United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
BRIAN H. SANTOS, Plaintiff,
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.
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
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.
Reasonableness of Rates
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).
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.
Reasonableness of Hours
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.
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.
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 ...