United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill United States District Court
Court has before it Plaintiff's Motion for Award of
Attorney Fees (Dkt. 332). The motion is fully briefed, and
the Court now issues the following decision.
matter was tried to a jury twice. Although somewhat
complicated by the type of contract, at its core the case
involved a single breach of contract claim. Bright Harvest
alleged that Heinz breached the Co-Pack Agreement between the
parties when Heinz stopped purchasing sweet potato fries
prior to expiration of the agreement.
Harvest and Heinz signed the Co-Pack Agreement on December 7,
2009. The Co-Pack Agreement set terms, conditions, and prices
for Bright Harvest to produce sweet potato fries under
Heinz's Ore-Ida label. (Dkt. 45-2, p. 1).
Agreement set forth that Heinz “shall place purchase
orders with Co-Packer [Bright Harvest], and Co-Packer shall
sell and deliver to Heinz, quantities of the products [sweet
potato fries] under the terms of this Agreement.” (Dkt.
10-1, p. 4). The term of the Agreement was from December 1,
2009 until November 30, 2015. (Dkt. 10-1, p. 4). The
Agreement established a “non-binding planning target of
10 million pounds of sweet potato fries per year, ” and
indicated that it was “the intent of the Parties that
Heinz will deliver to Co-Packer purchase orders for such
Products as hereinafter provided, subject to the current
capacity of Co-Packer to produce such Products.” (Dkt.
10-1, p. 5). In addition, Heinz was to provide rolling weekly
demand files with 5 weeks of firm production orders and 8
weeks of forecast. (Dkt. 10-1, p. 5). No purchase order could
exceed 50% of Bright Harvest's current forecasted volume
without mutual consent. (Dkt. 10-1, p. 5). Further, Heinz was
to provide Bright Harvest 12 to 18 month rolling forecasts
quarterly for operational management and capacity planning.
(Dkt. 10-1, p. 6).
Harvest began supplying Heinz with sweet potato fries in
2009. In the first year of the contract, Bright Harvest
produced approximately half of the requested 400, 000 pounds
of sweet potato fries, and in 2010, they produced 6 million
pounds for Heinz. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 5). While the Agreement was
still in effect, Heinz began producing sweet potato fries in
its Ontario, Oregon facility. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 5). And, in
March 2011, it submitted a 13-month rolling forecast to
Bright Harvest requesting only 4.1 million pounds of sweet
potato fries between April 2011 and 2012. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 6).
Sweet Harvest claimed that this drop in requested production
constituted a breach of the Co- Pack Agreement. To settle
this dispute, Heinz drafted a letter revising its forecast
from 4.1 million pounds to over 7 million pounds, which
Bright Harvest signed. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 6). However, beginning
in July of 2011, Heinz provided Bright Harvest with 12-18
month forecasts showing zero volume for all products after
September 2012. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 8). Regarding this as a breach
of the Co-Pack Agreement, Bright Harvest filed a breach of
contract claim against Heinz in July 2011.
trial was held in March 2015. At the conclusion of the
evidence, the Court instructed the jury and gave the jury a
special verdict form containing three questions. (Dkt.
153-1). The first question required the jury to determine
whether the Co-Pack Agreement was an enforceable contract.
The jury answered that it was. The second question asked the
jury to decide whether Heinz had breached the Co-Pack
Agreement. The jury answered that it had not. As a result,
the third question regarding the amount of damages was not
answered by the jury. Bright Harvest then filed a motion to
amend the judgment, or, in the alternative, for a new trial.
The Court granted a new trial after concluding that the
jury's verdict was inconsistent.
second trial was conducted in February/March 2016. The jury
in the second trial determined that the Co-Pack Agreement
between the parties was an enforceable requirements contract,
and that Heinz breached the contract. The jury then awarded
damages of $976, 370.52 for lost fixed overhead, and $238,
518.56 for lost profits. Both parties filed post-trial
motions, asking the Court for judgment as a matter of law, to
alter or amend the judgment, or for a new trial. The Court
denied all those requests. Bright Harvest's motion for
attorney's fees in now ripe for disposition.
law governs the award of attorney's fees in this matter.
Champion Produce, Inc. v. Ruby Robinson Co., Inc.,
342 F.3d 1016, 1024 (9th Cir.2003). Pursuant to Idaho Code
§ 12-120(3), the prevailing party in a contract dispute
is entitled to a reasonable attorney fee to be set by the
Court. Determination of whether a party is the prevailing
party is committed to the discretion of the trial court.
Sanders v. Lankford, 1 P.3d 823, 826 (Idaho 2000);
see also I.R.C.P. 54(d)(1)(B).
Idaho, governing legal standards on the prevailing party
issue are provided by I.R.C.P. 54(d)(1)(B). “[T]here
are three principal factors the trial court must consider
when determining which party, if any, prevailed: (1) the
final judgment or result obtained in relation to the relief
sought; (2) whether there were multiple claims or issues
between the parties; and (3) the extent to which each of the
parties prevailed on each of the claims or issues.”
Id. The Court in its discretion may determine that a
party prevailed in part and did not prevail in part, and may
apportion the costs between and among the parties in a fair
and equitable manner after considering all the issues and
claims involved in the action and the ...