Shapiro Arato “Rocs” Attorneys’ Fee Awards

On August 29, 2016, Southern District Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis awarded Shapiro Arato’s clients over $8,000 in attorney’s fees arising from plaintiff Dwayne Walker and his counsel’s refusal to produce discoverable text messages in connection with the plaintiff’s lawsuit regarding the Roc-A-Fella Records logo.

Judge Ellis initially granted Shapiro Arato’s motion for sanctions on behalf of clients UMG Recordings, Inc., The Island Def Jam Music Group, and Roc-A-Fella Records, LLC in December 2015. Judge Ellis found that plaintiff’s counsel had acted “unreasonably and vexatiously” in not producing responsive text messages, in particular, by repeatedly by repeatedly misrepresenting whether the text messages existed and why they were not produced, withholding the production of certain text messages until after relevant depositions had concluded, and violating a Court order compelling the texts’ production. Judge Ellis’s August 29 opinion and order reiterated that plaintiff’s counsel was sanctioned for this unreasonable delay in production and for his violation of a Court order. Judge Ellis awarded over $8,000 in attorney’s fees to reflect costs incurred in filing two motions to compel, seeking court intervention after plaintiff’s counsel’s refusal to comply with the Court’s order, and filing the motion for sanctions.

Similarly, on September 9, 2016, U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield granted Shapiro Arato’s motion for attorneys’ fees on behalf of client Roc Nation, LLC, the entertainment company founded by rap artist and entrepreneur Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z. Sound engineer Chauncey Mahan named Roc Nation as a defendant in an unsuccessful suit seeking a declaratory judgment that he possessed copyright interests in albums published by Carter and his label in 1999 and 2000. The district court granted Shapiro Arato’s motion to dismiss, and the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal, deeming the plaintiff’s appeal “frivolous.” On remand, Judge Schofield awarded the defendants attorney’s fees, rejecting Mahan’s argument that the work done by our firm on appeal was duplicative. The Court observed that “[w]hile the crux of defendants’ arguments may have remained the same, the substance and style of briefing and oral argument differ between trial and appellate courts,” and held that the attorney’s fees requested by Roc Nation were reasonable in light of the fact that “defendants were required to brief and argue the dismissal of five separate claims” that were “objectively without merit”.

The Court’s full opinion and order in Walker v. Carter, et al. can be read here, and the Court’s full opinion and order in Mahan v. Roc Nation, LLC, et al. can be read here.