United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division
BRAD R. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
REBECCA ALLEN, et al., Defendants.
C. Dever, II United States District Judge.
September 7, 2018, the court granted defendants' motions
to dismiss Brad R. Johnson's ("Johnson" or
"plaintiff') first amended complaint [D.E. 77, 78].
Defendants moved for attorneys' fees [D.E. 79, 88, 92]
and filed memoranda in support [D.E. 80, 91, 93]. Johnson
responded in opposition [D.E. 96, 109, 111]. Defendants moved
to strike Johnson's responses [D.E. 102, 116-17], and
Hodges and Simmons replied [D.E. 119].
October 5, 2018, Johnson moved to alter and amend the
court's judgment [D.E. 89] and filed a memorandum in
support [D.E. 90]. Defendants responded in opposition [D.E.
95, 104] and moved to strike Johnson's memorandum in
support [D.E. 101]. Johnson replied [D.E. 105, 110, 112], and
defendants moved to strike one of Johnson's replies [D.E.
115]. As explained below, the court denies defendants'
motions for attorneys' fees, denies Johnson's motion
to alter and amend the judgment, and grants defendants'
motions to strike.
seek an award of attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1988 and the court's inherent powers [D.E. 79, 88,
92]. "Section 1988(b) confers discretion on courts to
award attorneys fees to the prevailing party in an action
brought under, inter alia, 42 U.S.C. §
1983." DeBauche v. Trani, 191 F.3d 499, 510
(4th Cir. 1999). A prevailing plaintiff "should
ordinarily recover an attorney's fee unless special
circumstances would render such an award unjust."
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983)
(quotation omitted); Lefemine v. Wideman, 758 F.3d
551, 555 (4th Cir. 2014). "A much stricter standard
applies, however, when a court is requested to make such an
award to a prevailing defendant" Unus v. Kane,
565 F.3d 103, 127 (4th Cir. 2009). For a prevailing defendant
to recover its attorneys' fees under section 1988,
"the plaintiffs claims must have been either frivolous,
unreasonable, or groundless, or the plaintiff must have
continued to litigate after the claim became so."
Id. (quotations and alteration omitted); see
Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 14 (1980) (per curiam):
DeBauche, 191 F.3d at 510. The Fourth Circuit has
recognized that "awarding attorneys' fees to a
prevailing defendant is a conservative tool, to be used
sparingly in those cases in which the plaintiff presses a
claim which he knew or should have known was groundless,
frivolous, or unreasonable." Eqwil Emp't
Opportunity Comm'n v. Great Steaks, Inc., 667 F.3d
510, 517 (4th Cir. 2012) (alteration and quotation omitted);
see Arnold v. Burger King Corp., 719 F.2d 63, 65
(4th Cir. 1983).
record does not support awarding attorneys' fees to
defendants. Accordingly, the court denies defendants'
motions for attorneys' fees.
defendants' motions to strike various memoranda that
Johnson filed, Local Civil Rule 7.2(f) governs page limits
for memoranda, and Local Civil Rule 10.1 governs the forms of
memoranda. See Local Civ. R. 7.2(f), 10.1. Johnson's
memoranda far exceed the authorized page limits, and Johnson
disregards Local Civil Rule 10.1. See [D.E. 90, 96, 109-11].
Accordingly, the court grants defendants' motions to
October 5, 2018, Johnson moved to amend or alter the
court's judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure [D.E. 89]. "A Rule 59(e) motion
may only be granted in three situations: (1) to accommodate
an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for
new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a
clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice."
Mayfield v. Nat'l Ass'n for Stock Car Auto
Racing, Inc., 674 F.3d 369, 378 (4th Cir. 2012)
(quotation omitted); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e); Zinkand v.
Brown, 478 F.3d 634, 637 (4th Cir. 2007); Bogart v.
Chapell, 396 F.3d 548, 555 (4th Cir. 2005); Pac.
Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396,
403 (4th Cir. 1998); Hughes v. Bedsole, 48 F.3d
1376, 1382 (4th Cir. 1995). Johnson's motion lacks merit
and is denied.
the court DENIES defendants' motions for attorneys'
fees [D.E. 79, 88, 92], DENIES Johnson's motion to alter
or amend the judgment [D.E. 89], and GRANTS ...