United States District Court, D. Oregon
Shannon D. Sims Attorney for Plaintiffs
J. Wilson SMITH FREED EBERHARD, P.C. Attorney for Defendant
OPINION & ORDER
A. Hernandez, United States District Judge.
Victoria Taylor and Olena Kalachova brought this housing
discrimination action against their former landlord Defendant
Andrey Sinkevich. The case proceeded to trial on five
claims: a federal housing discrimination claim, a state
housing discrimination claim, an intentional infliction of
emotional distress (IIED) claim, a claim under Oregon's
Landlord-Tenant Act related to the mailing of a final
accounting, and a claim under Oregon's Unlawful Debt
Collection Practices Act which was based on a late fee charge
under the parties' rental agreement.
case was tried to a jury on April 9 and 10, 2019. The jury
found in Defendant's favor on the housing discrimination
and IIED claims, and in Plaintiffs' favor on the claims
related to the final accounting and the unlawful late fee.
The jury awarded $2, 500 to each Plaintiff on the late
fee/debt collection claim, and $700 to each Plaintiff on the
final accounting claim, for a total of $3, 200 each. Judgment
was entered April 22, 2019. The parties now both request
costs and Plaintiffs move for an award of attorney's
fees. I award the costs as requested and grant in part and
deny in part Plaintiffs' attorney's fee motion. I
award Plaintiffs $6, 510 in fees.
seek $8, 575 in attorney's fees. Plaintiffs' counsel
seeks $250 per hour. He states that he billed over 80 hours
on the case, but reduced that amount to 68.6 hours by
removing hours spent on the dismissed Defendant and on the
unsuccessful claims. Sims Decl. ¶ 8, ECF 109. 68.6 hours
multiplied by $250 per hour equals $17, 150. Plaintiffs'
counsel then reduced that amount by one-half, making the
requested amount of fees $8, 575.
objects to a fee award in any amount. Defendant argues that
notwithstanding that Plaintiffs prevailed on two claims,
Defendant should be considered the prevailing party in the
case. Defendant notes that the housing discrimination and
IIED claims were the basis for the majority of the alleged
damages. The other two claims, which Defendant characterizes
as "technical violations," do not represent the
gravamen of the allegations made against Defendant including
discrimination, intimidation, and bigotry. Given this,
Defendant urges the Court to award no fees to Plaintiffs on
their state statutory claims related to the late fee and the
does not dispute that the relevant statutes authorize an
award of attorney's fees for prevailing parties in the
debt collection/final accounting and landlord-tenant claims.
O.R.S. 90.255 (Landlord-Tenant Act allows for fees to
prevailing parties in actions on a rental agreement); O.R.S.
6436.641(2) (Oregon unlawful debt collection statute allows
for fees for prevailing parties). Defendant is correct that
the housing discrimination and IIED claims were the main
thrust of Plaintiffs' case and the basis for the majority
of their requested damages. Nonetheless, Plaintiffs did
prevail on these two claims and were awarded several thousand
dollars each in damages. As a result, I find it appropriate
to award Plaintiffs some amount of attorney's fees.
noted above, Plaintiffs' counsel states he spent more
than 80 hours on the case and then deducted time spent on the
dismissed Defendant and the unsuccessful claims. However, the
billing statement attached to his Declaration does not show
more than 80 hours of time and includes only one entry for
which he does not seek fees. The total number of hours
claimed in the billing statement is 72.1. Sims Decl., Ex. A,
ECF 109-1. The entry dated September 29, 2016, representing
3.5 hours of time spent researching the Fair Housing Act
discrimination claim, was eliminated from the claimed time,
reducing that total to 68.6 hours. While somewhat confusing,
because the 68.6 hours equals the total amount on which the
fee request is based, I accept that figure as the starting
point for determining what is a reasonable fee award in this
are several entries of time which are excessive. First,
Plaintiffs seek $450, representing 1.8 hours, for their
response to this Court's March 31, 2017 Order to Show
Cause. Id., Ex. A at 2. Plaintiffs' response to
the Order, ECF 7, was a total of three paragraphs, one
paragraph of which was a single sentence, and another of
which was two sentences. 1.8 hours is an unreasonable amount
of time to request for preparing this document. Allowing that
counsel likely reviewed his case file before responding, the
task should have taken no more than thirty minutes. Thus, I
reduce this entry from 1.8 hours to 0.5 hours.
Plaintiffs request $575, representing 2.3 hours, for the
trial memorandum. Id., Ex A at 3. That document was
six pages long and repeated some of which had previously been
asserted in the Amended Complaint and the Pretrial Order.
See ECF 73. At that stage of the case, with the
knowledge possessed by counsel only a few weeks before trial,
a memorandum such as this should not have taken more than 1.5
hours. Thus, I deduct 0.8 hours from this entry.
March 13, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an objection to
Defendant's deposition designation. ECF 84. Plaintiffs
seek $300, based on 1.2 hours of time, for preparing this
objection. Sims Decl., Ex. A at 3. The document consists of
five sentences and reasonably should have taken counsel no
more than ten minutes to prepare. Thus, I reduce the
requested time to 0.2 hours. Finally, on that same date,
Plaintiffs filed an objection to a single trial exhibit. ECF
85. Plaintiffs seek $200, based on 0.8 hours of time, for
preparing this objection. Sims Decl., Ex. A at 4. The
document consists of four short paragraphs and should
reasonably have taken no more than twenty minutes to prepare.
Thus, I reduce the time sought to 0.4 hours.
these deductions, the total amount of time is reduced from
68.6 hours to 65.1. Based on a $250 per hour rate, a rate
Defendant does not object to and I find to be reasonable, the
adjusted total fee request is $16, 275. As noted above,
Plaintiffs reduced their fee request total by one-half, or
fifty percent. I find the more appropriate reduction to be
sixty percent. The billing statement shows the elimination of
only one time entry related to the unsuccessful claims. Thus,
it appears that counsel did not actually adjust the billing
statement to properly account for the time spent on the
dismissed Defendant and the unsuccessful claims. As a result,
a reduction of more than fifty percent is appropriate.
Moreover, the amount sought by Plaintiffs fails to show any
appreciable reduction to account for the fact that Plaintiffs
lost on their most important claims. In the end, Plaintiffs
succeeded on only two claims, both of which are appropriately
considered technical claims. While they received over three
thousand dollars each as total damages, this amount
represents at most ...