United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON ATTORNEYS' FEES
L. ROBART United States District Judge.
matter conies before the court on Plaintiff Kristen
Reetz's motion for award of attorneys' fees and
costs. (Mot. (Dkt. # 39).) Defendant Hartford Life and
Accident Insurance Company ("Hartford") opposes the
motion. (Resp. (Dkt. # 42).) Having considered the
submissions of the parties, the balance of the record, and
the relevant law, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part
Ms. Reetz's motion. For the reasons stated below, the
court awards Ms. Reetz $95, 410.00 in attorneys' fees and
$806.94 in costs.
February 16, 2018, the court granted Ms. Reetz's motion
for judgment. (See 2/16/18 Order (Dkt. # 37) at 33.)
As part of that order, the court awarded attorneys' fees
to Ms. Reetz and directed Ms. Reetz to file a motion for
attorneys' fees detailing the reasonable amount of fees
sought, (Id.) Ms. Reetz filed her motion on February
26, 2018, stating that her counsel Mel Crawford worked 157
hours at a rate of $500.00 per hour and that her counsel
Jeffrey Cowan worked 89.3 hours at a rate of $450.00 per
hour. (Mot. at 11.) Thus, in total, Ms. Reetz requests
attorneys' fees of $118, 685, 00 and costs of $806, 94.
(Id. at 12, ) Hartford responded that Ms.
Reetz's request was unreasonable and asked the court to
reduce the fees payable to $42, 350, 00. (Resp. at 1-2.) The
court now addresses the motion.
court has discretion under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1) to
award reasonable attorneys' fees and costs if a party has
achieved "some degree of success on the merits, "
Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., 560 U.S.
242, 255 (2010). The court finds that Ms. Reetz has achieved
a "degree of success on the merits" and thus is
entitled to an award of attorneys' fees and costs.
(See generally 2/16/18 Order, )
does not contend that Ms. Reetz is disqualified from an award
of attorneys' fees and costs; instead, Hartford asks the
court to reduce the award for two primary reasons: (I) some
of the time spent by Ms. Reetz's coimsel was unnecessary;
and (2) the claimed rates are excessive. (See Resp.
at 1; see generally id.)
determine whether the requested fees are reasonable, the
court applies the lodestar method. See Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). Under this method,
the court first determines a lodestar figure by multiplying
the number of hours reasonably spent on the litigation by a
reasonable hourly rate. Id. The court "may then
adjust this lodestar calculation by other factors."
Blanchard v. Bergeron, 489 U.S. 87, 94 (1989).
"The fee applicant bears the burden of documenting the
appropriate hours expended in the litigation and must submit
evidence in support of those hours worked." Welch V.
Metro. Life Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 942, 948 (9th Cir. 2007).
first contends that Ms. Reetz's attorneys' fees
should be reduced as partially unnecessary, excessive, and/or
redundant. (Id. at 3.) Hartford attacks, in
particular, the time Ms. Reetz's counsel spent on her
motion to supplement the administrative record. (See
Id. at 4; see also Mot. to Supp. (Dkt. # 14).)
Hartford also contends that the time Ms. Reetz's counsel
expended was excessive, redundant, or delegable to either
lower-rate attorneys or staff. (Resp. at 5-8.) The court,
after reviewing the time records submitted by Ms. Reetz's
attorneys (see Crawford Decl, (Dkt, # 40); Cowan
Decl. (Dkt. #41)), agrees with Hartford that some reduction
is in order, The court fmds that Mr. Crawford should be
credited with 128 hours worked and Mr. Cowan should be
credited with 69.8 hours because those are what was
reasonably spent on the litigation. See Hensley, 461
U.S. at 433.
Hartford contends that Ms. Reetz's requested rates are
excessive. A reasonable hourly rate is established by the
experience, skill, and reputation of the attorney requesting
the fee, Schwarz v. Sec 'y of Health & Human
Servs., 73 F.3d 895, 906 (9th Cir. 1995). In determining
a reasonable hourly fee, the court looks to the prevailing
market rates in the relevant community, Blum v.
Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 (1984). Having reviewed the
information submitted and considered the arguments of
counsel, the court finds Mr. Crawford's reasonable rate
is $500.00 an hour and Mr. Cowan's reasonable rate is
$450, 00 an hour.
the court finds the following lodestar figures:
(1) Utilizing 128 hours at $500.00 an hour, Mr.
Crawford's lodestar fee ...