United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
WELLS ROBYJ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Fix Attorneys' Fees (R.
Doc. 14) filed by the Defendants Mix Bros. Tank
Services, Inc. (“Mix Bros.”) and Dave Morrison
“Defendants”), seeking an order from the Court to
fix the attorneys' fees in the amount of $1, 620.00. The
motion is not opposed. The motion was submitted on June 7,
11, 2017, the Court granted the Defendants Motion to Compel
finding in part that the Defendants were entitled to
attorneys' fees under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
37(a)(5). R. Doc. 13. As part of that order, the Court
ordered that the Defendants file a motion to fix
attorney's fees and costs. Id. The Defendants
thereafter filed the subject motion on May 22, 2017
requesting $1, 620.00 in attorneys' fees. R. Doc. 14-1,
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 Defendants have requested a reasonable hourly rate of
$180 for work completed by Mark Carver. R. Doc. 14-1, p.4.
Carver has roughly 23 years of experience. The Court finds
these rates to be reasonable-if not especially discounted.
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 Plaintiffs do not challenge these rates. Therefore, they
are prima facie reasonable. Powell 891 F.2d
Hours Reasonably Spent on Litigation
the court must determine what hours of time were reasonably
expended on the litigation. The party seeking the fee bears
the burden of documenting and supporting the reasonableness
of all time expenditures that compensation is sought.
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 437. The “[c]ounsel for
the prevailing party should make a good faith effort to
exclude from fee request hours that are excessive, redundant,
and otherwise unnecessary…” Id. at 434.
Hours that are not properly billed to one's client also
are not properly billed to one's adversary. Id.
The Supreme Court calls on fee applicants to make request
that demonstrate “billing judgement”.
Id. The remedy for failing to exercise
“billing judgment” is to exclude hours that were
not reasonably expended. See Hensley, 461 U.S. at
434; Walker v. City of Mesquite, 313 F.3d 246, 251
(5th Cir. 2002) (quoting Walker v. HUD, 99 F.3d 761,
770 (5th Cir.1996)) (“If there is no evidence of
billing judgment, however, then the proper remedy is not a
denial of fees, but a reduction of ‘the hours awarded
by a percentage intended to substitute for the exercise of
billing judgment.'”). Alternatively, this Court can
conduct a line-by-line analysis of the time report. See
Green v. Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund,
284 F.3d 642, 662 (5th Cir.2002) overruled on other
grounds by Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. v.
White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006).
the motion for attorneys' fees is in connection to a Rule
37(a) motion to compel, the reasonable hours are further
limited to only those hours directly connected to the motion
to compel. Stagner v. W. Kentucky Navigation, Inc.,
No. 02-1418, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1936 (E.D. La. Feb. 10,
2004) (“However, Rule 37(a) does not contemplate costs