United States District Court, D. Oregon
FORD MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY LLC, fka MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY, Plaintiff,
DAVID L. GILBERT, ROBERT G. ILER, and BRUCE-GILBERT, INC., Defendants.
A. RUSSO United States Magistrate Judge.
Ford Motor Credit Company LLC initiated this action against
defendants David Gilbert, Robert Iler, and Bruce-Gilbert,
Inc. A default judgment was subsequently entered against all
defendants. Plaintiff now moves for an award of attorney fees
in the amount of $26, 275, costs in the amount of $819.99,
and additional expenses in the amount of $604.58. For the
reasons set forth below, attorney fees are awarded in the
reduced sum of $16, 433.80, costs are awarded in full, and
expenses are disallowed.
August 25, 2015, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court
asserting claims premised on defendants' alleged material
breach of the parties' capital loan agreement. On
December 1, 2015, plaintiff moved for default based on
defendants' failure to timely answer or otherwise respond
to the complaint. The Court granted plaintiff's motion
and entered default against defendants on January 25, 2016.
February 3, 2017, plaintiff moved for a default judgment and
attorney fees, costs, and expenses. On April 11, 2017, the
Court granted judgment against defendants but denied
plaintiff's motion in all other respects. On May 11,
2017, plaintiff filed motions for attorney fees, expenses,
to the prevailing party's motion, the court may award
reasonable attorney fees and costs. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d);
LR 54. In determining a reasonable attorney fee, the
court employs the lodestar method by first multiplying
“the number of hours the prevailing party reasonably
expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly
rate.” Morales v. City of San Rafael, 96 F.3d
359, 363 (9th Cir. 1996) (as amended). The court then
considers whether it is necessary to adjust the presumptively
reasonable lodestar figure in light of the twelve factors
articulated in Kerr v. Screen Guild Extras, Inc.,
526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir. 1975). Id.
court is required to ensure an award's reasonableness,
irrespective of any opposition from the non-prevailing party.
Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1400-02 (9th
Cir. 1992); see also Corder v. Gates, 947
F.2d 374, 378 n. 3 (9th Cir. 1991) (“the reasonable
fee, as calculated by the district court, may fall short of
the actual fee that the plaintiff's lawyer
charges”) (citation and internal quotations omitted).
“[C]onsiderable discretion [is vested in the court] in
determining what attorney's fee is reasonable.”
Webb v. Ada Cnty., Idaho, 195 F.3d 524, 526-27 (9th
undisputed that plaintiff is the prevailing party and
therefore entitled to attorney fees pursuant to the
parties' contract. See generally Ayres Aff.
(doc. 15); Judgment (doc. 16). Accordingly,
the primary issue before the Court is the reasonableness of
the requested rates and hours.
Reasonableness of the Requested Rates
employed two Portland, Oregon, attorneys (Jason Ayres and
Kimberly McGair), five attorneys admitted pro hac
vice from Buffalo, New York (Joanna Dickinson, Paul
Morrison-Taylor, Craig Leslie, Joanna Chen, and Michael
Silverstein), and two paralegals (Laura Kryta and Kathleen
Biddle) on this matter. Ayres Decl. ¶¶ 3-5
(doc. 18); Dickinson Decl. ¶¶ 3-4
(doc. 19). Plaintiff seeks the following hourly
rates: $275 for Ayres, who has 17 years of experience; $340
for McGair, who has 19 years of experience; $270-$285 for
Dickinson, who has 15 years of experience; $380-$390 for
Morrison-Taylor, who has 37 years of experience; $345-$360
for Leslie, who has 20 years of experience; $190 for Chen,
who has six years of experience; $185 for Silverstein, who
has four years of experience; and $165 for Kryta and
$130-$135 for Biddle. Id.
reasonable rate for legal services is “calculated
according to the prevailing market rates in the relevant
community.” McElmurry v. U.S. Bank Nat'l
Ass'n, 2008 WL 1925119, *3 (D. Or. Apr. 30, 2008)
(quoting Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 (1984)).
“This District considers the most recent Oregon State
Bar Economic Survey” - i.e. the 2012 Oregon State
Economic Survey (“2012 OSB Survey”) - as its
‘initial benchmark' in determining whether hourly
billing rates are reasonable.” Prison Legal News v.
Umatilla Cnty., 2013 WL 2156471, *4 (D. Or. May 16,
2013) (citations omitted). “If the rate requested
exceeds the average rate reported in the OSB Survey, the
burden is on the prevailing party to justify that higher
rate.” Id. (citation omitted).
plaintiff implies that the “relevant communities”
for the purposes of determining a reasonable hourly rate are
Buffalo, New York, and Portland, Oregon, because that is
where counsel is located. See, e.g., Ayres Decl.
¶ 5 (doc. 18); Dickinson Decl. ¶ 5
(doc. 19). The Court disagrees and finds that the
“Lower Valley” - which the 2012 OSB Survey
defines as “Benton, Lane, and Linn Counties” -
should serve as the relevant community. 2012 OSB Survey
5. Notably, plaintiff filed this case in the Eugene
Division, which encompasses, amongst others, Benton, Lane,
and Linn counties. See Prison Legal News, 2013 WL
2156471 at *5 (“[t]he general rule is that the relevant
community for purposes of the prevailing rate is the forum in
which the district court sits”) (citation and internal
quotations omitted). Further, plaintiff does not provide any
argument or evidence evincing that local counsel was
unavailable or inadequate. See generally Pl.'s
Mot. Att'y Fees (doc. 17); Ayres Decl. (doc.
18); Dickinson Decl. (doc. 19); see