Special Master Poppiti Recommends Reduction of Sanctions Award

In Apeldyn Corp. v. AU Optronics Corp., C.A. No. 08-568-SLR (D. Del. Aug. 29, 2011), Special Master Poppiti recently recommended that plaintiff’s requested sanctions award be reduced from $89,747.54 to $47,241.54. Id. at 1. In determining the adequacy of documentation of Apeldyn’s fees associated with responding to an untimely expert report, the Special Master first noted that although “the descriptor ‘worked on’ [in attorney timekeeping records] is vague in and of itself, as it fails to convey to the reader the precise task being performed by the timekeeper[,]” the declarations at issue included “[a]mple description of specific tasks[.]” Id. at 14. The Special Master did, however, exclude from the lodestar calculation as inadequately documented all of the hours that “group[ed] together duplicative and non-duplicative tasks[.]” Id. at 16. The Special Master further excluded from the lodestar calculation (1) excessive hours in connection with responding to the untimely expert report in light of the fact “that approximately 70% of the [responsive report] is duplicative–in most instances word-for-word–of [the expert’s] earlier reports[,]” and (2) the hours of an attorney whose “role, it seem[ed], was to provide backup support” because the tasks he performed were “entirely duplicative of work already done by [other attorneys].” Id. at 17-19.

Next, addressing Apeldyn’s fees in connection with bringing the sanctions motion, Special Master Poppiti stated that the motion “did not involve complex issues of law, and Apeldyn did not cite any case law in its letter briefs, indicating that intensive legal research was not done.” Id. at 21. Thus, “[g]iven the straightforward issues involved, the brevity of the letter briefs, and the absence of case law in the briefs,” the Special Master excluded all excessive hours from the lodestar calculation. Id. at 21-22.

Finally, Special Master Poppiti stated that “Apeldyn is not entitled to receive reimbursement for fees or costs incurred in connection with preparing the June 27 Bill of Costs” because “Apeldyn did not request such fees in its first submittal on June 27, 2011” and therefore “Apeldyn . . . waived any opportunity it once might have had to seek reimbursement for such fees.” Id. at 24. Further, Apeldyn’s “June 27 Bill of Costs lacked sufficient documentation[,]” and thus “it would be unfair to reward Apeldyn for preparing what the Special Master concluded to be a deficient submittal.” Id. at 24-25.

Apeldyn Corp. v. AU Optronics Corp., C.A. No. 08-568-SLR (D. Del. Aug. 29, 2011)

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