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Lamont v. Jakoby Law Firm, P.C.

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

April 29, 2015

SCOTT LAMONT, Plaintiff,
v.
THE JAKOBY LAW FIRM, P.C., a Colorado Corporation dba LUKEHART AND ASSOCIATES, P.C., Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN V. ACOSTA, Magistrate Judge.

Introduction

Plaintiff Scott Lamont ("Lamont") filed this action against the Jakoby Law Firm, P.C., dba Lukehart & Associates, P.C. ("Jakoby") for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the "Act"). The court entered a default judgment, awarding Lamont $5, 000 in actual damages with interest accruing at a rate of 10 %. Lamont now seeks attorney fees in the amount of $2, 565.00. The court finds this amount is reasonable and grants Lamont's motion for attorney fees.[1]

Background

Lamont filed this action on May 16, 2014. After obtaining an extension of time to answer Lamont's complaint, Jakoby filed its answer on August 20, 2014. The parties attended an in-person Rule 16 conference on September 10, 2014, during which pretrial deadlines were discussed and extended. Shortly thereafter, the parties filed consents to jurisdiction by a magistrate judge. On November 17, 2014, counsel for Jakoby filed a motion to withdraw from representation indicating Jakoby would represent itself in all future matters. Subsequently, based on representations from Jakoby's counsel made during a telephone conference on December 8, 2014, that Jakoby had dissolved as a business entity, Jakoby's answer may be stricken, and Lamont may move for an order of default, the court granted Jakoby's motion to withdraw. Lamont immediately sought an order of default against Jakoby, which the court granted on December 11, 2014. On January 29, 2015, Lamont filed a motion for default judgment in the amount $5, 000, plus attorney fees and costs. The court entered a default judgment in favor of Lamont and against Jakoby on February 24, 2015, and directed Lamont to file his petition for costs and fees no later than March 24, 2015. Currently before this court is Lamont's motion for attorney fees.[2] Jakoby has not filed objections.

Legal Standard

The Act provides that any debt collector who fails to comply with 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. ยง 1692k(a)(3). This language makes an award of fees mandatory. Evon v. Law Offices of Sidney Mickell, 688 F.3d 1015, 1032 (9th Cir. 2012).

In determining what amount is "reasonable, " courts first "calculate the lodestar figure' by taking the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation and multiplying it by a reasonable hourly rate." Fischer v. SJB-P.D. Inc., 214 F.3d 1115, 1119 (9th Cir. 2000). The court must then decide whether to enhance or reduce the figure by evaluation the factors discussed in Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67 (9th Cir. 1975), that were not already considered in calculation of the lodestar figure. The Kerr factors include:

(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.

Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir. 1975). Only those factors that are applicable must be addressed. Sapper v. Lenco Blade, Inc., 704 F.2d 1069 (9th Cir. 1983).

"[T]here is a strong presumption' that the lodestar figure is reasonable, but that presumption may be overcome in those rare circumstances in which the lodestar does not adequately take into account a factor that may be properly considered in determining a reasonable fee." Perdue v. Kenny A., 559 U.S. 542, 554 (2010). The district court has "considerable discretion" in determining the reasonableness of a fee award. Webb v. Ada County, 195 F.3d 524, 526-7 (9th Cir. 1999).

Discussion

I. Reasonable Hourly Rate

A reasonable hourly rate is determined by looking to the "prevailing market rates in the relevant community" as well as the skill, experience, and reputation of the lawyer. Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 (1984) The party requesting the fees "has the burden of producing satisfactory evidence, in addition to the affidavits of its counsel, that the requested rates are in line with those prevailing in the community for similar services of lawyers of reasonably comparable skill and reputation." Jordan v. Multnomah County, 815 F.2d 1258, 1263 (9th Cir. 1987). The best evidence of the prevailing ...


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