United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
PATRICIA A. GAUGHAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF
Order of October 26, 2017, this Court found that Plaintiff
was the prevailing party in this litigation and entitled to
fees. Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's request for
attorney's fees in the amount of $91, 173.00 and costs in
the amount of $1, 176.00. Defendants oppose Plaintiff's
fee request, arguing that a significant portion must be
disallowed. Defendants do not oppose Plaintiff's request
for costs. For the following reasons, the Court concludes
that Plaintiff is entitled to $72, 387.00 in fees and $1,
176.00 in costs.
already determined that Plaintiff is the prevailing party,
the Court's next step is to determine a reasonable fee.
Wayne v. Village of Sebring, 36 F.3d 517, 531 (6th
Cir. 1994) (citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S.
424, 433, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 1939 (1983)). The starting point
for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is “the
lodestar” calculation, which is “the number of
hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate.” Id. Next, the court
must exclude excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary
hours. Id. Finally, the court must consider whether
the fee should be adjusted upward or downward based on
“the important factor of the ‘results
obtained.'” Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434. This
involves two questions: “First, did the plaintiff fail
to prevail on claims that were unrelated to the claims on
which he succeeded? Second, did the plaintiff achieve a level
of success that makes the hours reasonably expended a
satisfactory basis for making a fee award?”
Id. If a court determines that fees must be adjusted
downward because of this factor, it “may attempt to
identify specific hours that should be eliminated, or it may
simply reduce the award to account for the limited
success.” Id. at 436-37. The court “has
discretion in making this equitable judgment.”
Id. at 437.
party seeking fees has the burden of producing documentation
of the hours and rates in the lodestar amount, but the party
challenging the reasonableness of the requested fee has the
burden of showing that an adjustment downward is necessary.
Myers v. Mutual of Omaha Life Ins. Co., 4: 14CV 2421
(N.D. Ohio August 23, 2017) (citing Rode v.
Dellarciprete, 892 F.2d 1177, 1183 (3rd Cir. 1990)).
do not oppose the hourly rates requested by Plaintiffs: $400
per hour for attorney Andrew Margolius, and $300 per hour for
attorney Emily Gilbert. In support of these rates,
Plaintiff's counsel submitted their own declarations and
resumes, examples of cases where similar fees have been
approved, and affidavits from attorneys in the Cleveland area
opining that counsels' rates are reasonable in this
region. This evidence shows that the requested rates are fair
and typical of those in the area. The Court, therefore, finds
that they are reasonable.
Reasonableness of the hours expended
requests that his counsel be compensated for a total of
234.49 hours (208.26 hours for attorney Margolius and 26.23
hours for attorney Gilbert). Plaintiff has submitted itemized
time and expense records for both attorneys. Defendants argue
that a significant portion of these fees is unreasonable and
must be excluded. The Court will address each of
Defendants' arguments in turn.
Hours expended on unsuccessful issues
Defendants assert that Plaintiff's request must be
reduced by the number of hours that his counsel spent
pursuing issues on which Plaintiff was ultimately
unsuccessful. Specifically, they ask the Court to reduce the
hours that counsel spent on amending the complaint, pursuing
plaintiff's Motion for Limited Discovery, opposing
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, and filing Plaintiff's
Notice of Supplemental Authority in support of his motion for
attorneys fees, all of which were unsuccessful.
on an unsuccessful claim cannot be deemed to have been
‘expended in pursuit of the ultimate result
achieved.'” Hensley, 461 U.S. at 435.
Thus, fees may not be awarded for work on unsuccessful claims
that are unrelated to the ones on which the plaintiff
succeeded. Id. When claims “involve a common
core of facts” or are “based on related legal
theories, ” however, the rejection of certain grounds
is not a sufficient reason for reducing a fee. Jordan v.
City of Cleveland, 464 F.3d 584, 603 (6th Cir. 2006)
(quoting Hensley, 461 U.S. at 435).
Amending the complaint and opposing ...