Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Abbey v. Castille

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 27, 2015

ST. JOSEPH ABBEY, ET AL.
v.
PAUL “WES” CASTILLE, ET AL.

SECTION “K” (5)

ORDER AND REASONS

STANWOOD R. DUVAL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

Before the Court are Defendants'[1] Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations (Doc. 147) which report was entered on November 21, 2014, recommending defendants pay to plaintiffs, St. Joseph Abbey and Deacon Mark Coudrain $844, 795.24 in reasonable attorneys' fees. As this matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Michael North for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to the authority found at Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d) and L.R. 54.2, the Court must conduct a de novo revue as set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b) as to all specific written objections that have been made by the defendants. Having done so, the Court accepts the Report and Recommendation and adopts it as its own for the reasons that follow.

After a painstaking and thorough analysis, the magistrate judge reduced plaintiffs' application for court awarded attorneys' fees from a requested fee of $913, 350.24 as prevailing party attorneys' fees to the aforementioned $844.795.24. In performing this analysis, the magistrate judge determined the lodestar, as defined in Louisiana Power & Light Co. v. Kellstrom, 50 F.3d 319, 324 (5th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. 516 U.S. 862 (1995), and then considered the applicability and relative weight of the 12 factors set forth in Johnson v. Georgia Hwy. Express, 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir. 1974) . Defendants' objections are as follows:

1) The magistrate judge erred in recommending an hourly rate of $450.00 for Mr. Scott Bullock. Defendants contend this rate is excessive when measured against the prevailing rate in the New Orleans market.
2) The magistrate judge erred in recommending an hourly rate of $335.00 for Mr. Jeff Rowes. Likewise, defendants contend this rate is excessive when measured against the prevailing rate in the New Orleans market.
3) The magistrate judge erred in recommending an hourly rate of $300.00 for Mrs. Darpana Sheth.. Again, defendants contend this rate is excessive when measured against the prevailing rate in the New Orleans market.
4) The magistrate judge erred in finding that the claimed number of hours were reasonable.

The Court will now address these objections.

Reasonable Fee Rates

With the exception of local counsel, F. Evan Schmidt, all the attorneys and paralegals representing plaintiffs are associated with the Institute for Justice ("the Institute"), a non-profit, public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C. The Institute represented plaintiffs herein on a pro bono basis. Mr. Bullock was lead counsel; Mr. Rose was second chair, and one paralegal was used at a time. At the inception of the discovery phase, the Institute added Ms. Sheth to the litigation team. Plaintiffs maintain that although they are entitled to recover fees based on prevailing rates in the Washington, D.C. area, they have sought only to recover the prevailing rates in the forum district–New Orleans. The rates sought were as follows:

Name

Title

Years of Experience

Requested Rate

Scott G. Bullock

Senior Attorney

22

$500

Jeff Rowes

Senior Attorney

11

$375

Darpana Sheth

Attorney

9

$300

The record reflects that each of these attorneys submitted a declaration concerning their qualifications, years of experience, the nature and extent of the work performed in this case, the hourly rate charged and the number of hours billed. (Exhibits 1-5 submitted in the evidentiary hearing).

Plaintiffs also submitted the affidavit of James R. Swanson, a well-respected senior New Orleans litigator, who was retained by plaintiffs as an expert witness. Mr. Swanson's declaration was limited to the reasonableness of the hourly rates and did not opine on the reasonableness of the time expended. Defendants submitted a report from their own expert, James M. Garner, which ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.