United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Fix Attorney’s Fees
(R. Doc. 27) filed by Defendants Joe Balderas,
Transport Refrigeration Sales & Service, Inc. d/b/a
Carrier Transicold South, Gensouth, and Arch Insurance
Company, seeking an order from the Court to fix
attorneys’ fees in the amount of $2, 974.50. The motion
is opposed. R. Doc. 37. The motion was submitted on August
24, 2019, the Court granted Defendants’ Motion to
Compel finding in part that they were entitled to
attorneys’ fees under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
37(a)(5). R. Doc. 26. As part of that order, the Court
ordered that Defendants file a motion to fix attorneys’
fees and costs. Id. Defendants, thereafter, filed
the subject motion on August 7, 2019, requesting $2, 974.50
in attorneys’ fees. R. Doc. 27-1, p. 6. Samir Salim has
opposed the motion arguing that neither the hourly rate nor
hours charged are reasonable. R. Doc. 37.
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 attorneys’ 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)).
Defendants have requested an hourly rate of $195.00 for
billing entries before July 1, 2019, and $225.00 for billing
entries after July 1, 2019 for both attorneys Megan P. Demouy
and Jonathan M. Walsh of Deutsch Kerrigan LLP. Demouy has
provided an affidavit attesting that she is a special partner
who, at the time of the filing, has practiced law for six (6)
years and eight (8) months. R. Doc. 27-2. Demouy is barred in
the State of Indiana since 2011 and licensed to practice law
in the State of Louisiana since 2016. Id.
has provided an affidavit attesting that he is a general
partner licensed to practice in the State of Louisiana, who,
at the time of the filing, has practiced law for twenty (20)
years and ten (10) months, R. Doc. 27-3. Walsh earned his
Juris Doctor from Tulane University School of Law in 1998 and
has numerous accolades and achievements to include the
publishing of an article with Tulane Maritime Law in 2018 and
participating as a panelist in the 21st Annual
Tulane Environmental Law & Policy Summit. Id.
support of this request, Defendants cited, inter
alia, Batiste v. Lewis, No. CV 17-4435, 2019 WL
1591951, at *3 (E.D. La. Apr. 12, 2019) (finding a rate of
$200 for a five-year associate based in New York City in a
copyright action reasonable), Cuevas v. Crosby Dredging,
LLC, No. CV 18-9405, 2019 WL 2410936, at *3 (E.D. La.
June 7, 2019) (finding a rate of $195 for a seven-year
associate, who graduated summa cum laude from LSU Law Center
and served a federal law clerk to the Honorable Carl J.
Barbier, in a maritime personal injury action reasonable),
Mr. Mudbug, Inc. v. Bloomin' Brands, Inc., No.
CV 15-5265, 2017 WL 736044, at *2 (E.D. La. Feb. 24, 2017),
aff'd sub nom. Mr. Mudbug, Inc. v. Bloomin Brands,
Inc., No. CV 15-05265, 2017 WL 2274954 (E.D. La. May 25,
2017) (finding a rate of $210 for a four-year associate, that
opposing counsel did not object to as unreasonable,
permissible). In each instance, the Court finds these cited
cases distinguishable from the case currently before the
case is a standard personal injury action involving a
relatively simply motion to compel. The underlying Motion to
Compel (R. Doc. 13)-two (2) pages with a four (4) page
appended-more a statement of facts, makes a single reference
to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 33(b)(2) and 34(b)(2) and
cites no case law. The subsequently ...