United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
WELLS ROBY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Fix Attorneys' Fees (R. Doc. 38)
filed by the Defendant, Greater New Orleans Credit Union,
seeking an order from the Court to fix the attorneys'
fees in the amount of $1, 682.50. The motion is opposed. R.
Doc. 39. The motion was submitted on April 12, 2017.
March 16, 2017, the Court granted the Plaintiff's Motion
to Compel finding in part that the Defendant was entitled to
attorneys' fees under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
37(a)(5). R. Doc. 37. As part of that order, the Court
ordered that the Defendant file a motion to fix
attorney's fees and costs. Id. The Defendant
thereafter filed the subject motion on March 28, 2017
requesting $1, 682.50 in attorneys' fees. R. Doc. 38-1,
Plaintiff has opposed the award of attorney's fees as
well as the amount requested. R. Doc. 39. As an initial
matter, the Plaintiff's opposition to the award of fees
is unfounded. The Plaintiff argues that he tendered the
requested discovery to the Plaintiff on March 6, 2017.
Id. at p. 5. However, under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 37(a)(5)(A) provides that the Court must award fees
when the motion to compel is granted “or if the
disclosure or requested discovery is provided after the
motion was filed.” Here, the motion was filed on
February 20, 2017, and the requested discovery was provided
after that date. As such, the Court's award of fees was
Standard of Review
Supreme Court has specified that the “lodestar”
calculation is the “most useful starting point”
for determining the award for attorney's fees.
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983).
Lodestar is computed by “… the number of hours
reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate.” Id. The lodestar
calculation, “...provides an objective basis on which
to make an initial estimate of the value of a lawyer's
services.” Id. Once the lodestar has been
determined, the district court must consider the weight and
applicability of the twelve factors delineated in
Johnson. See Watkins v. Forcide, 7 F.3d
453, 457 (5th Cir. 1993). Subsequently, if the Johnson
factors warrant an adjustment, the court may make
modifications upward or downward to the lodestar.
Id. However, the lodestar is presumed to be a
reasonable calculation and should be modified only in
exceptional circumstances. Id. (citing City of
Burlington v. Dague, 505 U.S. 557, 562 (1992)).
party seeking attorney's fees bears the burden of
establishing the reasonableness of the fees by submitting
“adequate documentation of the hours reasonably
expended”, and demonstrating the use of billing
judgement. Creecy v. Metro. Prop. & Cas. Ins.
Co., 548 F.Supp.2d 279, 286 (E.D. La. 2008) (citing
Wegner v. Standard Ins. Co., 129 F.3d 814, 822 (5th
Reasonable Hourly Rate
“appropriate hourly rate. . .is the market rate in the
community for this work.” Black v. SettlePou,
P.C., 732 F.3d 492, 502 (5th Cir. 2013) (citing
Smith & Fuller, P.A. v. Cooper Tire &
Rubber Co., 685 F.3d 486, 490 (5th Cir.2012)). Moreover,
the rate must be calculated “at the ‘prevailing
market rates in the relevant community for similar services
by attorneys of reasonably comparable skills, experience, and
reputation.'” Int'l Transp. Workers
Fed'n v. Mi-Das Line, SA, 13-00454, 2013 WL 5329873,
at *3 (E.D. La. Sept. 20, 2013) (quoting Blum v.
Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 (1984)). Satisfactory
evidence of the reasonableness of the rate necessarily
includes an affidavit of the attorney performing the work and
information of rates actually billed and paid in similar
lawsuits. Blum, 465 U.S. at 896 n.11. Finally, if
the hourly rate is not opposed, then it is prima
facie reasonable. Powell v. C.I.R., 891 F.2d
1167, 1173 (5th Cir. 1990) (quoting Islamic Ctr. of
Mississippi v. City of Starkville, 876 F.2d 468, 469
(5th Cir. 1989)).
the Defendant has requested a reasonable hourly rate of $225
for work completed prior to March 1, 2017 and $300 for work
completed after March 1, 2017 for Carla Crapster and $190 for Kaile
Mercuri. R. Doc. 38-2, p. 3-4. Crapaster has roughly nine
years of experience. Id. at p. 3. Mercuri has
roughly four years of experience. The Court finds these rates
to be reasonable. See, e.g., EnVen Energy Ventures, LLC
v. Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC, No.
14-424, 2015 WL 3505099, at *2 (E.D. La. June 2, 2015)
(awarding $300 for an attorney with 10 years of experience);
see also see also Calix v. Marine, LLC, No. 14-2430,
2016 WL 4194119, at *6 (E.D. La. July 14, 2016) report
and recommendation adopted, 2016 WL 4180977 (approving
$180 for first year associate); Atel Mar. Investors, LP
v. Sea Mar Mgmt., LLC, No: 08-1700, 2011 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 68436, 2011 WL 2550505 (E.D. La. June 27, 2011) (Roby,
M.J.) (awarding $175 for an associate with two (2) years of
experience);Construction South, Inc. v. Jenkins, No.
11-1201, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99254, 2011 WL 3882271
(E.D.La. July 29, 2011) (Knowles, M.J.) (awarding $180/hour
for an associate with two (2) years of experience).
the Plaintiff does not appear to have challenge these rates.
Therefore, they are prima facie reasonable.
Powell 891 F.2d at 1173.
Hours Reasonably ...