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Nugussie v. Hms Host North America

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

February 22, 2018

BEREKET NUGUSSIE, an individual; PAUL ROMOLINO, and individual, and MOHAMED ABDI, an individual, Plaintiff,
HMS HOST NORTH AMERICA, a foreign business entity, and AUTOGRILL S.p.A, a foreign corporation, Defendant.



         WHEREAS, Plaintiffs' have submitted authority and evidence supporting their Motion for Award of Attorney's Fees and Expenses; and

         WHEREAS, the Court, having considered the pleadings on file and being fully advised, finds that good cause exists for entry of the Order below; now, therefore, IT IS HEREBY FOUND, ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED THAT:

         1. Unless otherwise provided herein, all capitalized terms in this Order shall have the same meaning as set forth in the Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees and Expenses.

         2. The Court having appointed Badgley Mullins Turner, PLLC and the Law Offices of Daniel Whitmore as Class Counsel.

         3. Class Counsel has requested the Court calculate their award using the percentage-of-the-fund method. Class Counsel request the Court award 15% of the common fund as attorney's fees and expenses ($128, 500.00)

         4. These requested attorney's fees and costs are fair and reasonable under RCW 49.48.030 and the Ordinance (“SeaTac Municipal Code Chapter 7.45”) based on the percentage-of-the-fund method. The Court reaches this conclusion after analyzing: (1) the results Class Counsel achieved; (2) Class Counsel's risk in this litigation; (3) the complexity of the issues presented; (4) the hours Class Counsel worked on the case; (5) Class Counsel's hourly rate; (6) the contingent nature of the fee; and (7) awards made in similar cases.

         5. Class Counsel has submitted authority and declarations to support the Court's lodestar cross-check.

         6. Class Counsel reasonably expended more than 217.3 hours on the investigation, preparation, filing, mediation, and settlement of Plaintiff's Claims. Their detailed time records are based on contemporaneous records of hours worked. Class Counsel exercised billing judgment and billed efficiently.

         7. Class Counsel's hourly rates - $565.00 for Duncan Turner, $495.00 for Daniel Whitmore, and $310.00 for Mark Trivett - are reasonable hourly rates considering their individual “experience, skill, and reputation, ” see Trevino v. Gates, 99 F.3d 911, 924 (9th Cir. 1996) and the prevailing market rates in this District. See Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 (1984).

         8. Applying these rates to the number of hours reasonable expended in litigation, Class Counsel's lodestar is approximately $109, 444.26. This lodestar reflects work and expenses that was reasonable and necessarily expended on the pursuing Plaintiffs' claims and that are estimated to occur in concluding the case. Plaintiffs' percentage-of-the-fund request represents a lodestar multiplier of 1.17.

         9. Based on the risk Class Counsel faced in litigating the certified questions and the quality of the work they performed, this Court finds a lodestar multiplier of approximately 1.17 is fair and reasonable.

         10. A lodestar multiplier is appropriate in this case based on the risk factor. See Carlson v. Lake Chelan Cmty. Hosp., 116 Wn.App. 718, 742-43, 75 P.3d 533 (2003) (affirming application of 1.5 multiplier to lodestar); Vizcaino v. Microsoft Corp., 290 F.3d 1043, 1052-54 (9th Cir. 2002) (approving multiplier of 3.65); Steiner v. Am. Broad. Co., 248 Fed.Appx. 780, 783 (9th Cir. 2007) (approving multiplier of 6.85), Craft v. Cnty. of San Bernardino, 624 F.Supp.2d 1113, 1125 (C.D. Cal. 2008) (approving multiplier of 5.2 and stating, “there is ample authority for such awards resulting in multipliers in this range or higher.” Here, Plaintiffs pursued the action under a remedial Washington employment statute and a local minimum wage ordinance. Class Counsel pursued this action on a contingency fee basis and assumed the risk that if they were unsuccessful, they would receive no compensation for their work on the certified questions or settlement negotiations. This action involved novel and unresolved legal issues, and thus, the potential existed for a long and protracted litigation as the Court addressed its complexities.

         11. In addition, a lodestar multiplier is appropriate based on the quality of work performed by Class Counsel. Class Counsel performed high-quality work, resulting in an extremely favorable collective settlement for Class Members. Class Members recovered the entirety of their owed ...

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