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Sheffield Metals Cleveland, LLC. v. Kevwitch

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

May 23, 2018

Sheffield Metals Cleveland, LLC. Plaintiff,
v.
Kimberly Kevwitch, et al., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER INTRODUCTION

          PATRICIA A. GAUGHAN UNITED STATES CHIEF JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon plaintiff's Motion for Contempt (Doc. 65) and Motion for Costs, Expenses, and Attorney's Fees (Doc. 66). For the following reasons, the Motion for Contempt is DENIED and the Motion for Costs, Expenses, and Attorney's Fees is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         Facts

         Plaintiff Sheffield M s Cleveland, LLC employed defendant Kimberly Kevwitch from March 4, 2013 until her termination on September 9, 2016. Defendant signed a Nondisclosure and Noncompetition Agreement (NDNC Agreement) as part of her employment. The NDNC Agreement provides in part: “I agree to reimburse the Company, Mazzella, and all subsidiaries of Mazzella for all reasonable expenses, fees and costs incurred in connection with a proceeding to enforce this Agreement, including reasonable attorneys' fees and related costs and expenses.” (¶ 7(b)). Upon termination, defendant signed a Confidential Separation Agreement and General Release (the Release). The Release provides in part that “any previous agreements concerning non-competition, non-solicitation, confidentiality, trade secrets or intellectual property will each remain in full force and effect to the extent that they are not inconsistent with this new Agreement.” (¶ 12)

         After accepting other employment, plaintiff's counsel, Fisher Phillips, wrote letters to defendant in February and March 2017 regarding her obligations under the NDNC Agreement and the Release. Defendant did not respond to the letters. On May 30, 2017, plaintiff filed this Verified Complaint for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction and Permanent Injunctive Relief and Other Causes of Action against defendant through its new counsel, Zashin & Rich. Kevwitch's employer, Drexel M s, Inc., was also named as a defendant but was subsequently voluntarily dismissed. The Complaint asserted three claims against Kevwitch: misappropriation of trade secrets (under federal and state law) and breach of contract. Ultimately, defendant asserted four counterclaims.

         On June 2, 2017, plaintiff and Kevwitch entered into an Agreed Temporary Restraining Order which was thereafter extended. After taking a limited deposition of defendant, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment relating to three of the counterclaims. The Court granted the plaintiff's motion, dismissing the three counterclaims. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the remaining claims and counterclaim after taking defendant's deposition a second time. The Court dismissed the misappropriation of trade secret claims and granted plaintiff's motion as to the breach of contract claim and the counterclaim. The Court ordered briefing on the issues of plaintiff's reasonable attorneys' fees, expenses, and costs as related to the breach of the contract, and whether defendant should be found to be in contempt for violating the court-ordered TRO.

         This matter is now before the Court upon plaintiff's Motion for Contempt and Motion fo Costs, Expenses, and Attorney's Fees. The Court will address the Motion for Costs, Expenses, and Attorney's Fees first.

         Discussion

         (1) Motion for Costs, Expenses, and Attorney's Fees

         (a) Taxable Costs

         Plaintiff seeks reimbursement of taxable expenses incurred (for which a Bill of Costs wa filed) in the amount of $2, 000.82 for the filing fee and depositions. Defendant does not oppose this request (Doc. 69 at 11). Those costs are granted.

         (b) Non-Taxable Expenses and Costs

         Plaintiff seeks non-taxable expenses and costs in the amount of $2, 895.57 for parking, travel, service of summons, and copying. Defendant objects to the travel expenses (in the amount of $1, 555.79) incurred in connection with the taking of defendant's second deposition which the parties had agreed would be taken by telephone. Otherwise, defendant does not object to the remaining expenses sought in the amount of $1, 339.78.

         As this Court determined in a previous Order (Doc. 44), the parties had agreed that the deposition was to take place telephonically and plaintiff's counsel was not entitled to reimbursement of the fees and costs incurred with the voluntary travel for the deposition. Therefore, non-taxable expenses and costs are awarded in the amount of $1, 339.78.

         (c) Attorneys' Fees

         Plaintiff seeks reimbursement of attorneys' fees in the amount of $155, 904.00 for services rendered by Zashin & Rich Co., L.P.A and $7, 852.50 for services rendered ...


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