United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
J. Bowman, M.J
Stephanie K. Bowman United States Magistrate Judge
civil action is now before the Court on Defendant's
Motion to Set Reasonable Attorneys' Fee (Doc. 63), and
Plaintiffs' responsive memorandum (Doc. 64). In the
motion, Defendant asks the Court to set a reasonable
attorneys' fee relating to Plaintiffs' filing of its
motion to strike the affidavit of Timothy Krehbiel.
Defendant's position is that the $5, 590 fee requested by
Plaintiffs should be reduced because the billing records (1)
contain entries unrelated to the motion to strike; (2)
contain block-billed entries that should be reduced by fifty
percent; (3) include clerical tasks for which they may not be
compensated; and (4) reflect an hourly rate beyond what
Plaintiffs' counsel is charging their own client.
Defendant requests a reasonable fee award in the range of $3,
Facts and Background
complaint alleges that Miami University violated the Equal
Pay Act. Plaintiffs, who are professors in the Farmer College
of Business at Miami University, claim they are compensated
less than their male colleagues because of their gender.
discovery ended, Defendant filed a motion for summary
judgment to which it attached an Affidavit from Timothy
Krehbiel. Krehbiel's affidavit provided a concise
explanation for the raises received by the two male
colleagues who Plaintiffs assert are comparators in this
case. Plaintiffs claimed that Defendant never disclosed
Krehbiel as a witness with knowledge of how the salary
disparity occurred. As such, Plaintiff filed a motion to
strike the affidavit of Krehbiel.
review, the Court found no basis to strike Krehbiel's
affidavit on summary judgment, but declined to rule on
whether Krehbiel could testify at trial. The Court indicated,
however, that it was troubled that initial disclosures were
not made by Defendant and that Krehbiel's name was not
specifically listed as a witness. It therefore permitted
Plaintiffs to depose Krehbiel prior to responding to
Defendant's motion for summary judgment, and ordered
Defendant to pay Plaintiffs' fees associated with the
filing of their motion to strike and reply memorandum. (Doc.
61, PageId. 1320-21).
letter dated June 1, 2017, Plaintiffs' counsel requested
that Defendant pay fees in the amount of $8, 509 pursuant to
the Court's order. (Doc. 63-1, PageId. 1337).
Although it is not clear precisely how that amount was
calculated, the billing records included in the letter
contain 36.1 hours of associate time at an hourly rate of
$235 (10 of which were reduced to a paralegal rate of $90 per
hour) and 6 hours of partner time at an hourly rate of $400.
(Id., PageId. 1334-37).
counsel immediately responded to the fee request, indicating
that it did not believe the fee to be reasonable because some
matters billed were outside the scope of the Court's
Order and many billing entries were in a form that did not
allow for a determination of reasonableness of individual
tasks. (Doc. 63-2, PageId. 1338). Defendant offered
to pay $2, 500 in fees to Plaintiffs to satisfy the
Court's Order. (Id.).
letter dated June 23, 2017, Plaintiffs' counsel declined
the $2, 500 offer and requested a reduced fee of $5, 590.
(Doc. 63-3, PageId. 1342). The fee amount included
10 hours of associate time billed at paralegal hourly rate of
$90, 10 hours of associate time billed at the hourly rate of
$235, and 5.85 hours of partner time at an hourly rate of
counsel subsequently provided to Defendant the time slips
containing the billing entries referenced in the June 21 and
23, 2017 letters. (Doc. 63-4, PageId. 1343-49).
These billing entries differed from those in the letters and
reflected a paralegal hourly rate of $80, an associate hourly
rate of $150, and a partner hourly rate of $350.
now seeks an Order from this Court setting a reasonable fee
to be paid to Plaintiffs, which it claims is in the range of
$3, 000. (Doc. 63). Plaintiffs, on the other hand, claim that
their requested amount of $5, 590 is a discounted amount that
is reasonable and appropriate. (Doc. 64, PageId.
party seeking an award of attorneys' fees bears the
burden of showing the requested award is reasonable in terms
of both hours expended and hourly rates. Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437 (1983); Graceland
Fruit, Inc. v. KIC Chemicals, Inc., 320 F. App'x
323, 328 (6th Cir. 2008). “In the discovery sanctions
context, this includes the burden of demonstrating the
requisite causal relationship between the Rule 37 violation
and the activity for which fees are sought.” Crozin
v. Crown Appraisal Group, Inc., No. 2:10-cv-581, 2012 WL
1186520, at *4 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 6, 2012). When submitting a
fee request to a district court, counsel “should make a
good faith effort to exclude from a fee request hours that
are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.”