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Dupree v. Harrington

United States District Court, District of Oregon, Portland Division

February 3, 2015

CYNTHIA DUPREE, Plaintiff,
v.
HARRINGTON, ANDERSON & DeBLASIO, Defendants.

Joshua R. Trigsted Trigsted Law Group, P.C. Attorney for Plaintiff

Peter D. Eidenberg Keating Jones Hughes, P.C. Attorneys for Defendant

OPINION AND ORDER

Garr M. King, United States District Judge

After a contentious time litigating her Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) claim, plaintiff accepted defendant’s Offer of Judgment for damages in the amount of $1, 401. Litigation of the merits of the claim required my intervention to resolve a discovery dispute. Counsel was also unable to agree on attorney fees or costs as part of the Offer of Judgment, leaving the issue to me. Before the court is Plaintiff’s Motion for an Award of Attorney Fees and Costs [32] and Bill of Costs [34].

LEGAL STANDARDS

The FDCPA provides that any debt collector who violates its provisions is liable “in the case of any successful action . . . [for] the costs of the action, together with a reasonable attorney’s fee as determined by the court.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(3). The award of fees is mandatory under the Act. Evon v. Law Offices of Sidney Mickell, 688 F.3d 1015, 1032 (9th Cir. 2012). In addressing a petition for attorney fees, the court must first determine the “lodestar” amount by multiplying the number of hours reasonably spent on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate. Id. at 1033 n.11. The district court may adjust the lodestar figure upward or downward after considering twelve “reasonableness” 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) 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.

Id.

DISCUSSION

I. Attorney Fees

Plaintiff seeks attorney fees in the amount of $11, 686, calculated as 42.10 hours incurred by counsel at the rate of $250 per hour and 8.6 hours incurred by counsel’s paralegal at the rate of $135 per hour. Defendant raises several arguments against a full award of fees.

Defendant objects to the $250 per hour rate, arguing that plaintiff’s counsel has an office in Lake Oswego, not in downtown Portland, and thus in the 2012 OSB Economic Survey, he should be compared to the rates for attorneys practicing in the Tri-County region rather than attorneys practicing in Portland. The Survey defines the Downtown Portland region to include only eleven ZIP codes located in the core of downtown Portland and the Pearl; the Survey defines the Tri-County region as the remainder of Portland and Multnomah Counties, plus Clackamas and Washington Counties. Plaintiff’s counsel definitely practices in the Tri-County area as defined by the Survey. I agree with defendant that it is more appropriate to use the Tri-County region when consulting the Survey.

For attorneys with seven to nine years of experience practicing in the Tri-County region, like plaintiff’s counsel, the average hourly rate is $209 and the median is $200. Plaintiff’s requested rate of $250 is somewhere between the 75th and 95th percentile. I see nothing to justify the higher rate, so I will use the median hourly rate of $200.

Defendant contends the $135 hourly rate for the paralegal is far above national average. Defendant provides a Compensation Survey Report from NALA, the Association of Legal Assistants and Paralegals, which shows the average hourly rate for a person with seven years of experience, as in this case, is $113. ...


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