United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
SPARKS SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
REMEMBERED on this day the Court reviewed the file in the
above-styled cause, and specifically Defendants Portfolio
Recovery Associates, LLC (PRA) and Western Surety Company
(Western)'s Motion for Sanctions and Attorneys' Fees
[#42], Plaintiff Luis Tejero's Response [#45] in
opposition, Defendants' Reply [#50] thereto, Plaintiffs
Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs [#43], and Defendant's
Response [#44] in opposition. Having reviewed the documents,
the governing law, the arguments of counsel, and the file as
a whole, the Court now enters the following opinion and
Court previously recounted, this lawsuit concerns PRA's
efforts to collect Plaintiffs outstanding credit card debt
(the Debt) after Plaintiff defaulted. Compl. [#1]
January 29, 2016, PRA received a faxed letter listing
Plaintiff as the sender and stating the following:
I am writing to you regarding the account referenced above. I
refuse to pay this debt. My monthly expenses exceed my
monthly income; as such there is no reason for you to
continue to contacting me, and the amount you are reporting
is not accurate either. If my circumstances should change I
will be in touch.
Id. [#1-1] Ex. B (Debt Letter). Sometime during
March 2016, PRA informed a consumer reporting agency of the
Debt. Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. [#18] at 3. PRA reported a
balance of $2, 211.00 and did not indicate the Debt was
24, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court alleging
violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA),
15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692p, and the Texas Debt
Collection Act (TDCA), Texas Finance Code §§
392.001-392.404, against PRA and Western. Compl. [#1].
Plaintiff claimed PRA violated the FDCPA and TDCA by failing
to report the Debt was disputed. Compl. [#1] ¶¶
12-38.Western is the surety company for the bond
PRA has on file with the Texas Secretary of State.
Id. ¶ 11.
filed a motion for summary judgment, which the Court denied
as fact issues remained. Order of Apr. 6, 2017 [#27].
Subsequently, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment,
which the Court granted in part and denied in part. Order of
July 27, 2017 [#36]. In particular, the Court found Plaintiff
had no standing for his TDCA claim because Plaintiff offered
no evidence he suffered actual damages, a necessary condition
to establish a TDCA claim. Id.at 7-9. On the other
hand, the Court denied summary judgment on Plaintiffs FDCA
claim because a fact issue existed concerning whether
Plaintiff actually disputed the Debt via the Debt Letter.
Id. at 10-11. Likewise, the Court denied Plaintiffs
motion for reconsideration of his summary judgment motion.
Id. at 9-11.
was set for May 2018, but the parties filed a joint notice of
settlement early in February 2018. Settlement Notice [#39].
The Court then ordered both parties to submit motions for
attorneys' fees, which are ripe for consideration.
Legal Standards A. Attorneys' Fees Under
28 U.S.C. § 1927
U.S.C. § 1927 provides that "[a]ny attorney or
other person admitted to conduct cases in any court of the
United States or any Territory thereof who so multiplies the
proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously may be
required by the court to satisfy personally the excess costs,
expenses, and attorneys' fees reasonably incurred because
of such conduct." To find a party multiplied proceedings
"unreasonably" and "vexatiously, " there
must "be evidence of bad faith, improper motive, or
reckless disregard of the duty owed to the court."
Procter & Gamble Co. v. Amway Corp., 280 F.3d
519, 525 (5th Cir. 2002). Section 1927 authorizes
"shifting fees that are associated with the persistent
prosecution of a meritless claim." Id.
(quotation omitted). "To shift the entire cost of
defense, " the party requesting sanctions "must
prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that every
facet of the litigation was patently meritless .. .and
counsel must have lacked a reason ...