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International Construction Equipment, Inc. v. Laborde Construction Industries, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

June 5, 2017

INTERNATIONAL CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT, INC.
v.
LABORDE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, LLC.

          RULING

          SHELLY D. DICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Affidavit of Attorney's Fees & Costs[1] filed by the Plaintiff, International Construction Equipment Inc. (“Plaintiff”). Defendants, Laborde Construction Industries, LLC. (“Laborde”) have not filed an opposition to this affidavit and have failed appear in this case. For the following reasons, the Court finds that Plaintiff's affidavit for attorney's fees is sufficient and the amount requested will be granted.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[2]

         The Court in its Ruling[3] awarded Plaintiff attorney's fees and costs. Before the Court is an Affidavit[4] filed by Plaintiff's in support of their award of attorney's fees and costs. Defendants have not filed any opposition to the ruling or the affidavit filed by Plaintiffs.

         II. ATTORNEY'S FEES

         Considering the Court's ruling in favor of Plaintiff and awarded damages in the amount of $ 62, 436.16, [5] Plaintiff now seeks attorney's fees in the amount of $4, 800.00 and costs in the amount of $664.74.[6]

         A. The Lodestar Approach

         A court's discretion in fashioning a reasonable attorney's fee is broad and reviewable only for an abuse of discretion, i.e., it will not be reversed unless there is strong evidence that it is excessive or inadequate, or the amount chosen is clearly erroneous.[7]To determine a reasonable fee, a court must provide a concise but clear explanation of its reasons for the fee award, making subsidiary factual determinations regarding whether the requested hourly rate is reasonable, and whether the tasks reported by counsel were duplicative, unnecessary, or unrelated to the purposes of the lawsuit.[8] The Fifth Circuit has noted that its “concern is not that a complete litany be given, but that the findings be complete enough to assume a review which can determine whether the court has used proper factual criteria in exercising its discretion to fix just compensation.”[9]

         In assessing the reasonableness of attorneys' fees, the court must first determine the “lodestar” by multiplying the reasonable number of hours expended and the reasonable hourly rate for each participating attorney.[10] The party seeking the fee bears the burden of proof on this issue.[11]

         1. Reasonable Hours Expended

         The Court begins by determining whether the number of hours claimed by Plaintiff's attorneys is reasonable.[12] Local Rule 54 provides specific guidance regarding how this burden is met, stating: “the party desiring to be awarded such fees shall submit to the court a contemporaneous time report reflecting the date, time involved, and nature of the services performed. The report shall be in both narrative and statistical form and provide hours spent and justification thereof.”[13] “Where the documentation of hours is inadequate, the district court may reduce the award accordingly.”[14]

         Here, attorney Gennusa provided a detailed performance log of the services provided by counsel that complies with Local Rule 54. The Court finds that the log demonstrate that Gennusa exercised proper judgment in billing for services necessary in the ordinary course of litigation. The Court finds the log entries consistent with the timeline and filings in this case and typical with respect to the duties necessary in such a case. The Court did not find the entries to be duplicative, unnecessary, or overly broad. Additionally, Genussa submitted an affidavit attesting to the veracity of the detailed time log.[15] Campbell and Brady also contend they excluded from their performance logs time for intra-office meetings and conferences on this matter.

         The Court is satisfied that the explanations provided by Plaintiff's attorney is sufficient to establish entitlement to the fees sought.

         2. Reasonable Hourly Rates

         The Court must also determine if the hourly rate of $150/hour for Gennusa is reasonable given counsel's ability, competence, experience, and skill. An attorney's reasonable hourly rate should be “in line with those prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation.”[16] The Fifth Circuit has emphasized that “the relevant market for purposes of determining the prevailing rate to be paid in a fee award is the community in which the district court sits.”[17]

         The party seeking attorney's fees has the burden of producing satisfactory evidence that the requested rate is aligned with the prevailing market rate.[18] “[A] mere conclusory statement that [a] fee [is] reasonable” is insufficient for calculating the lodestar fee.[19] Rather, “[t]o inform and assist the court in [determining the reasonable rate], ” the fee applicant should produce an affidavit of the attorney performing the work, information of rates actually billed and paid in similar lawsuits, [20] as well as “affidavits of other attorneys practicing [in the community ...


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