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Hernandez v. Modern Construction, LLC

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 3, 2014

JOSE LUIS HERNANDEZ, a.k.a., ALEJANDRO BOLANOS GUZMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
MODERN CONSTRUCTION, LLC, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. McSHANE, District Judge.

Plaintiff filed this motionfor attorneys' fees, ECF No. 26, in the amount of $10, 450 under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), ORS § 652.200, and ORS § 653.055(4). This Court previously granted plaintiff's motion for entry of default, ECF No. 14, and plaintiff's motion for default judgment, ECF No. 18. Upon review, plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees, ECF No. 26, is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

DISCUSSION

To determine the amount of a reasonable fee, this Court proceeds in two steps. First, this Court applies the lodestar method to determine what constitutes a reasonable attorney's fee. See Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). Second, this Court may "then adjust [the lodestar] upward or downward based on a variety of factors." Gonzalez v. City of Maywood, 729 F.3d 1196, 1202 (9th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). This Court addresses the steps in sequence.

I. Lodestar Computation

"Under the lodestar method, [this Court] multiplies the number of hours the prevailing party reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate." Id. (citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). "The number of hours to be compensated is calculated by considering whether, in light of the circumstances, the time could reasonably have been billed to a private client." Moreno v. City of Sacramento, 534 F.3d 1106, 1111 (9th Cir. 2008). To determine the "reasonable hourly rate to use for attorneys and paralegals in computing the lodestar amount[, ]" this Court looks to the "prevailing market rates in the relevant community." Gonzalez, 729 F.3d at 1205 (citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted) Plaintiff seeks the following:

Name Hourly Rate Hours Claimed Total Fees Att'y Corinna Spencer-Scheurich $300 23.9 $7, 170 Att'y Michael Dale $400 3.0 $1, 200 Law Clerks $100 20.8 $2, 080

Decl. of Corinna Spencer-Scheurich 1-4, ECF No. 27-3. Upon review, this Court is satisfied that plaintiffs sought number of attorney hours, 26.9, is reasonable for the amount of work conducted on the case. Likewise, plaintiffs sought attorney hourly rates are consistent with the Oregon State Bar 2012 Economic Survey[1] in light of each attorneys' "experience, skill, and reputation." Gonzalez, 729 F.3d at 1205-206 (citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).

However, as to work performed by second and third year law students (law clerks), plaintiff has provided insufficient evidence to support an hourly rate of $100. See, e.g, Decl. of Corinna Spencer-Scheurich 6, ECF No. 27 ("We have arrived at this figure after consulting with colleagues doing Plaintiff-side employment law litigation and believe that it reflects market rates[.]"). Moreover, plaintiff provides little indication of the respective experiences and skills of the law students. Thus, this Court, in reliance on Oregon Employment Department statistics, [2] reduces the hourly rate for law student labor from $100 to $25. See also Galbraith v. Sloan, No. 10-CV-171-BR, 2011 WL 1005348, at *4 (D. Or. Mar. 22, 2011) (reducing the rate of paralegal hours from $120 to $50 where plaintiff did not provide any information regarding the reasonable hourly rates); Thompson v. LVNV Funding, Inc., No. 10-CV-1042-BR, 2011 WL 846858, at *4 (D. Or. Mar. 9, 2011).

As to the number of hours performed by the law students, this Court has additional reservations. For example, plaintiff claims 4.6 hours for work conducted on an in forma pauperis request. Decl. of Corinna Spencer-Scheurich 3, ECF No. 27-3. This Court doubts that the completion of a two-page document, particularly when both parties are fluent in Spanish, could reasonably take longer than one hour. Accordingly, this Court reduces the reasonable number of law clerk hours to 17.2.

II. Lodestar Adjustment

"After making that computation, [this Court] then assess[es] whether it is necessary to adjust the presumptively reasonable lodestar figure on the basis of (the Kerr] factors." Ballen v. City of Portland, 466 F.3d 736, 746 (9th Cir. 2006).[3] This Court, having reviewed the Kerr factors, declines to further adjust the lodestar computation. See id. ("[O]nly in in rare circumstances should a court adjust the lodestar figure, as this figure is the presumptively accurate measure of reasonable fees." (citations omitted)).

CONCLUSION

For these reasons, plaintiffs motion for attorneys' fees, ECF No. 26, is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Plaintiff is awarded attorneys' fees in the amount of $8, 800.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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