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Abdullah Najm v. City of Portland

United States District Court, D. Oregon

June 29, 2018

ABDULLAH NAJM ABDULLAH NAJM, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF PORTLAND, Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

          STACIE F. BECKERMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Abdullah Najm Abdullah Najm filed an Unopposed Motion for Attorney Fees (ECF No. 16), requesting an award of attorney's fees, costs, and litigation expenses in the amount of $8, 882.32. For the reasons set forth below, the district judge should grant the motion and award attorney's fees in the amount of $8, 377.50, and costs and expenses in the amount of $504.82, for a total award of $8, 882.32.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this employment discrimination and retaliation action against defendant City of Portland on October 27, 2017. (ECF No. 1.) On December 21, 2017, prior to filing an answer, Defendant served on Plaintiff an offer of judgment in the amount of $10, 001.00 plus reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred as of the date of the offer of judgment. (ECF No. 12-1.) Plaintiff accepted Defendant's offer of judgment on January 3, 2018. (ECF No. 12.)

         DISCUSSION

         I. Attorney's Fees

         A. Legal Standard

         “Under the ‘American rule,' litigants ordinarily are required to bear the expenses of their litigation unless a statute or private agreement provides otherwise.” Grove v. Wells Fargo Fin. Cal., Inc., 606 F.3d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 2010) (quotation omitted). Here, the parties agreed that Defendant will pay Plaintiff's reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred as of December 21, 2017.

         The calculation of a reasonable fee award begins with calculating the lodestar figure, by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). “The fee applicant bears the burden of documenting the appropriate hours expended in the litigation and must submit evidence in support of those hours worked.” Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1397 (9th Cir. 1993). In determining the lodestar figure, the court may consider the factors set forth in Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir. 1975). These factors include the novelty or difficulty of the case, the preclusion of other employment, time limitations, the amount at stake, the results obtained, and the undesirability of the case. Id.

         The court must review the requested fee award for reasonableness, even if no objection has been raised to the number of hours billed or the hourly rate applied. See Gates, 987 F.2d at 1401 (finding that the “district court [is] required to independently review plaintiffs' fee request even absent defense objections”).[1] The court possesses “considerable discretion” in determining the reasonableness of a fee award. Webb v. Ada Cty., 195 F.3d 524, 526 (9th Cir. 1999).

         B. Analysis

         Plaintiff seeks attorney's fees in the amount of $7, 470.00 for attorney Daniel Snyder at a rate of $450/hour, and $907.50 for attorney John Burgess at a rate of $275/hour.

         1. Reasonableness of Requested Rates

         The law is well established that a reasonable hourly rate is determined by looking at the prevailing rate in the relevant community for similar work performed by attorneys of comparable skill, experience, and reputation. Barjon v. Dalton, 132 F.3d 496, 502 (9th Cir. 1997); see also Welch v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 942, 947 (9th Cir. 2007) (district court abused its discretion in ERISA case when it awarded attorney's fees at an hourly rate of $250, because declarations from comparable ERISA lawyers showed that “the market sustain[ed] a rate above $400 per hour” for comparable work). “[T]he burden is on the fee applicant to produce satisfactory evidence-in addition to the attorney's own affidavits-that the requested rates are in line with those prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation.” Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 980 (9th Cir. 2008). “Affidavits of the plaintiffs' ...


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