United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
Wells Roby, United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Fix Attorney's
Fees (R. Doc. 75). The motion is opposed. R. Doc. 80. The
motion was heard on the briefs.
Idel (“Idel”) alleges that on November 10, 2015
Richard Pope (“Pope”) broke Idel's jaw when
he intentionally kneed the back of his head into a concrete
walkway. Idel was an inmate in Rayburn Correctional Center at
the Louisiana Department of Corrections, where he allegedly
sustained a broken jaw even though he posed no threat to
other inmates or officers because he was fully restrained in
handcuffs and face down on the ground. Idel alleges that
Pope's use of force was excessive and resulted in
significant pain and permanent damage to Idel's jaw.
Idel's counsel, Emily Posner (“Posner”) has
submitted an application for the award of attorney fees
totaling $2, 392.00 for the fees incurred in trying to secure
a complete response to discovery requests and
interrogatories. The Defendant opposes the motion noting that
the Court issued a revised order that gave the defendant
through February 8, 2019 to provide verified responses and
found that the only remaining interrogatories which were
disputed were “irrelevant and outside the scope of Rule
26”. Pope opposes Idel counsel's rate of $175.00 as
not reasonable and contends that a rate of $150.00 is
actually reasonable, given counsel's background and
experience. Pope also challenges the reasonableness of the
hours billed. Having set forth the position of the parties,
the Court will proceed with analyzing the application.
Standard of Review
Supreme Court has indicated that the “lodestar”
calculation is the “most useful starting point”
for determining the award of attorney's fees. Hensley
v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). The lodestar
equals “the number of hours reasonably expended on the
litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.”
Id. The lodestar is presumed to yield a reasonable
fee. La. Power & Light Co. v. Kellstrom, 50 F.3d
319, 324 (5th Cir. 1995). After determining the lodestar, the
Court must then consider the applicability and weight of the
twelve factors set forth in Johnson v. Ga. Highway
Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir.
1974). The Court can make upward or downward
adjustments to the lodestar figure if the Johnson
factors warrant such modifications. See Watkins v.
Fordice, 7 F.3d 453, 457 (5th Cir. 1993). However, the
lodestar should be modified only in exceptional cases.
the calculation of the lodestar, the burden then shifts to
the party opposing the fee to contest the reasonableness of
the hourly rate requested or the reasonableness of the hours
expended “by affidavit or brief with sufficient
specificity to give fee applicants notice” of the
objections. Rode v. Dellarciprete, 892 F.2d 1177,
1183 (3d Cir. 1990).
Reasonableness of the Hourly Rates
seeks to recover the attorney's fees for Emily Posner and
the work of a law clerk as a result of work performed on one
Motion to Compel. The rate billed to the client is $175 per
hour for Posner and $15.00 per hour for the Law Clerk. R.
Doc. 575-2. Posner contends that she has been licensed to
practice law since 2013. She is a graduate of Loyola
University and graduated in the top 15% of her class. She
also graduated Magna Cum Laude from Colby College in 2004.
also hired a law student to assist with research who billed
at a rate of $15.00 per hour on one occasion. No. other
information has been provided regarding the law student's
defendant contends that the rates charged by Posner exceed
the rates available in the New Orleans Market. The defendant
further contends that rates for the New Orleans Market would
have generally been less than $175.00 per ...