United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff HeiTech Services, Inc.'s Motion for an Award of Costs and Attorneys' Fees. [Dkt. 61.] For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion.
On July 1, 2012, Plaintiff HeiTech Services, Inc. ("HeiTech") and Defendant Front Rowe, Inc. ("FRI") entered into a Subcontractor Agreement ("the Contract"). FRI subsequently breached the Contract. On December 19, 2014, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of HeiTech against FRI in the amount of $505, 758.63. (Mem. Op. [Dkt. 42]; Order [Dkt 43]; Clerk's Judgment [Dkt. 44].) On May 26, 2015, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of HeiTech against individual Defendants Atron Rowe ("Atron") and Karen Rowe ("Karen"), holding them individually liable for the judgment entered against FRI after piercing the corporate veil. (Mem. Op. [Dkt. 56]; Order [Dkt. 57]; Clerk's Am. Judgment [Dkt. 59].) In accordance with this Court's June 3, 2015 Order [Dkt. 60], on June 10, 2015, HeiTech filed a Motion for an Award of Costs and Attorneys' Fees [Dkt. 61] with a Memorandum in Support [Dkt. 62]. The collective Defendants have not filed a brief in opposition to this request, and the time to so file has expired. (See Order [Dkt. 60].) The Court waives oral argument pursuant to E.D. Va. Local Civil Rule 7(J). Accordingly, the motion is ripe for disposition.
II. Legal Standard
"Unless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs-other than attorney's fees- should be allowed to the prevailing party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). The decision to award costs "lies within the sound discretion of the district court." Marx v. Gen. Revenue Corp., 133 S.Ct. 1166, 1172 (2013) (citation omitted); Constantino v. S/T Achilles, 580 F.2d 121, 123 (4th Cir. 1978). The Court's discretion, however, "is limited to those costs specifically enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920." Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 441 (1987) ("§ 1920 defines the term costs' as used in Rule 54(d).").
Conversely, regarding attorneys' fees, "[w]hen state law controls, state law governs not only the right to fees, but also the method of calculating the fees. The method of calculating a fee is an inherent part of the substantive right to the fee itself and reflects substantive state policy." E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 911 F.Supp.2d 340, 358 (E.D. Va. 2012) (quoting Moore's Federal Practice § 124.07[b] (2008)) (additional citations omitted), abrogated on other grounds, 748 F.3d 160 (4th Cir. 2014), 564 F.Appx. 710 (4th Cir. 2014). Other commentators have noted that in some instances, "the judge's exercise of this discretion is not to be fettered by state doctrines relating to attorney's fees, " even though "the decisions which hold that state law controls appear analytically sounder.'" E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 911 F.Supp.2d at 358-59 (quoting 10 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller, Mary Kay Kane & Richard L. Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 2669 (3d ed. 2012)).
A. HeiTech is entitled to costs.
Pursuant to Rule 54(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, HeiTech is entitled to costs as the prevailing party for filing fees, copies/printing, and court reporting in the total amount of $8, 483.93. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1920(1) (fees of the clerk and marshal); (2) (fees for transcripts); and (4) (fees for making copies). The Court has reviewed HeiTech's cost request. (See Pl.'s Mem. Ex. D [Dkt. 61-4] at 38; Pl.'s Mot. Ex. E [Dkt. 61-5].) Without any objection from any of the named-Defendants, the Court will award the full amount of costs in HeiTech's favor. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1); 28 U.S.C. § 1920.
B. HeiTech is entitled to attorneys' fees.
"The general rule in this Commonwealth is that in the absence of a statute or contract to the contrary, a court may not award attorney's fees to the prevailing party." Carlson v. Wells, 705 S.E.2d 101, 109 (Va. 2011) (quoting Prospect Dev. Co. v. Bershader, 515 S.E.2d 291, 300 (Va. 1999)). Here, under the terms of the Contract between HeiTech and FRI, which appears to have been drafted by FRI, the parties agreed that:
Front Rowe, Inc., shall defend, indemnify and hold [HeiTech], its officers, agents and employees harmless from and against any and all liability, loss, expense including reasonable attorneys' fees, or claims for injury or damages arising out of the performance of this Agreement but only in proportion to an to the extent such liability, loss, expense, attorneys' fees, or claims for injury or damages are caused by or result from the negligent or intentional acts or omissions of Front Rowe, Inc., its officers, agents or employees.
(Pl.'s Mem. Ex. A [Dkt. 61-1] at 11 ("the Contract § E.05").) Under Virginia law, similar if not identical indemnity provisions have entitled the prevailing party to recover its attorneys' fees from the breaching party. See, e.g., Chesapeake & Potomac Tel. Co. of Va. v. Sisson & Ryan, Inc., 362 S.E.2d 723, 728-29 (Va. 1987). Accordingly, as a matter of Virginia law, which governs the breach of contract action in this diversity case, HeiTech as the prevailing party is entitled to recover its ...