). Motions to alter or amend judgments under Rule 59(e) "are extraordinary and sparingly granted." Marshall v. Johnson, No. 3.07-CV-171, 2007 WL 1175046, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 19. 2007).

         In this case, Plaintiffs ask that the Court amend the judgment in three aspects - to include an award of prejudgment interest, the names of the Plaintiffs, and attorney fees. With respect to attorney fees, the Motion is DENIED for the reasons stated above. The Court will consider the other issues below.

         Prejudgment Interest

         Kentucky follows the Restatement when it comes to prejudgment interest. Nucor Corp v. General Electric Co., 812 S.W.2d 136, 144 (Ky. 1991). "If the breach consists of a failure to pay a definite sum of money or render a performance with fixed or ascertainable monetary value, interest is recoverable from the time for performance on the amount due less all deductions to which the party in breach is entitled." Restatement (Second) of Contracts ยง 354. In other words, prejudgment interest is awarded on claims ...

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