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State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. Sellers

United States District Court, D. Oregon

November 5, 2018

STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, an Illinois corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL SELLERS and MELANA SELLERS, husband and wife; CAROLYN DUNCAN, an individual; DAWN FREEDAIN, an individual; THOMAS GRADT, an individual; ASHLEY MEAD, an individual; ANTHONY MOFFAT, an individual; JACOB OLSEN, an individual; JOSH OLSEN; an individual; ZACH BAGGIO, an individual; ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, an Illinois corporation; CSAA FIRE AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, a California corporation; TRUCK INSURANCE EXCHANGE, a California corporation; and COMMONS AT TIMBER CREEK, an Oregon corporation; Defendants.

          ORDER

          Jolie A. Russo United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff State Farm Fire and Casualty Company initiated this interpleader action against defendants Daniel Sellers, Melana Sellers, Carolyn Duncan, Dawn Freedain, Thomas Gradt, Ashley Mead, Anthony Moffat, Jacob Olsen, Josh Olsen, Zach Baggio, Allstate Insurance Company, CSAA Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Truck Insurance Exchange, and Commons at Timber Creek. The Court subsequently discharged plaintiff from further liability and determined attorney fees and costs were warranted, in an amount to be determined.

         Plaintiff now moves for an award of attorney fees in the amount of $21, 446.50 and costs in the amount of $1298.80. For the reasons set forth below, attorney fees and costs are awarded in the reduced sums of $16, 788.88 and $1, 020.70, respectively.

         BACKGROUND

         On March 26, 2018, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court for interpleader and declaratory relief. That same day, plaintiff moved to deposit the amount of the underlying insurance policy proceeds - i.e., $300, 000. On March 28, 2018, the Court granted plaintiff's motion and ordered that plaintiff's tendered funds be deposited into the Court's registry pending final judgment.

         On April 20, 2018, plaintiff filed a motion for discharge from further liability and attorney fees. Plaintiff's motion was unopposed by all defendants. Accordingly, in its August 20, 2018, Findings and Recommendation (“August 2018 F&R”), the Court recommended that plaintiff's motion be granted and instructed plaintiff to submit a separate motion for fees and costs under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54. On September 10, 2018, the Honorable Michael H. Simon adopted the August 2018 F&R.

         On September 27, 2018, plaintiff filed the present motion for attorney fees and costs. This motion is also unopposed by all defendants.

         STANDARD

         Pursuant 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.

         The 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 Cir. 1999).

         DISCUSSION

         Because plaintiff's entitlement to fees and costs was previously determined, the sole issue before the Court is the reasonableness of the requested rates, hours, and expenses.

         I. Reasonableness of the Requested Rates

         Plaintiff employed four Portland, Oregon, attorneys (David Rossmiller, Guy Thompson, Elissa Boyd, and Kelsey Terry) and one paralegal (Natosha Chason) on this matter. Rossmiller Decl. ¶ 2 & Ex. 1 (doc. 41). Plaintiff seeks the following hourly rates: $230 for Rossmiller, who has 20 years of experience; $210 for Thompson, who has 1 year of experience; $210 ...


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