Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Santos v. U.S. Bank National Association

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

January 18, 2018

BRIAN H. SANTOS, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART SUPPLEMENTAL MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter initially came before the Court on Defendant U.S. Bank National Association's (“U.S. Bank”) Second Motion to Compel Discovery, which included a request for attorneys' fees and costs. Dkt. #43 at 11. On December 20, 2017, the Court granted Defendant's motion, granted Defendant's request for attorney's fees, and directed Defendant to file a supplemental motion, appending the evidence necessary to support its request. Dkt. #50. Defendant has since filed that supplemental motion. Dkt. #51. Plaintiff opposes the motion in part, arguing that Defendant has requested an unreasonable amount of hours given the circumstances of this case. Dkt. #52. Defendant now asks the Court for a total award of $29, 371.00. For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendant's motion.

         II. DISCUSSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         “When it sets a fee, the district court must first determine the presumptive lodestar figure by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by the reasonable hourly rate.” Intel Corp. v. Terabyte Int'l, Inc., 6 F.3d 614, 622 (9th Cir. 1993). The reasonable hourly rate is determined with reference to the prevailing rates charged by attorneys of comparable skill and experience in the relevant community. See Blum v. Stetson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 (1984). In determining the reasonable number of hours expended on the litigation, the Court may exclude any excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary hours billed. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983). The Court may also adjust the lodestar with reference to factors set forth in Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 69-70 (9th Cir. 1975). The relevant Kerr factors are: (1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions; and (3) the skill requisite to perform the legal services properly. “The lodestar amount presumably reflects the novelty and complexity of the issues, the special skill and experience of counsel, the quality of representation, and the results obtained from the litigation.” Intel, 6 F.3d at 622.

         B. Reasonableness of Rates

         The Court first examines the hourly rate for time billed by its counsel requested by Defendant. Defendant seeks a billing rate of $420 per hour for the work performed by attorney Shawn Larsen-Bright, and $212 per hour (2016) and $248 per hour (2017) for the work performed by attorney Brian Janura, both of whom worked for the firm Dorsey & Whitney LLP, and $372 per hour for the work performed by attorney Aaron A. Wagner, $300 per hour for the work performed by attorney Meagan S. Tom, and $188 per hour for the work performed by paralegal Kathrin Bishop, the three of whom work for the firm Locke Lord LLP. Dkts. #51-1 at ¶ ¶ 8-9 and #51-2 at ¶ ¶ 9 and 11. “The party seeking fees bears the burden of documenting the hours expended in the litigation and must submit evidence supporting . . . the rates claimed.” Welch v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 942, 945-46 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433). In the Ninth Circuit, “the determination of a reasonable hourly rate ‘is not made by reference to the rates actually charged the prevailing party.'” Welch, 480 F.3d at 946 (quoting Mendenhall v. Nat'l Transp. Safety Bd., 213 F.3d 464, 471 (9th Cir. 2000)). “Rather, billing rates should be established by reference to the fees that private attorneys of an ability and reputation comparable to that of prevailing counsel charge their paying clients for legal work of similar complexity.” Id. (internal quotation omitted). “Affidavits of the plaintiffs' attorney and other attorneys regarding prevailing fees in the community, and rate determinations in other cases, particularly those setting a rate for the plaintiffs' attorney, are satisfactory evidence of the prevailing market rate.” United Steelworkers of Am. v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 896 F.2d 403, 407 (9th Cir. 1990). “Generally, when determining a reasonable hourly rate, the relevant community is the forum in which the district court sits.” Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 979 (9th Cir. 2008) (vacating award of attorneys' fees in Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case where district court failed to identify the relevant community or address the prevailing market rate).

         In this case, Defendant has presented evidence supporting the reasonableness of the rates requested in this market. See Dkts. #51-1 and #51-2. Given the Court's familiarity with the market and the rates typically charged by experienced attorneys in these types of cases, the Court finds the rates to be reasonable. The Court also notes that Plaintiff does not challenge any of the hourly rates requested by Defendant.

         C. Reasonableness of Hours

         The Court now turns to the reasonableness of the hours requested. “The party seeking fees bears the burden of documenting the hours expended in the litigation and must submit evidence supporting” the request. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433. As noted above, the Court excludes those hours that are not reasonably expended because they are “excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.” Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434. Further, the Ninth Circuit has held it is reasonable for a district court to conclude that the party seeking attorney's fees fails to carry its burden of documenting the hours expended when that party engages in “block billing” because block billing makes it more difficult to determine how much time was spent on particular activities. Welch v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 942, 948 (9th Cir. 2007). Likewise, intra-office conferences between experienced counsel, absent persuasive justification by the moving party, may be excluded from an award as unnecessary and duplicative. See Id. at 949.

         Defendants have presented a detailed description of the time spent defending this action. Dkt. #46-1. The Court notes that Defendant was initially represented by counsel from Dorsey & Whitney, who prepared and filed a motion to compel. See Dkt. #51-1. The Court thereafter stayed this matter and struck the motion, noting that Defendant could renew the motion if and when the stay was lifted. Dkt. #28. The stay was subsequently lifted, and Defendant, who was by that time represented by new counsel from Locke Lord, then filed a second motion to compel. See Dkt. #51-2. Plaintiff argues that the fees incurred by the Locke Lord firm should not be granted because the second motion to compel is duplicative of the initial motion to compel. Dkt. #52 at 3. The Court agrees with Plaintiff in part.

         The Court has reviewed Defendant's attorneys' billing entries. Dkts. #51-1 and #51-2. With respect to the time incurred by Dorsey & Whitney, the Court finds all time requested to be reasonable, with the exception of one time entry which appears to be duplicative. Accordingly, the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.