Court Denies CRA’s Motion to Compel Confidential Settlement Agreements Between Plaintiff and Co-Defendants

Jansen v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79760 (D. Or. Aug. 5, 2010)

Facts: Plaintiff brought suit against Equifax and three co-defendants. Plaintiff reached separate confidential agreements with the three co-defendants. Pursuant to an attorney-fee agreement between Plaintiff and her counsel, her attorneys were compensated for their fees and costs from each settlement. As the last remaining defendant, Equifax entered into a settlement agreement that led to the entry of a stipulated judgment against Equifax for $275,000 plus reasonable attorneys’ fees. Plaintiff then filed a motion for award of attorneys’ Fees. Equifax responded with a motion to compel in which it argued that Plaintiff should be required to disclose: (1) the amounts of her settlements with each co-defendant; (2) the amounts that her counsel took from each settlement for attorneys’ fees and costs; (3) her attorneys’ billing records attributable to the other defendants; and (4) the total amount of attorneys’ fees and costs incurred against all defendants. Equifax then argued that Plaintiff’s requested attorneys’ fees should be offset or reduced in light of the attorneys’ fees and costs recovered in the other settlements to avoid double recovery.

Attorneys’ Fees. The Court held that it was appropriate for Equifax to have access to Plaintiff’s counsel’s records from which he contends he should be compensated for the prosecution of the claim against Equifax. The Court reasoned that access to these documents was necessary to avoid double recovery of attorneys’ fees.

Attorneys’ Fees. The Court denied Equifax’s motion to compel discovery of information of the amounts of the settlements between Plaintiff and the other co-defendants because Equifax failed to cite any authority supporting its contention that these agreements should be disclosed. Further, the Court found no authority for the proposition that the Court should offset Plaintiff’s demand for attorneys’ fees by the amount of attorneys’ fees paid to the co-defendants. However, the Court stated that Equifax may file an amended motion that identifies authority that the Court should take into account the amount of attorneys’ fees and costs that Plaintiff’s counsel has received as a consequence of the settlements. If this authority is produced, then the Court would take the new motion under advisement.