In Colonial River Wealth Advisors, LLC v. Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., No. 3:22cv717, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3058 (E.D. Va. Jan. 5, 2024), Judge Young granted the prevailing defendant’s fee petition, awarded $227,357 in attorneys’ fees, and concluded that block billing records provided by the defendant’s counsel “sufficiently permit[ed] the Court to assess the hours expended and the nature of the work completed.” Judge Young rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the block billing practices made it impossible to determine which attorneys’ fees were reasonable. Judge Young acknowledged that, though no per se rule against block billing exists, “in some instances, block billing may inhibit a court from accurately assessing the reasonableness of a fee request,” where lumped fee entries lacked sufficient detail and obscured the amount of time actually spent on the billed-for tasks. When block billing prevents the assessment of the reasonableness of the fees, a reduction of the fee award is appropriate. But in the case of the defendant’s fee petition, Judge Young was able to assess the reasonableness of the fee request, given the level of detail in the defendant’s counsel’s time entry descriptions. Using one example, the court noted that one 8.3 hour entry encompassed 11 discrete tasks, including review of a 309-page deposition transcript, the document production of another party, documents for use in upcoming deposition, and motion to quash various subpoenas. The court found it not unreasonable for the defendant’s counsel to have spent 8.3 hours on those tasks.
A long line of cases in the EDVA demonstrates that defendants seeking to transfer venue out of the EDVA under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) face an uphill climb if the plaintiff is a Virginia resident.
In a case involving a fact pattern that could be on a law school exam, EDVA Judge Mark Davis provides a detailed analysis of a series of issues in a complex dispute between a yacht owner and a marine engine manufacturer. What Hurts, LLC v. Volvo Penta of the Americas, LLC, Civil Action No. 2:22cv552, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3063 (E.D.Va. Jan. 4, 2024)
One issue a patent owner faces when attempting to enforce its patent is the notice given to a potential infringer. By sending a demand letter to a potential infringer, a patentee runs the risk of creating a basis for a declaratory judgment action for noninfringement. If the demand letter accuses the recipient of infringement, for example, the accused infringer can file a declaratory judgment action in a federal district court of its choosing, thus depriving the patentee of the ability to choose where suit is filed.
It is not uncommon for plaintiffs based in the United States to bring claims against foreign parties in U.S. federal courts to obtain a favorable venue and avoid any bias in foreign courts in favor of local defendants. A recent decision by Judge Brinkema in the EDVA involving a contract dispute between a U.S. company and a Saudi Arabian shipyard and the Saudi Ports Authority, however, demonstrates the limits of that strategy.