United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
H.L. Perez-Montes United States Magistrate Judge.
March 27, 2017, following briefing and a hearing, the Court
granted Plaintiffs' request for attorney fees under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37. (Doc. 27). The Court further ordered that
Defendant submit competent and adequate evidence of
attorney's fees and costs incurred in the filing of the
Motion to Compel and for Attorney Fees (Doc. 21).
for Defendant filed an affidavit and exhibit evidencing a
total of $5, 145.00 in attorney fees. (Doc. 31). That figure
is based upon the individual hourly rates of two attorneys
who worked to prosecute the Motion to Compel: Timothy W.
Strickland Stacey T. Norstrud. Strickland worked a total of
13.1 hours, resulting in $2, 930.00 in legal fees. Finding
some reductions in defense counsel's suggested rates and
hours appropriate, the Court awards defense counsel $3,
820.00 in attorney's fees.
Law and Analysis
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5), if a motion to compel is granted,
“the court must, after giving an opportunity to be
heard, require the party . . . whose conduct necessitated the
motion, the party or attorney advising that conduct, or both
to pay the movant's reasonable expenses incurred in
making the motion, including attorney's fees.” In
fixing reasonable attorney's fees, the Court must
determine the reasonable number of hours expended on the
litigation and the reasonable hourly rate to be assigned each
hour. See La. Power & Light Co. v. Kellstrom, 50
F.3d 319, 323-24 (5th Cir. 1995). Attorney's fees must be
calculated at the “prevailing market rates in the
relevant community for similar services by attorneys of
reasonably comparable skills, experience, and
reputation.” Adams v. City of New Orleans, No.
CIV.A. 13-6779, 2015 WL 4606223, at *3 (E.D. La. July 30,
attorneys' fees awards in this district include: $160.00
(Pitre v. City of Eunice, No. 6:14-CV-02843, 2015 WL
4459964 (W.D. La. July 21, 2015) (attorneys based in
Lafayette, LA, with approximately 30 and 15 years of
experience)); $275.00 (Dugas v. Mercedes-Benz USA,
LLC., No. 6:12-CV-02885, 2015 WL 1198604 (W.D. La. March
16, 2015) (Lafayette-based attorney with 15 years of
experience who originally requested $450.00 per hour));
$225.00 (Campbell v. Harold Miller, Jr. Trucking &
Paving, LLC, Civ. No. 6:13-2840, 2014 WL 6389567 (W.D.
La. Nov. 13, 2014) (attorney based in Lafayette with
approximately 20 years of experience)); and $200.00 and
$185.00 (Cash v. Unocal Corp., Civ. No. 6:04-1648,
2014 WL 2980589 (W.D. La. May 27, 2014) (Metairie,
Louisiana-based attorneys with approximately 30 and 15 years
suggested hourly rates of $300.00 for partners and $225.00
for associate attorneys fall at the high end of rates
normally awarded in this district. However, Strickland and
Norstrud practice in Houston, which is in the Southern
District of Texas. Prevailing rates in that district are
generally higher than rates charged in this district.
See, e, g., Gomez v. Nationwide Prop. & Cas.
Ins. Co., 5:15-CV-67, 2016 WL 6816219, at *2 (S.D. Tex.
Apr. 25, 2016) (Laredo, Texas, awarding an hourly rate of
$180.00 for an attorney with approximately 8 years of
experience); Dean v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.,
2:14-CV-304, 2016 WL 126413, at *2 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 12, 2016)
(Corpus Christi, Texas, reducing a suggested hourly rate of
$297.00 to $250.00); Healix Infusion Therapy, Inc. v.
Smith, M.D., P.C., CIV.A. H-09-2776, 2011 WL 4526551, at
*2 (S.D. Tex. July 7, 2011), report and recommendation
adopted, CIV.A. H-09-2776, 2011 WL 4526671 (S.D. Tex. July
28, 2011) (Houston, Texas, awarding $250.00 per hour to
in-house counsel as a “market rate”).
Nonetheless, the Court feels that a slight reduction in the
suggested rates is appropriate. The Court will award
Strickland a rate of $275.00 per hour, and Norstrud a rate of
$200.00 per hour.
Court must also determine whether the total hours claimed by
counsel were reasonable in light of the facts of the case and
the work performed. Pitre, 2015 WL 4459964
(citations omitted). Here, Strickland lists 13.1 total hours
of work, 9.7 hours of which were spent preparing for,
traveling to, and participating in the motion hearing, as
well as “discussion with client regarding status”
following the hearing. (Doc. 31-1). Because parties must be
afforded “an opportunity to be heard” before fees
may be awarded under Fed.R.Civ.P. 37, the hearing was
necessitated by the motion to compel. The Court will reduce
Strickland's additional charges: 1.9 hours analyzing,
revising, and discussing the motion will be reduced to 1
hour; 1.3 hours preparing for hearing on the motion to compel
will be reduced to .5 hours; and .2 hours spent discussing
the status of the motion to compel will be stricken.
Accordingly, Strickland will be credited with 11.2 hours of
work at $275.00 per hour, for a total of $3, 080.00 in
lists a total of 5.4 hours of work, 4.7 hours of which were
spent drafting, revising, and filing the motion to compel and
reviewing local rules. This total is reduced to 3 hours.
Norstrud also spent .7 hours reviewing and compiling
exhibits. Thus, Norstrud will be credited with 3.7 hours of
work at $200.00 per hour, for a total of $740.00 in
Plaintiffs failure to maintain contact with his attorney
caused the breakdown in the discovery process which preceded
the motion to compel. Therefore, Plaintiff - and not
Plaintiffs' counsel - is responsible for the fees
incurred by defense counsel.
ORDERED that on or before August 15, 2017, counsel for
Defendant shall remit ...