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Muse v. Huntleigh USA Corporation

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

February 22, 2018

ALIN MUSE, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
HUNTLEIGH USA CORPORATION, a foreign corporation; RICHARD SPORN, an individual; DIANE GALFORD, an individual, Defendants.

          BADGLEY MULLINS TURNER PLLC, DUNCAN C. TURNER, WSBA # 20597, ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF

          LAW OFFICE OF DANIEL R. WHITMORE, DANIEL R. WHITMORE, WSBA NO. 24012, ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEY'S FEES AND EXPENSES

          HONORABLE ROBERT S. LASNIK, JUDGE

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff has submitted authority and evidence supporting his 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 ($172, 000.00.)

         4. These requested attorney's fees are fair and reasonable under RCW 49.48.030 and the Ordinance (“Sea Tac 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 one-hundred twenty hours on the investigation, preparation, filing, 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 jurisdiction. 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 $73, 350.50. 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.

         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 2.3 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 ...


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