United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
PATRICK J. HANNA JUDGE
the Court is the Motion for Attorney's Fee and Expenses
filed on behalf of Gilbert Dozier (Rec. Doc. 86) in response
to this Court's Order of June 3, 2019. (Rec. Doc. 85).
Mr. Guy Patout, proceeding pro se, filed a Response
pursuant to this Court's order. (Rec. Doc. 89).
Considering the evidence, the law, and the arguments of the
parties, and for the reasons fully explained below, the
Motion is granted.
Gilbert Dozier initially filed a Complaint in this Court in
October 2016 on behalf of Guy Patout and several other
crawfish farmers who alleged their crawfish crop was damaged
by the defendant's chemicals. (Rec. Doc. 1). Mr. Dozier
and the plaintiffs agreed to representation based on the
number of acres each plaintiff owned. Mr. Patout owned 35
acres, which represented 4.36% of the total 802 acres. (Rec.
Doc. 86-5, fn. 1). Approximately one year later, Mr. Dozier
moved to withdraw as counsel for Mr. Patout. (Rec. Doc. 53).
Following a hearing on Mr. Dozier's motion to withdraw,
the Court granted the Motion on October 24, 2017. Mr. Dozier
was not discharged for cause.
case proceeded through litigation, including several
depositions, with Mr. Patout proceeding pro se until
May 2019 when the parties settled. (Rec. Doc. 84).
Subsequently, Mr. Patout expressed to the Court in a
telephone voicemail that he was dissatisfied with Mr.
Dozier's attempt to collect attorneys' fees from Mr.
Patout's portion of the settlement proceeds. The Court
issued an Order directing Mr. Dozier to file the appropriate
motion with documentation supporting his claim for
attorneys' fees and costs. (Rec. Doc. 85).
Dozier attached to his motion a copy of his retainer
agreement with Mr. Patout, wherein Mr. Patout agreed to pay
$175 initially in addition to a contingency fee in the amount
of 33 1/3% of the gross amount recovered (before appeal).
(Rec. Doc. 86-2). Mr. Dozier further submitted evidence of
$9, 000 expert fees incurred during his representation of Mr.
Patout, as well as other case expenses totaling $11, 915.00
incurred on behalf of all landowners. (Rec. Doc. 86-4 and
86-5). Of these case expenses, $1, 640.20 were incurred after
Mr. Dozier's withdrawal from Mr.Patout's
representation. The latter expenses represent those incurred
for the defendant's representative and witness
depositions. (Rec. Doc. 86-5, item 3(f) - (j)). In addition,
the cost of Mr. Patout's deposition totaled $270.00.
(Rec. Doc. 86-5, item 4(b)). It is unclear from the record
whether Mr. Patout's deposition occurred before or after
Mr. Dozier's withdrawal.
a diversity case removed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332.
Therefore, Louisiana substantive law applies to the issue
before the Court. Hyde v. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc.,
511 F.3d 506, 510 (5th Cir. 2007). The Fifth Circuit set
forth the law applicable to Louisiana attorneys' fees
disputes as follows:
The Louisiana Supreme Court has instructed courts to consider
factors inspired by Rule 1.5(a) of the Louisiana Rules of
Professional Conduct in arriving at reasonable fee awards in
quantum meruit. These include:
(1) the ultimate result obtained; (2) the responsibility
incurred; (3) the importance of the litigation; (4) amount of
money involved; (5) extent and character of the work
performed; (6) legal knowledge, attainment, and skill of the
attorneys; (7) number of appearances made; (8) intricacies of
the facts involved; (9) diligence and skill of counsel; and
(10) the court's own knowledge.
Courts applying Louisiana law utilize these factors to
determine awards in quantum meruit when attorneys
with contingency fee agreements have been discharged. This
applies when attorneys are discharged either with or without
cause, although courts must reduce the award of an attorney
discharged for cause according to the “nature and
gravity of the cause which contributed to the
dismissal.” Additionally, courts may consider these
“Saucier factors” in the quantum
meruit analysis when seeking to determine the reasonable
value of the service provided by an attorney who operated
without a contingency fee agreement.
Corey v. Brocato, 626 Fed.Appx. 480, 482-83 (5th
Cir.2015), citing City of Alexandria v. Brown, 740
F.3d 339, 358 (5th Cir.2014); and Saucier v. Hayes Dairy
Prod., Inc., 373 So.2d 102, 118 (La. 1978), on
reh'g (June 25, 1979), inter alia.
evidence presented, which Mr. Patout has not challenged,
shows that Mr. Dozier represented Mr. Patout for
approximately one year, during which time he retained and
worked with an expert, prepared and filed the lawsuit,
amended the lawsuit, conducted at least one deposition, and
filed an Affidavit pursuant to F.R.C.P. Rule 56(d) in
response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
Considering Mr. Dozier's efforts, as well as the facts
that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment was denied,
that Mr. Patout ultimately obtained a favorable settlement,
and that Mr. Dozier was not discharged for cause, the Court
finds, in applying the Saucier factors, that 20%
(voluntarily reduced ...