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Miller v. Equifax Information Services, LLC

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 23, 2014

JULIE MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

MICHAEL C. BAXTER, JUSTIN M. BAXTER, KACHELLE A. BAXTER, Baxter & Baxter, LLP, Portland, OR, MAUREEN LEONARD, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

IAN E. SMITH, LEWIS P. PERLING, PHYLLIS B. SUMNER, King & Spalding LLP, Atlanta, GA, JEFFERY M. EDELSON, Markowitz Herbold Glade & Mehlhaf, PC, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Julie Miller's Motion for Attorneys' Fees (#111), Motion (#121) for Additional Attorneys' Fees, and Bill of Costs (#114).

For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Miller's Motion for Attorneys' Fees, GRANTS in part Miller's Motion for Additional Attorneys' Fees, and awards attorneys' fees to Miller in the amount of $302, 002.50. The Court also awards costs to Miller in the amount of $380.00.

BACKGROUND

Miller filed this action in October 12, 2011, against Defendant Equifax Information Services, LLC, for negligent violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq.

On July 23, 2013, the matter proceeded to trial.

On July 26, 2013, the jury returned a Verdict in which it found in favor of Miller. The jury awarded Miller actual damages in the amount of $180, 000 and punitive damages in the amount of $18, 400, 000.

On January 29, 2014, the Court granted Equifax's Motion (#91) for Reduction of Punitive Damages and reduced the jury's punitive-damages award to $1, 620, 000.

On February 28, 2014, Miller filed her Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Bill of Costs. On March 27, 2014, Miller filed her Reply (#121) in Support of the Motion for Attorneys' Fees in which she requested additional attorneys' fees, which the Court construes as a Motion for Additional Attorneys' Fees. The Court took Miller's Motions (#111, #121) and Bill of Costs (#114) under advisement on March 27, 2014.

MILLER'S MOTION (#111) FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES

I. Attorneys' Fees Under FCRA

FCRA provides: "[I]n the case of any successful action to enforce any liability under this section" the consumer is entitled to "the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney's fees as determined by the court." 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681n(a) (3), 1681o(a) (2).

As noted, Miller's action against Equifax was successful, and, therefore, she is entitled to attorneys' fees and costs under FCRA.

II. Standards

Under federal fee-shifting statutes such as FCRA "the lodestar approach" is "the guiding light" in determining a reasonable fee. Perdue v. Kenny A., 130 S.Ct. 1662, 1671-73 (2010) (internal quotation omitted). Under the lodestar method the court first determines the appropriate hourly rate for the work performed and then multiplies that amount by the number of hours properly expended in doing the work. Id. Although "in extraordinary circumstances" the amount produced by the lodestar calculation may be increased, "there is a strong presumption that the lodestar is sufficient." Id. at 1669. The party seeking an award of fees bears "the burden of documenting the appropriate hours expended in the litigation, and [is] required to submit evidence in support of those hours worked." United Steelworkers of Am. v. Retirement Income Plan For Hourly-rated Emps. Of Asarco, Inc., 512 F.3d 555, 565 (9th Cir. 2008) (quotations omitted). When "determining the appropriate number of hours to be included in a lodestar calculation, the district court should exclude hours that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.'" Mccown v. City of Fontana, 565 F.3d 1097, 1102 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983)).

To determine the lodestar amount, the court may consider the following factors:

(1) the time and labor required;
(2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved;
(3) the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
(4) the preclusion of other employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case;
(5) the customary fee;
(6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent;
(7) any time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances;
(8) the amount involved and the results obtained;
(9) the experience, reputation, and ability of the attorneys;
(10) the undesirability of the case;
(11) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client; and
(12) awards in similar cases.

Fischel v. Equitable Life Assur. Soc'y of U.S., 307 F.3d 997, 1007 n.7 (9th Cir. 2002) (quotation omitted). A rote recitation of the relevant factors is unnecessary as long as the court adequately explains the basis for the award of attorneys' fees. McGinnis v. Kentucky Fried Chicken of Cal., 51 F.3d 805, 809 (9th Cir. 1995).

The lodestar amount is presumed to be the reasonable fee, and, therefore, "a multiplier may be used to adjust the lodestar amount upward or downward only in rare and exceptional cases, supported by both specific evidence on the record and detailed findings by the lower courts.'" Summers v. Carvist Corp., 323 F.Appx. 581, 582 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Van Gerwen v. Guarantee Mut. Life Co., 214 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2000)). "Adjustments [to the lodestar amount] must be carefully tailored... and [made] only to the extent a factor has not been subsumed within the lodestar calculation." Rouse v. Law Offices of Rory Clark, 603 F.3d 699, 704 (9th Cir. 2009) ...


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