Connecticut Federal Court Awards Prevailing Sales Representative Less than Half of Requested Attorneys’ Fees

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A federal court in Connecticut reduced attorneys’ fees and costs sought by a sales representative after the court raised concerns about several issues with the sales representative’s trial strategy. Trade Links, LLC v. Bi-Qem SA de CV, 2024 WL 198024 (D. Conn. Jan. 18, 2024). Plaintiff Trade Links contracted with defendant Bi-Qem to sell chemical products on Bi-Qem’s behalf. The relationship between the parties broke down and Trade Links sued, alleging twelve different causes of action, including violation of the Connecticut Franchise Act. The court dismissed the Franchise Act claim along with several others claims, and only four claims were ultimately presented to the jury at trial. After the jury returned a verdict in favor of Trade Links on two of the claims, Trade Links moved for attorneys’ fees and costs under a contractual fee-shifting provision, seeking an award in excess of $1.7 million.

The court reduced Trade Links’ attorneys’ fees and costs request by over fifty percent. The court reasoned that Trade Links’ litigation strategy was excessive and unreasonable, with several claims being weak and implausible from the point of commencing suit, and further reasoned that Trade Links achieved limited success at trial. Moreover, the court noted that Trade Links was unable to assert a factual basis for a claim that survived a summary judgment motion from Bi-Qem. After surviving the motion and when asked by the court to provide a basis for its assertions, Trade Links simply withdrew the claim. The court next addressed whether a similar reduction was warranted for costs. Bi-Qem argued that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 limited Trade Links’ recoverable costs. The court disagreed, noting that the parties’ contract allowed recoverable costs beyond those contemplated by Rule 54. Accordingly, the court awarded costs per the terms of the contract.

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