United States District Court, D. Colorado
WILLIAM POWERS, MAP MANAGEMENT LLC, and BLACK WIDOW LLC, Plaintiffs,
EMCON ASSOCIATES, INC., MICHAEL COCUZZA, and MICHAEL MICHOWSKI, Defendants.
Kathleen M. Tafoya United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the court on Emcon Associates, Inc.’s
“Itemization of Fees and Costs” filed July 10,
2017. [Doc. No. 125.] Plaintiffs’ Objection to
Defendants’ Itemization of Fees and Costs” [Doc.
No. 131] was filed on July 17, 2017.
29, 2017, this court granted Defendant’s “Motion
to Strike Exhibits 36-39 to Reply in Support of Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment” [Doc. No. 105]. As part of
the ruling, the court granted Defendants’ request for
reimbursement of reasonable costs associated with bringing
the motion and filing the reply. Defendants were directed to
file an itemization of their claimed attorney’s fees.
Plaintiffs’ objection to the amount of the fees goes
only to the number of hours expended and does not challenge
the Defendants’ submission with respect to the
reasonableness of Defendants counsels’ hourly rates.
most useful starting point for determining the amount of a
reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonably expended . .
. multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate” which will
result in what is commonly called the loadstar calculation.
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983).
“This calculation provides an objective basis on which
to make an initial estimate of the value of a lawyer’s
services.” Id. “[A] claimant is entitled
to the presumption that this lodestar amount reflects a
‘reasonable’ fee.” Robinson v. City of
Edmond, 160 F.3d 1275, 1281 (10th Cir. 1998). The
court’s calculation of the lodestar carries with it a
strong presumption of reasonableness. Home Loan Inv. Co.
v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 78 F.Supp.3d 1307, 1315
(D. Colo. 2014), amended, No. 12-CV-02308-CMA-CBS,
2014 WL 7187153 (D. Colo. Dec. 17, 2014),
aff’d, 827 F.3d 1256 (10th Cir. 2016);
Payan v. Nash Finch Co., 310 P.3d 212 (citing
Hensley, supra). The court may then adjust this
party seeking an award of fees should submit specific
evidence supporting the hours worked and rates claimed.
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433. The Tenth Circuit has
noted that “[c]ounsel for the party claiming the fees
has the burden of proving hours to the district court by
submitting meticulous, contemporaneous time records that
reveal, for each lawyer for whom fees are sought, all hours
for which compensation is requested and how those hours were
allotted to specific tasks.” Case v. Unified Sch.
Dist. No. 233, 157 F.3d 1243, 1250 (10th Cir. 1998).
“A district court is justified in reducing the
reasonable number of hours if the attorney’s time
records are ‘sloppy and imprecise’ and fail to
document adequately how he or she utilized large blocks of
time.” Id.; see also Robinson, 160
F.3d at 1281.
the court has adequate time records, it must then ensure the
attorneys requesting fees have exercised reasonable billing
judgment under the circumstances of the case. Id.
“Billing judgment consists of winnowing the hours
actually expended down to the hours reasonably
expended.” Id; see also Hensley, 461
U.S. at 434, 437 (counsel are expected to exercise their
billing judgment, “mak[ing] a good faith effort to
exclude from a fee request hours that are excessive,
redundant, or otherwise unnecessary”).
court examines the specific tasks listed by an attorney
claiming fee reimbursement, the court must first determine if
the fees are properly chargeable under the circumstances of
the case and then whether the number of hours expended on
each task is reasonable. Id. Among the factors to be
considered are: (1) whether the tasks being billed would
normally be billed to a paying client, (2) the number of
hours spent on each task, (3) the complexity of the case, (4)
the number of reasonable strategies pursued, (5) the
responses necessitated by the maneuvering of the other side,
and (6) potential duplication of services by multiple
lawyers. Robinson, 160 F.3d at 1281. “In this
analysis, [the court should] ask what hours a reasonable
attorney would have incurred and billed in the marketplace
under similar circumstances.” Id.
in all cases where the court considers awarding
attorneys’ fees to a party, the Court must consider the
factors articulated in Johnson v. Ga. Highway Express,
Inc., 488 F.2d 714 (5th Cir. 1974), abrogated on
other grounds by Blanchard v. Bergeron, 489 U.S. 87, 92
(1989)). Those factors are: (1) time and labor required; (2)
novelty and difficulty of question presented by the case; (3)
skill requisite to perform the legal service properly; (4)
preclusion of other employment by the attorneys due to
acceptance of the case; (5) customary fee, (6) whether the
fee is fixed or contingent; (7) any time limitations imposed
by the client or circumstances; (8) amount involved and
results obtained; (9) experience, reputation and ability of
the attorneys; (10) “undesirability” of the case;
(11) nature and length of the professional relationship with
the client; and (12) awards in similar cases. Gottlieb v.
Barry, 43 F.3d 474, 482 n.4 (10th Cir. 1994) (citing
Johnson, 488 F.2d at 717-19).
Tenth Circuit has also opined that “[a] general
reduction of hours claimed in order to achieve what the court
determines to be a reasonable number is not an erroneous
method, so long as there is sufficient reason for its
use.” Mares v. Credit Bureau of Raton, 801
F.2d 1197, 1203 (10th Cir. 1986) (reduction in fees
appropriate due to inexperience of an attorney that led to
Attorney Billing Rates
reasonable hourly billing rate is defined as the prevailing
market rate in the relevant community for an attorney of
similar experience. Guides, Ltd. v. Yarmouth Grp. Prop.
Mgmt., Inc., 295 F.3d 1065, 1078 (10th Cir. 2002). A
court may use its own knowledge of the prevailing market rate
to determine whether the claimed rate is reasonable.
Id. at 1079; see also Praseuth v. Rubbermaid,
Inc., 406 F.3d 1245, 1259 (10th Cir. 2005) (approving
the district court’s determination of the applicable
hourly rate by “relying on its knowledge of rates for
lawyers with comparable skill and experience
practicing” in the relevant market). The party
requesting fees bears “the burden of showing 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.”
Ellis v. Univ. of Kan. Med. Ctr., 163 F.3d 1186,
1203 (10th Cir. 1998) (internal citations omitted). In order
to satisfy this burden, the party requesting fees must
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.” Blum v. Stenson,
465 U.S. 886, 896 n.11 (1984).
Keen, one of the partners with Gordon & Rees, submitted
an affidavit which stated that partners John Keen and Lance
Ream billed their client at the rate of $250.00 per hour and
associate Ann Reinert billed the client at $215.00 per hour.
Defendants submitted actual redacted invoices to support
their claim for both rate and hours. (See
Itemization, Ex. B, Invoices No. 20433460 and 20438953.)