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Gao v. Sidhu

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 13, 2013

WEIWEI GAO, Plaintiff,
v.
GARY SIDHU, also known as HARP, Defendant.

Gregory A. Blue, Esq. Dilworth Paxson LLP New York, NY, Counsel for Plaintiff.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

WILLIAM H. PAULEY, III, District Judge.

Plaintiff Weiwei Gao filed this action for breach of contract and obtained a default judgment against Defendant Gary Sidhu. The action was referred to Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV for a damages inquest. Magistrate Judge Francis held a hearing on February 22, 2013. While both parties were represented by counsel, only Gao offered evidence.

On May 7, 2013, Magistrate Judge Francis issued the annexed report and recommendation (the "Report") recommending that a judgment be entered against Sidhu in the amount of $173, 875 in compensatory damages, plus interest, attorney's fees, and costs. Sidhu objects. For the reasons set forth below, this Court affirms and adopts the Report.

DISCUSSION

Standard of Review

This Court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations" of a magistrate judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). "This Court reviews de novo those parts of the Report to which objections are made and reviews the remainder for clear error on the face of the record." Strujan v. Teachers Coll. Columbia Univ., No. 08 Civ. 9589 (WHP) (HBP), 2010 WL 3466251, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 3, 2010) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Ortiz v. Barkley , 558 F.Supp.2d 444, 451 (S.D.N.Y.2008)). But "when a party makes only generalized or conclusory objections, or simply reiterates his original arguments, " only the clear error standard applies. Fabricio v. Artus, 2009 WL 928039, at 1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 12, 2009). "[A] district court generally should not entertain new grounds for relief or additional legal arguments not presented to the magistrate." Ortiz , 558 F.Supp.2d at 451. "Rather, it must be an earnest protest that the magistrate judge's report contains a fundamental error of fact or reasoning requiring a fresh look at the issue." Strujan, 2010 WL 3466251, at *2.

Defendant's Objections

First, Sidhu argues that Gao's expert report was not admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. , 509 U.S. 579 (1993). But Defendant waived this argument by failing to raise it in front of Magistrate Judge Francis. See Ortiz , 558 F.Supp.2d at 451. Moreover, Defendant offers only a bullet point list of critiques, without any explanation as to why the expert report falls short of the Daubert standard. Such conclusory objections do not suffice. See Fabricio, 2009 WL 928039, at *1.

Second, Defendant argues that the Report "turned the evidentiary standard on its head, " improperly placing the burden of proof on him by accepting Gao's valuation, in part, because Sidhu did not put forward his own affirmative evidence. De's. Objections to Mag. Judge's Report & Recommendations ("Der s. Objections") at 2, 5. But Plaintiff met his burden by submitting an expert valuation the magistrate judge found "was determined by well-established valuation methods." Report at 5-6.

Finally, Sidhu objects to the Report's award of attorney's fees in the amount of 25% of compensatory damages on the sole basis that "the expert report submitted by plaintiff does not support the award of any compensatory damages." Def s. Objections at 6. As discussed, the compensatory damages award was proper, and therefore so was the award of attorney's fees.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, this Court adopts the well-reasoned report and recommendation of Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, dated May 7, 2013. It is therefore ORDERED that the following judgment be entered in favor of Plaintiff against Defendant:

1. Compensatory damages in the amount of $212, 591.81, consisting of a principal amount of $173, 875 with interest calculated at nine percent per year, compounded annually, running from February 14, 2011 through today;
2. Attorney's fees in the amount of $53, 147.95, calculated as 25% of compensatory damages ...

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