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Bund v. Safeguard Properties, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

April 28, 2017

JOHN R. BUND II, Plaintiff,
v.
SAFEGUARD PROPERTIES, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER ON ATTORNEYS' FEES

          JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Plaintiffs John R. Bund II, Mandy Hanousek, and Garett Hanousek's motion for an award of attorneys' fees. (Mot. (Dkt. # 59).) Defendant Safeguard Properties, LLC ("Safeguard") opposes the amount of fees that Plaintiffs seek. (Resp. (Dkt. # 61), ) Plaintiffs' reply and accompanying exhibits provide further support for the award of fees. (Reply (Dkt. # 63).) The court has considered the parties' submissions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Considering itself fully advised, [1] the court grants in part and denies in part Plaintiffs' motion for attorney's fees and costs as described herein.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs bring a putative class action against Safeguard alleging claims for trespass (SAC (Dkt. # 44) ¶¶ 7.1-7.7), intentional trespass under RCW 4.24.630 (id. ¶¶ 8.1-8, 15), violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act ("CPA"), RCW ch. 19.86 (id. ¶¶ 9.1-9.9), and conversion (id. ¶¶ 10.1-10.9). Plaintiffs seek to recover for damages to real and personal property allegedly incurred while Safeguard was conducting property preservation services on behalf of Plaintiffs' lenders. (Generally id.)

         Safeguard filed a motion to dismiss the class claims. (MTD (Dkt. # 14).) The court denied the motion to dismiss and ruled that pre-discovery dismissal of class allegations was not proper in this case. (12/30/16 Order (Dkt. # 43).) Despite this order, Safeguard filed a motion to disqualify and remove the Hanouseks as class representatives prior to conducting sufficient discovery. (See DQ Mot. (Dkt. # 49).) The court denied the motion to disqualify, and because the motion filed was contray to the coury's previous order, permitted Plaintiffs to file a motion for costs incurred in responding to Safeguard's motion to disqualify. (See Min, Entry (Dkt. # 58).)

         Plaintiffs moved for fees consistent with the court's minute entry. (.See generally Mot). Safeguard asserts that the requested fees are not reasonable. (Resp.) The court now addresses Plaintiffs' motion.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Legal Standard

         To determine whether requested fees are reasonable, the court applies the lodestar method. See Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). Under this method, the court first determines a lodestar figure by multiplying the number of hours reasonably spent on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate. Id. The court "may then adjust this lodestar calculation by other factors." Blanchard v. Bergeron, 489 U.S. 87, 94 (1989), "The fee applicant bears the burden of documenting the appropriate hours expended in the litigation and must submit evidence in support of those hours worked." Welch v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 942, 948 (9th Cir. 2007).

         A reasonable hourly rate corresponds to the prevailing market rate in the relevant community considering the experience, skill, and reputation of the attorneys in question. Chalmers v. City of LA., 796 F!2d 1205, 1210 (9th Cir. 1986), amended on other grounds, 808 F.2d 1373 (9th Cir. 1987). In assessing whether the attorneys spent a reasonable number of hours on the litigation, courts may consider, among other factors: the time and labor required, novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, the skill necessary to perform the legal services properly, the time limitations imposed by the client or circumstances, the amount in controversy involved and the results obtained, and the experience, reputation, and ability of the attorneys. LaFarge Conseils et Etudes, S.A. v. Kaiser Cement & Gypsum Corp., 791 F.2d 1334, 1341-42 (9th Cir. 1986) (citing Kerr v. Screen Extra Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 69-70 (9th Cir. 1975)). The court need only apply those factors that are relevant to the particular case. See Kerr, 526 F.2d at 70.

         B. Application

         Plaintiffs request the $7, 457.75 in attorney's fees for 29 hours of work performed by three attorneys, Clay M. Gatens, Sally F. White, and Devon A. Gray, billed at rates ranging from $205.00 to $330.00 an hour. (Mot. at 2.) In support of their instant motion, Plaintiffs submit a Matter Ledger Report ("the Report") detailing the fees attributed to the motion to disqualify. (See White Decl. (Dkt. # 60), Ex. A.) Upon review of the billing record, the court concludes that Plaintiffs are entitled to most but not all of the fees they request.

         1. ...


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