United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
GEORGE W. ROBINSON,
CITY OF BATON ROUGE AND THE PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE,
RULING AND ORDER
W. DeGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Tax Costs
and To Award Attorneys' Fees (Doc. 139) by the
Defendants, City of Baton Rouge, Plaintiffs George W.
Robinson, Jr., and Demetra Parsons Robinson oppose the
motion. (Doc. 142.) Defendants have filed a reply. (Doc.
145.) Oral argument is not necessary. Having carefully
considered the law, facts in the record, and arguments and
submissions of the parties, the motion is denied.
Plaintiffs are real estate developers who attempted to
develop a subdivision within the City/Parish. Pursuant to
state and local law, they submitted a preliminary plat for
approval to the City/Parish's Planning Commission. The
Planning Commission denied approval. This suit ensued.
originally asserted the following claims: (1) a writ of
mandamus requiring the approval of preliminary plat; (2)
declaratory relief finding that the Planning Commission acted
improperly; (3) an unconstitutional taking under state law;
(4) an inverse condemnation claim under federal law; (5) a
substantive due process claim; and (6) a procedural due
process claim. (Doc. 1-2.)
filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs claims pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (Doc. 14.) The Court granted the
motion with respect to the writ of mandamus and request for
declaratory relief, but, in all other respects, the motion
was denied. (Doc. 36.)
later moved for summary judgment. (Doc. 62.) After extensive
briefing, which included a sur-reply by the Plaintiffs (Doc.
80), the Court granted the Defendant's motion in most
respects, dismissing all claims except the regulatory taking
claim under state and federal law. (Doc. 115.) The
Court's extensive ruling was eighty-four pages.
matter was tried for three days beginning on October 31,
2016. (Docs. 130-32.) Again, the key question was whether the
Plaintiffs suffered a regulatory taking under federal and
state law. This complex legal question required a number of
witnesses and difficult jury instructions. After the
Plaintiffs rested, the Court denied a motion for judgment as
a matter of law by the Defendants. The matter went to the
jury shortly thereafter, and the jury returned a verdict in
favor of the Defendants.
Arguments of the Parties
seek attorneys' fees and costs. They initially ask for
$100, 000 in costs and attorneys' fees. Defendants
specifically seek $25, 000 in costs for transcripts,
"expert witness fees, " and "fees for
depositions." Defendants also want $75, 000 in
attorneys' fees, purportedly under the lodestar
method-$250 per hour for 300 hours worked, which they claim
is well below the approximately 700 to 800 hours worked in
respond that the motion should be denied in full. As to
costs, Plaintiffs state that Defendants provide insufficient
explanation for what they seek and ask for well more than
what they are entitled to under the law.
Plaintiffs assert that Defendants are not entitled to
attorneys' fees because, legally, in actions under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, prevailing defendants can recover
attorneys' fees only if Plaintiffs' claims are
"frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation."
This is determined by evaluating, among other things, whether
the plaintiff had established a prima facie case, whether the
defendant had offered to settle, whether the court had
dismissed the case or had a full trial, whether the claim was
barred by state sovereign immunity, or whether the claim was
moot. (See Doc. 142 at 4-6 (citations omitted).)
Here, Plaintiffs survived a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge, the
Court did not grant the Defendant's motion for summary
judgment in full, and the Court denied Defendant's Rule
50 motion. Further, the claims were not barred by state
sovereign immunity and was not moot. Thus, Plaintiffs claim,
Defendants lack a legal basis for obtaining attorneys'
also maintain that Defendants are not entitled to
attorneys' fees because Defendant has not submitted the
proper documentation. Thus, there is no factual basis for the
request for attorneys' fees.
closing, Plaintiffs argue that the Court should exercise its
discretion to deny the motion in toto. Plaintiffs
contend that the Court should order each ...