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Sears v. Sheelar

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 26, 2014

LINDSAY SEARS, Plaintiff,
v.
SARAH M. SHEELAR, Defendants.

ORDER

THOMAS M. COFFIN, Magistrate Judge.

After a three day trial in which nine witnesses testified, plaintiff prevailed on her civil rights claim that she was arrested without probable cause. The jury returned a verdict of $57, 400 in economic damages and $15, 000 in non-economic damages based upon claims of $62, 500 and $25, 000 respectively. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her state-law claims just prior to trial and her claim for punitive damages was not allowed to go to the jury.

Presently before this court are plaintiffs motions for attorney fees (#104, #108) and the Bill of Costs (#106).

A. Costs

Plaintiff seeks $1, 422 in the Bill of Costs and additional costs and expenses in the amount of $835.37. Defendant's Response to Fees and Costs (#116) does not address the costs and expenses and they are allowed.

B. Attorney Fees

Plaintiff seeks attorney fees in the amount of $134, 880. Defendant does object to the amount of attorney fees.

Plaintiff, as the party seeking fees, has the burden of showing that time spent by his attorney was reasonably necessary. Gates v. Deukmajian , 987 F.2d 1392, 1397 (9th Cir. 1992); Frank Music Corp. v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. , 886 F.2d 1545, 1557 (9th Cir. 1989). In order to support a finding of reasonableness, plaintiff must document the hours spent in the litigation and provide evidence supporting those hours. Gates , 987 F.2d at 1397. Defendants, as the parties opposing the fees, must then rebut plaintiffs evidence by "challenging the accuracy and reasonableness of the hours charged or the facts asserted by the prevailing party in [his] submitted affidavits." Id. at 1397-98.

In determining the reasonableness of fees, the court is not required to respond to each specific objection. Id. at 1400. Rather, all that is required is a "concise but clear" explanation of reasons for the fee award. Id.

Calculating a "reasonable attorney's fee" involves a two pronged approach. A court must first calculate a lodestar figure by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation times a reasonable hourly rate. Blum v. Stenson , 465 U.S. 886, 888, 104 S.Ct. 1541, 1543 (1984). This lodestar figure is presumed to represent an appropriate fee. Under certain circumstances, however, a court may adjust the award upward or downward to take into account the Kerr factors not subsumed within the initial lodestar calculation. Cunningham v. County of Los Angeles , 879 F.2d 481, 487 (9th Cir. 1988).[1]

Defendant concedes that an award of attorney fees is permissible in this action. Defendant does object to the hourly rate and the number of hours expended.

1. Hourly Rates

Reasonable hourly rates are those that the local legal market would pay for a case of this nature to a lawyer of comparable skill, experience, and reputation to plaintiffs counsel of record. Blum , 465 U.S. at 897. Blum, instructs courts to look at the prevailing rates in the relevant market. Id. at 895, n. 11.

Plaintiffs counsel seek rates of $400 per hour. Defendant objects and asserts that the hourly rates for the attorneys exceed ...


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