United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
CORRECTED ORDER ON MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Cynthia
Stewart's motion to correct order on attorney fees. (Dkt.
No. 106.) Having thoroughly considered the parties'
briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral
argument unnecessary and GRANTS the motion for the reasons
set forth in Plaintiff's motion. The Court hereby enters
the following amended order, correcting the amount of
litigation fees and the total fees awarded to Plaintiff and
the hourly rate sought for paralegal Troy Locati.
Cynthia Stewart brought two claims against Defendant
Snohomish County PUD No. 1 (the PUD): violation of the
Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) and violation of
her right to protected medical leave under the Family Medical
Leave Act (FMLA) and Washington Family Leave Act (WFLA).
(Dkt. No. 72 at 1.) Stewart prevailed on her WLAD claim and
the Court instructed her to bring any motion for reasonable
attorney fees and costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, and
recovery of tax consequences within 30 days. (Id. at
did so, seeking $611, 966.87 in attorney fees (the lodestar
with a multiplier, plus fees for preparing this motion and
reply); $58, 007.80 in costs; and $626, 584.00 as an offset
for adverse tax consequences, totaling $1, 296, 558.67 plus
interest. (See Dkt. No. 80 at 12; Dkt. No. 98 at 6;
see also Dkt. No. 81-2 at 54; Dkt. No. 81-3 at 19;
Dkt. No. 88 at 1, Dkt. No. 99 at 7, Dkt. No. 99-1 at 2, Dkt.
No. 101 at 3.)
objects to the fee request on multiple grounds. (See
generally Dkt. No. 90.) The PUD asks the Court to award
Stewart no more than $370, 042.20 in attorney fees, $45,
697.98 in costs, and $357, 778.00 in tax consequences and
interest, for a maximum total of $773, 518.18. (See
Id. at 12.)
and Contentiousness of Litigation:
the PUD disputes Stewart's statement that this litigation
was complex and contentious. (Dkt. No. 90 at 2.) The Court
agrees with Stewart that this case was relatively complex,
both factually and legally, particularly in light of the
fairly novel issue of prescribed narcotics in the workplace.
Moreover, it was clear from the beginning that the PUD
resolutely disputed Stewart's position. The Court rejects
the PUD's suggestion that this case was simple and that
the litigation was largely cooperative.
also argues that Stewart billed an unreasonable rate for
paralegal time, with Troy Locati billing $220.00 per hour and
Laura Faulstich raising her hourly rate from $85.00 to
$175.00 during the course of litigation. (Dkt. No. 90 at 5.)
past, the undersigned has approved a range of paralegal
rates, including $145.00 (Khalid v. Citrix Sys.
Inc., C16-0650-JCC, Dkt. No. 28 at 2), $160.00
(Alpha Energy v. L.D. Hughes Development LLC,
C08-1573-JCC, Dkt. No. 14 at 4), and $240.00 (same). The rate
charged in this case falls within that range, and the
paralegals at issue have significant experience.
(See Dkt. No. 81 at 2-3.) Moreover, a superior court
judge recently approved the hourly rate of $220.00 for
Locati. (See Dkt. No. 99 at 1-2.) The Court finds
this approval persuasive. The PUD's objection as to the
paralegal billing rates is overruled.
further asserts that the Court should reduce hours where
Stewart's counsel engaged in block-billing. (Dkt. No. 90
at 5.) While the Ninth Circuit has endorsed a district
court's reduction of block billing, see, e.g.,
Welch v. Metro Life Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 942, 948 (9th
Cir. 2007), this Court finds that Stewart's counsel's
entries “cover relatively limited amounts of time and
give sufficient information for the Court to assess the
nature of the work done.” See McEuen v. Riverview
Bancorp, Inc., 2014 WL 2197851 at *6 (W.D. Wash. May 27,
2014); (see also Dkt. No. 91-1 at 2; Dkt. No. 81-2
at 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 30,
31, 33, 38, 41, 42, 48). “[L]awyers are not required to
record in great detail how each minute of their time is spent
on a case; rather, they must only provide ...