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Aichele v. Blue Elephant Holdings, LLC

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 24, 2018

CHERYL AICHELE, Plaintiff,
v.
BLUE ELEPHANT HOLDINGS, LLC, a domestic business corporation doing business as the Human Collective II, and DONALD MORSE, Defendants.

          CRAIG A. CRISPIN ASHLEY A. MARTON CRISPIN EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF

          OPINION AND ORDER

          ANNA J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Cheryl Aichele's Motion (#91) for Attorney Fees and Motion (#88) for Costs, Expenses, and Expert Witness Costs. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS in part Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney Fees and AWARDS Plaintiff attorneys' fees of $176, 907.50 and paralegal fees of $17, 768.40. The Court also GRANTS in part Plaintiff's Motion for Costs, Expenses, and Expert Witness Costs and AWARDS Plaintiff costs of $16, 097.21.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint in the Multnomah County Circuit Court, State of Oregon. Plaintiff alleged claims for retaliation in violation of Title VII, 42, U.S.C. § 2000e-3; retaliation in violation of Oregon Revised Statutes § 659A.030(1)(f) and § 654.062(5); and whistleblowing pursuant to Oregon Revised Statutes § 659A.199.

         On November 11, 2016, Defendants Blue Elephant Holdings, Inc., and Donald Morse removed Plaintiff's case to this court.

         On August 7, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion (#31) for Summary Judgment.

         On November 13, 2017, the Court issued an Opinion and Order (#56) in which it granted Defendants' Motion as to Plaintiff's claims against Morse and dismissed those claims. The Court, however, denied Defendants' Motion as to Plaintiff's claims against Blue Elephant.

         On November 27, 2017, counsel filed a Motion (#57) to Withdraw as attorneys for Defendants.

         On December 13, 2017, following notice to Blue Elephant and providing it with an opportunity to obtain new counsel, the Court granted counsel's Motion to Withdraw. Order #63.

         On December 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion (#64) to Strike Blue Elephant's Answer and for Entry of Default against Blue Elephant.

         On January 18, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion, struck Blue Elephant's Answer, and entered default against Blue Elephant. Order #66.

         On January 31, 2018, Defendant filed a Motion (#69) for Entry of Judgment.

         On March 22, 2018, the Court held an evidentiary hearing regarding Plaintiff's damages at which Plaintiff and an expert testified.

         On March 27, 2018, the Court entered Judgment (#84) against Blue Elephant and awarded Plaintiff $20, 160.00 in economic damages and $150, 000.00 in noneconomic damages.

         On April 10, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion (#91) for Attorney Fees and a Bill of Costs (#88). Plaintiff seeks attorneys' fees and fees for legal assistants and paralegals in the amount of $202, 926.00 and costs in the amount of $16, 980.00.

         DISCUSSION

         As noted, in her Complaint Plaintiff alleged claims for retaliation in violation of Title VII, 42, U.S.C. § 2000e-3; retaliation in violation of Oregon Revised Statutes § 659A.030(1)(f) and § 654.062(5); and whistleblowing pursuant to Oregon Revised Statutes § 659A.199.

         I. Attorneys' Fees, Legal Assistant Fees, and Paralegal Fees.

         Plaintiff obtained a Judgment against Blue Elephant on March 27, 2018. Plaintiff now seeks attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k) as to her federal claims and pursuant to Oregon Revised Statutes § 659A.885(1) and (2) as to her state-law claims.

         Plaintiff states the total fee amount of $229, 215.00 was reviewed to eliminate “excessive, redundant or other unnecessary time.” This resulted in a reduction of $26, 289.00 or 11.5% of the initial computation of fees. Plaintiff, therefore, seeks recovery of $202, 926.00 in fees for attorneys, legal assistants, and paralegals.

         Even though Defendant has not objected to Plaintiff's requests, the Court has an independent duty to review a motion for attorneys' fees for reasonableness. Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1398 (9th Cir. 1992). See also Cruz v. Alhambra Sch. Dist., 282 Fed.Appx. 578, 580 (9th Cir. 2008)(The district court has an "obligation to articulate . . . the reasons for its findings regarding the propriety of the hours claimed or for any adjustments it makes either to the prevailing party's claimed hours or to the lodestar.").

         A. ...


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