1. Claimant EuroChem Trading USA Corporation ("ECTUS" or "Claimant") is entitled to compensatory damages of $14,283,519.42;
2. Claimant is entitled to pre-judgment interest on the $14,283,519.42, to be calculated pursuant to sections 687.01 and 55.03 of the Florida Statutes, commencing from June 1, 2017 until the effective date of this Partial Final Award; and
3. Claimant may seek reimbursement of its attorneys’ fees and costs and Respondent WS AG Center, Inc. ("WS AG" or "Respondent") may oppose any such application.
... The Panel, in its Award, shall assess arbitration expenses and fees as provided in Sections 15, 36 and 37 and shall address the issue of attorneys' fees and costs incurred by the parties. The Panel is empowered to award reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses and costs incurred by a party or parties in the prosecution or defense of the case.
Specifically, Rule 30 requires that the Arbitrator "shall assess" certain expenses and fees — Section 15: stenographic record; Section 36: certain expenses of witnesses and the arbitrator; and Section 37: arbitrator's fees. In addition, Rule 30 "empowers" the arbitrator to award "reasonable attorneys' fees and costs." I interpret the preceding reference to "costs" to be costs other than referenced in Section 15, 36 and 37. Accordingly, I must assess the shifting of the costs of the transcript and of the arbitrator's fees; and I may, in my discretion, order the reimbursement of Claimant's attorneys' fees and of certain other costs.
1. Respondent argues that the hourly rates for the relevant time-keepers are not reasonable — I find that the rates charged appear to be those charged by the relevant attorneys to all clients minus a 20% discount. I decline to find them to be unreasonable. However, as noted below, I will apply a discount of 10% to the total amount of fee reimbursement requested on the basis that most of the work — and perhaps too much — was performed by the two highest billing time-keepers.
2. Respondent argues that certain work, such as review of financial audits (which Respondent argues relates to the efforts to bring into the arbitration proceeding the non-signatories), work related to the federal court litigation, and review of involuntary bankruptcy as an option to force the collection of the debts as well review of mortgages and liens, is un-related to the arbitration proceeding, and otherwise unnecessary — I find that the fees to be reimbursed are only to be those related to the conduct of the arbitration proceeding and should not include those related either to the federal court litigation or to the effort generally to collect on this debt. Therefore, I reject the argument of Claimant that, for example, fees for "investigating what encumbered assets a judgment debtor has against which a judgment creditor may execute" is reimbursable. I will apply a discount of 5% to the total amount of fee reimbursement requested on the preceding basis — that certain tasks are un-related to the conduct of the arbitration proceeding.
3. Respondent also argues that the parties agreed to bear their own fees and costs through the end of the litigation of the preliminary motions and therefore any accrual of fees and costs to be shifted should start as of the resolution of said motions. But, this argument is rebutted by the language of the agreement reached by the parties, as was reflected in the Arbitrator's Order # 2, dated April 2, 2018, which held, in relevant part, that "All parties will bear their own fees and costs with regard to [the] motion to dismiss the non-signatories in the arbitration." Accordingly, only fees and costs for the preliminary motion practice should be excluded — not all fees incurred up until that point in time — and Claimant has eliminated the fees and costs for the preliminary motion practice from its request for reimbursement.
4. Respondent argues that certain work is administrative and should have been performed by a para-legal or administrator, not a lawyer — It appears to me that, generally, lawyers were not conducting administrative tasks and therefore I find that no deduction is warranted on this basis.
5. Respondent argues that Claimant is seeking reimbursement for an excessive or unreasonable number of hours for certain tasks, such as, for example, the drafting the Arbitration Demand — Without being specific, but taking into account the problems inherent in evaluating a fee request that contains block billing, I will apply a discount of 5% to the total amount of fee reimbursement requested on the basis that there was an unreasonable number of hours for certain tasks. I agree with Respondent that, for example, there was an excessive number of hours for the drafting of the Arbitration Demand.
6. Respondent argues that any time spent correcting certain mistakes in discovery responses should not be reimbursable — I rule that mistakes occasionally occur and the time incurred for correcting them is reimbursable. To the extent that any such mistakes are less excusable, such as initially proposing the wrong interest rates, any deduction attributable to the foregoing is part of the 5% discount stated in paragraph 2 above.
7. Respondent argues that travel time, or at least to the extent Claimant requests, should not be reimbursable — I find that travel time is generally reimbursable. To the extent the request is excessive, it is part of the 5% discount stated in paragraph 5 above.
8. Respondent argues that block billing should either not be reimbursed or should be discounted — To the extent that any discount should be taken for this reason, it is part of the 5% discount stated in paragraph 5 above.
1. Claimant has established liability against WS AG on Claimant’s claim for breach of contract under the nine Contracts and, alternatively, under Claimant’s claim for account stated;
2. Claimant’s request for liquidated damages is denied;
3. Claimant is entitled to compensatory damages of $ 14,283,519.42;
4. Claimant is entitled to pre-judgment interest in the amount of $1,124,040.03 until the effective date of the Partial Final Award, as well as pre-judgment interest in the amount of $2,477.12 per day (during 2019) until either the date the Final Award is entered as a judgment or the date the amount owed is paid (or otherwise resolved). Claimant may be entitled to such pre-judgment interest in 2020 (if the Final Award has not been entered as a judgment or the amount owed has not been paid or otherwise resolved) and in subsequent years, but the daily accrual of interest may be at a different rate;
5. Claimant is entitled to $182,498.96 in attorneys’ fees and $34,000 in costs, to be reimbursed by Respondent; and
6. All other claims, by either party, are denied.
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