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Astar Air Cargo, Inc. v. Miller

July 19, 2006

ASTAR AIR CARGO, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
JEFFREY MILLER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: District Judge Susan J. Dlott

ORDER AWARDING PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS

This matter comes before the Court on the Notice of Submission by Plaintiff Astar Air Cargo, Inc., of Accounting of Fees and Costs Pursuant to the May 25, 2006 Court Order (doc. #11). On May 25, 2006, this Court entered an Order granting Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and Award Attorney's Fees (doc. #6) and denying as moot Defendant's Motion to Remand (doc. #7). (Doc. #9.) In that Order, the Court held that Plaintiff was entitled to attorney's fees and costs incurred as a result of Defendant's improper removal and ordered Plaintiff to provide an accounting of those fees and costs. Plaintiff has since filed that accounting. (See doc. #9.)

Plaintiff bears the burden of documenting its entitlement to attorney's fees and must "submit evidence supporting the hours worked and rates claimed." See Reed v. Rhodes, 179 F.3d 453, 472 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 421, 432 (1983)). To determine whether Plaintiff's requested fees are reasonable, the Court must consider the reasonableness of both the total hours Plaintiff's counsel expended on the motion to remand and his billing rates. See, e.g., Barnes v. City of Cincinnati, 401 F.3d 729, 745 (6th Cir. 2005) (internal citations omitted).

1. Hours Expended

In evaluating the time counsel has expended on a case, the Court must "focus upon the significance of overall relief obtained" and exclude "excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary hours." U.S. Structures, Inc. v. J. P. Structures, Inc., 130 F.3d 1185, 1193 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing Hensley, 451 U.S. at 433-34).

Here, Plaintiff submits that its counsel spent a total of 9.85 hours on its Motion to Remand. Plaintiff submits that for that work, he incurred fees and costs of $2,583.00 -- $1133.00 from work of his Chicago counsel and $1450.00 from work of his Cincinnati counsel. (See doc. #11-2 (Pepper Declaration) at 1 and Exs. 1 and 2.) Defendant argues that the 1.5 hours of work of Evelyn Becker, Plaintiff's lead Chicago counsel, was unnecessary and/or duplicative of the efforts of two of Plaintiff's other attorneys, and therefore challenges Plaintiff's request for the $825.00 she billed on the Motion. (Doc. #12 at 1.) The Court agrees and therefore will not award Plaintiff the $825.00 Ms. Becker charged for her time.

2. Hourly Rate*fn1

While an attorney's customary hourly rate often serves as a reference point in computing fee awards, it does not necessarily constitute a reasonable rate for purposes of every fee award. Rather, this Court has the discretion to determine what hourly rates are reasonable in the circumstances of each case. See Hudson v. Reno, 130 F.3d 1193, 1208-09 (6th Cir. 1997) (internal citations omitted), abrogated on other grounds by Pollard v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 532 U.S. 843 (2001). In the exhibits to his affidavit, Timothy Pepper, Plaintiff's Cincinnati counsel, reported that for counsels' work on the Motion for which the Court is awarding fees, Astar was charged his hourly rate of $200.00 and his co-counsel Adam Hellmen's hourly rate of $280.00. (Doc. #11-2 at Exs. 1, 2). The Court finds that these hourly rates are reasonable and commensurate with those of other lawyers in counsels' communities.

For the reasons above, the Court ORDERS Defendant to pay Plaintiff $1758.00 in attorney's fees and costs.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Susan J. Dlott United States ...


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