Bores v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, Civ. No. 05-2498 (RHK/JSM) (D. Minn. 10/27/2008)
RICHARD H. KYLE, United States District Judge
Franchisees brought a breach of contract action against Domino’s Pizza. It appears they lost on summary judgment, which Domino’s, though the victor, appealed and, at the Eighth Circuit, the Appeals Court held that Domino’s motion to dismiss at the start of the litigation should have been granted.
Domino’s sought attorneys’ fees against the franchisee-plaintiffs pursuant to a fee-shifting provision in the franchise agreement. Domino’s sought $1.2 million in legal fees. Judge Kyle knocked that down to less then half that: $450,000 pointing out, among other things, that Domino’s used a DC fifth year associate who billed out at $480/hour when its local counsel, a Gray Plant partner with 20 years of franchise law experience, charged $425/hour.
Takeaway: (1) courts in this region consistently give a very hard look at attorneys’ fees claims; (2) Minnesota courts tend to be proud of the Minnesota bar (justifiably, if I say so myself) and will often look askance at the fee requests for out-of-town high-priced hired guns (perhaps particularly junior lawyers charging local market partner rates).