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Mealy v. Gautreaux

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 8, 2020

SHERMAN MEALY
v.
SHERIFF SID J. GAUTREAUX, III, as the political entity responsible for the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, ET AL.

          ORDER

          RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Fix Attorneys' Fees (R. Doc. 119) filed on July 30, 2019. Defendant filed its Memorandum in Opposition (R. Doc. 126) on August 6, 2019.

         I. Background

         On October 25, 2016, Sherman Mealy (“Plaintiff”) commenced this action seeking relief under Title II of the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“RA”), and 42 U.S.C § 1983. (R. Doc. 1). Plaintiff filed this action after his release from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. Plaintiff, who is a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair, alleges that he was denied access to wheelchair-accessible showers and instead forced to ask other inmates to help him use the general population showers. Plaintiff also alleges that he was denied various medical supplies. Defendant Sheriff Sid Gautreaux and Defendant the City-Parish of East Baton Rouge each filed motions to dismiss Mr. Mealy's claims. (R. Doc. 10, 12). On July 21, 2017 those opposed motions were denied with respect to Mr. Mealy's constitutional claims under Section 1983, and freestanding ADA and RA claims. (R. Doc. 41).

         Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel Production of Documents (R. Doc. 86) on November 27, 2018. Therein, Plaintiff sought the production of three “key documents.” (R. Doc. 86 at 1). Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Sanctions Pursuant to Rule 30(d)(2) (R. Doc. 85) on November 26, 2018, seeking sanctions arising out of a deposition taken pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6).

         The Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (R. Doc. 86) and Motion for Sanctions (R. Doc. 85) by way of Order (R. Doc. 116) dated July 16, 2019. Therein, the Court also awarded Plaintiff his reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the Motion to Compel, including attorney's fees, as well as his reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the Motion for Sanctions, including attorney's fees. (R. Doc. 116 at 9, 11).

         On July 30, 2019, Plaintiff filed his Motion to Fix Attorneys' Fees (R. Doc. 119), seeking a total of $8, 503.00 as reasonable attorneys' fees.

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Legal Standard

         Once a district court has determined that a party is entitled to an award of attorney's fees, as in this case, it must find the number of hours reasonably expended on the case[1] and the reasonable hourly rate for the attorney's services. Wegner v. Standard Ins. Co., 129 F.3d 814, 822 (5th Cir. 1997). The court then multiplies those two figures together to determine the “lodestar” amount of attorney's fees. Id. The lodestar amount is presumed to be the reasonable fee, but it may be adjusted upward or downward after consideration of the factors set forth in Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-719 (5th Cir. 1974).[2]

         B. Analysis

         In support of his request for $8, 503.00 in attorney's fees, Plaintiff submitted an itemized breakdown of the fees requested, noting the date, identity of person completing the task, the hours spent, the hours sought, a description of the task, and whether the fee was reduced or eliminated from the request. (R. Doc. 119-2).

         1. Reasonable Hourly Rate

         Plaintiff requests reimbursement in the amount of $300/hour for the work of Andrew Bizer, a partner with sixteen years of experience, $200/hour for Garret DeReus, a partner with six years of experience, and $100/hour for their paralegal. (R. Doc. 119-1 at 4). Defendant responds with the suggestion that the rate sought for the work of Mr. DeReus be reduced ...


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