United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
JUSTIN E. CUEVAS
CROSBY DREDGING, LLC, ET. al
WELLS ROBY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Fix
Attorneys' Fees (R. Doc. 50). The motion is
opposed. R. Doc. 50. The motion was heard on the briefs.
a maritime personal injury action, whereby Plaintiff Justin
E. Cuevas, (“Cuevas”) a seaman who was assigned
as a leverman to the Caroline Francis, suffered injuries when
he fell while attempting to board the M/V Beau Andrew, a
tender-boat with an allegedly unsteady tire-bumper system
around the hull of the vessel. R. Doc. 1. On October 10,
2018, the Plaintiff filed suit asserting Jones Act and
General Maritime Law claims (including claims of negligence
and unseaworthiness) against Defendant Crosby Dredging, LLC
(“Crosby Dredging”) as the owner and operator of
the Caroline Francis. Id. Later, after the motion
was filed, the Plaintiff added Defendant Crosby Tugs, LLC
(“Crosby Tugs”) as the owner of the M/V Beau
Andrew. R. Docs. 30 & 31.
motion arises as a result from the granting of a Motion to
Compel, for answers to various Interrogatories and Requests
for Production of Documents. The Court found that the
plaintiff was owed responses to many of the contested
discovery and that there was no good cause for the
defendant's failure to provide adequate responses to
several discovery requests. This case however, has an
additional twist. The Motion to Compel was filed on April 16,
2019 and an order was issued on May 9, 2019. A day before the
ruling on the Motion to Compel, the District Judge held a
status conference and verbally instructed the attorneys to
resolve the issue. R. doc. 48. In the mean-time the
undersigned issued her ruling which included the award of
attorney's fees. The day after the order was issued,
counsel for the defendant emailed to the plaintiff's
attorney the supplemented discovery responses. Rec. doc.
counsel suggests that because the District Judge orally
ordered them to resolve the discovery dispute that the
undersigned's finding that responses were due in addition
to attorney's fees should be reconsidered and reversed.
The District Judges instruction is no different than the
undersigned's ruling except that the motion remained
pending and to be decided by me. As a result, the Court finds
that the underlying order stands and will proceed with
considering the appropriateness of the fee sought. Now
plaintiff moves the Court to fix fees and costs against the
defendants in the amount of $1, 500.00.
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 work performed
by plaintiff's counsel, Joshua Clatyon
(“Clayton”) on the Motion to Compel. The rate
billed to the client was $250.00 an hour.
defendants contend that they do not contest the
reasonableness of the rate. As indicated earlier, the
defendants believe that no fee ...