SHREVEPORT – A state appeals court has granted a reduction of attorneys' fees to baby product manufacturer Luv N'Care.
On April 10, the Court of Appeal of the Second Circuit granted Luv N' Care LTD's (LNC) appeal of a judgment order that originally ordered it to pay $19,433.24 for an expert witness fee and $172,621 in attorneys' fees to Jackel International Limited, Product Marketing Mayborn LTD, Mayborn Group Limited, Mayborn USA Inc., Mayborn ANZ Pty LTD and Jackel China LTD.
The Court of Appeal amended the judgment, reducing the attorneys' fee to $162,785 and reducing the expert witness fee to $13,320.
LNC had argued that Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita erred when it awarded the attorneys' fees "because the statutory prerequisite for the imposition of attorney fees is that a person be adjudged guilty of a contempt of court," the ruling states.
Additionally, LNC contended that the attorneys' fees were excessive.
Chief Judge Felicia Toney Williams wrote in the ruling that the trial court considered the extent of the legal work and the attorneys' competency.
"After reviewing the record, we cannot say the trial court erred in accepting as reasonable the total hours of work stated in the affidavits," Williams wrote.
However, Williams found that there was lack of information regarding certain expenses listed only as "costs" in the amount of $9,836.
"...No explanation regarding these expenses was presented in the affidavits or at the fee hearing," Williams wrote. "Based on this lack of information, the trial court erred in including the amount of these costs in the award of attorney fees and we shall reduce the judgment accordingly."
LNC filed suit in 2010 against Mayborn alleging breach of a distribution agreement by copying LNC products, according to the ruling. In 2013, a jury found that Mayborn had indeed breached the contract and awarded damages to LNC "for Mayborn’s sale of seven particular cups which used a silicone compression valve," the ruling states.
LNC then filed a motion for contempt against Mayborn in 2016 alleging that the company had violated its permanent injunction by selling products. A trial court dismissed LNC's damage claims but found that expert’s fees were "fairly reasonable," the ruling states. The trial court also denied LNC's motion for contempt.
John Goetz of Fish and Richardson and Thomas M. Hayes III of Hayes, Harkey, Smith and Casio represented Jackel International. LNC was represented by Robert M. Chiaviello Jr. and Joe D. Guerriero of Nuby Law and Shannon S. Holtzman and Carol W. Reisman of Liskow & Lewis.