United States District Court, W.D. Washington
FREDRICK and ANNALESA THOMAS; and JO-HANNA READ, as Guardian ad Litem of E.T., a minor, Plaintiffs,
JASON CANNON; BRIAN MARKERT; RYAN MICENKO; MICHAEL WILEY; MICHAEL ZARO; CITY OF FIFE; CITY OF LAKEWOOD; and PIERCE COUNTY METRO SWAT TEAM, Defendants. FREDRICK THOMAS and ANNALESA THOMAS, as Co-Administrators of the Estate of Leonard Thomas, and its statutory beneficiaries, Plaintiffs,
BRIAN MARKERT; MICHAEL WILEY; NATHAN VANCE; MICHAEL ZARO; SCOTT GREEN; JEFF RACKLEY; CITY OF FIFE; CITY OF LAKEWOOD; PIERCE COUNTY METRO SWAT TEAM; and JOHN DOES 1 through 10, Defendants. TIMEKEEPER RATE HOURS CLAIMED HOURS AWARDED TOTAL TIMEKEEPER RATE HOURS CLAIMED HOURS AWARDED TOTAL TIMEKEEPER RATE HOURS CLAIMED HOURS AWARDED TOTAL
ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF THE ESTATE'S
PETITION FOR ATTORNEY FEES, COSTS, AND EXPENSES
Barbara Jacobs Rothstein U.S. District Court Judge
the Estate of Leonard Thomas moves pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1988, 28 U.S.C. § 1920, Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(2),
and LCR 7(d)(3) for an order awarding attorneys' fees and
nontaxable expenses as the prevailing party on the judgment
entered on July 14, 2017. (ECF 252.) Plaintiff initially
requested $786, 990 in fees and $42, 387.33 in costs. (ECF
252.) In a supplemental declaration, Plaintiff requested an
additional $121, 732.50 in fees and $5, 291.90 in costs. (ECF
340.) In a final supplemental declaration, Plaintiff
requested a further $3, 062.50 in fees. (ECF 365.)
reviewed the parties' submissions, the record of the
case, and the relevant legal authority, the Court will GRANT
IN PART Plaintiff's Motion.
42 U.S.C. § 1988(b), a plaintiff who prevails under
§ 1983 “should ordinarily recover an
attorneys' fee unless special circumstances would render
such an award unjust.” Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983). Plaintiff is requesting a
“lodestar” fee, the product of the number of
attorney hours reasonably expended in the litigation
multiplied by the attorney's reasonable rate of hourly
compensation. Moreno v. City of Sacramento, 534 F.3d
1106, 1111 (9th Cir. 2008). The lodestar calculation also
includes the number of hours reasonably spent by paralegals
and investigators. See Missouri v. Jenkins, 491 U.S.
274, 277 (1989). Under the lodestar method, “a district
court must start by determining how many hours were
reasonably expended on the litigation, and then multiply
those hours by the prevailing local rate for an attorney of
the skill required to perform the litigation.”
Moreno, 534 F.3d at 1111. The number of hours to be
compensated is calculated by considering whether the time
could reasonably have been billed to a private client.
Id. (citing Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434). As a
general rule, “the court should defer to the winning
lawyer's professional judgment as to how much time he was
required to spend on the case.” Id. at 1112.
Defendants raise a number of objections to the hours and
wages claimed by Plaintiff, which the Court will address in
challenge the hourly rates charged by three individuals at
Connelly Law Offices, the firm representing Plaintiff. John
R. Connelly, the partner and lead trial counsel, requests
$625 per hour; Meaghan M Driscoll, an associate and second
chair, requests $350 per hour, and Brooke E. Marvin, a
litigation paralegal, requests $150 per hour. In determining
hourly rates, the Court must look to the “prevailing
market rates in the relevant community.” Bell v.
Clackamas County, 341 F.3d 858, 868 (9th Cir. 2003). The
rates of comparable attorneys in the forum district are
usually used. See Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d
1392, 1405 (9th Cir. 1992). In making its calculation, the
Court should also consider the experience, skill, and
reputation of the attorney requesting fees. Schwarz v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 73 F.3d 895, 906
(9th Cir. 1995). The Court is allowed to rely on its own
knowledge and familiarity with the legal market in setting a
reasonable hourly rate. Ingram v. Oroudjian, 647
F.3d 925, 928 (9th Cir. 2011).
support of his proposed rate of $625 per hour, Connelly
identifies a 2012 case where the Court approved his rate of
$550 per hour. Ostling v. City of Bainbridge Island,
No. 3:11-CV-05219-RBL, 2012 WL 4846252, at *1 (W.D. Wash.
Oct. 11, 2012). Defendants suggest $550 remains the maximum
rate that Connelly may reasonably charge. Consistent with the
Court's finding that Tim Ford is entitled to $600 per
hour for his efforts on behalf of the Thomas family
plaintiffs, the Court finds that Connelly is entitled to $600
per hour as well.
is a 2015 law school graduate with prior experience as second
chair trial counsel in a wrongful death motor vehicle
collision case. (ECF 254 at 2.) In support of her proposed
rate of $350 per hour, Driscoll provides the National Law
Journal's 2013 sampling of nationwide billing rates. (ECF
254 Ex. B.) The sampling reveals that for the Seattle market,
Perkins Coie, a large international law firm, charges $215
per hour for “associate low” and $405 per hour
for “associate average.” (Id.) Angela
Galloway, a fifth year associate for the Thomas family
plaintiffs, billed $325 per hour. (ECF 247 at 10.) Sam
Kramer, an attorney for the Thomas family plaintiffs who,
like Driscoll, graduated law school in 2015, billed $275 per
hour, which a King County Superior Court judge found
reasonable in January 2017. (Id.) The Court agrees
that this is a reasonable rate for Driscoll.
is a paralegal with over 16 years of experience. (ECF 255 at
2.) Defendants note that paralegals with unknown experience
were awarded $110 per hour in a 2016 case. Rookaird v.
Bnsf Ry. Co., No. 14-176RSL, 2016 WL 7180305, at *3
(W.D. Wash. Dec. 9, 2016). Plaintiffs, meanwhile, note that
Christy Caldwell, a paralegal for the Thomas family
plaintiffs with less experience than Marvin, billed at $175
per hour. The Court is satisfied that $150 per hour is a
reasonable rate for Marvin.
Duplicative, Unreasonable, or Vague Entries
contend that several of Plaintiff's hourly entries are
duplicative, unreasonable, or lack sufficient description.
First, Defendants object to Plaintiff's practice of
billing nine hours a day for trial, in addition to five to
seven hours each day for preparation. Including a full lunch
period and all other breaks, trial days generally lasted from
9:00 am to 4:30 pm, or 7.5 hours. Thus, the Court finds 7.5
hours to be a reasonable sum to be billed for
“trial” each day, and reduces Connelly's time
by 15 hours, Driscoll's time by 12 hours, and
Marvin's time by 15 hours. (Unlike Connelly and Marvin,
Driscoll did not bill 9 hours for trial on July 5 and July 6,
Defendants argue that Connelly should not be compensated for
the 3.8 hours spent on initial case evaluation, because he
has not put forth evidence that his firm generally charges
individuals who bring potential lawsuits to him for initial
consultations. Plaintiff does not respond to this objection,
and so Connelly's time is reduced by 3.8 hours.
ask the Court to deduct all entries for intra-office
conferences. As the Court ruled on the Thomas family
plaintiffs' fee motion, these periodic consultations were
reasonably necessary to prepare the case.
ask the Court to deduct 90 hours from Marvin's fee
petition because there was no need for the paralegal's
assistance. However, Defendants recognize that Defendants and
the Thomas family plaintiffs employed three attorneys each at
trial, while the Estate employed two attorneys and a
paralegal. The Court finds that ...