United States District Court, D. Colorado
A. BRIMMER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Verified Motion for
Attorney's Fees and Costs [Docket No. 26] filed by
plaintiff Auto-Owners Insurance Company on July 13, 2017. The
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
29, 2017, the Court granted plaintiff's motion for
default judgment and entered a default judgment of $141,
920.60 against defendant Bridgewater International, Inc. on
plaintiff's breach of indemnity claim. Docket Nos. 24,
25. The Court denied without prejudice plaintiff's
request for attorneys' fees and costs contained in
plaintiff's motion for default judgment because it was
supported only by a conclusory statement. Docket No. 24 at 6.
Additionally, the Court ordered “that, within 14 days
of the entry of judgment, plaintiff Auto-Owners Insurance
Company may have its costs by filing a bill of costs with the
Clerk of the Court.” Docket No. 24 at 7. Plaintiff did
not file a bill of costs with the Clerk of the Court.
Plaintiff, however, did file the instant motion seeking $20,
335.80 in attorney's fees, $6, 026.88 in
costs, and $3, 270.61 in interest. Docket No. 26
at 2, 10; Docket No. 26-2.
initial matter, the Court will deny plaintiff's request
for costs and associated interest. Plaintiff failed to file a
bill of costs with the Clerk of the Court as ordered and as
required by D.C.COLO.LCivR 54.1. See Docket No. 24
at 7; Docket No. 25 at 2. Therefore, plaintiff's request
for costs and associated interest is denied with prejudice.
a reasonable fee award, a court must begin by calculating the
“lodestar amount.” Robinson v. City of
Edmond, 160 F.3d 1275, 1281 (10th Cir. 1998). The
lodestar amount is the “number of hours reasonably
expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate.” Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433
(1983). A party seeking an award of attorney's fees must
establish the reasonableness of each dollar and each hour for
which the party seeks an award. Jane L. v.
Bangerter, 61 F.3d 1505, 1510 (10th Cir. 1995).
party claiming 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, Johnson Cty., Kan., 157
F.3d 1243, 1250 (10th Cir. 1998), as well as demonstrating
that counsel used “billing judgment” in winnowing
down the hours actually spent to those reasonably expended.
Praseuth v. Rubbermaid, Inc., 406 F.3d 1245, 1257
(10th Cir. 2005). If a request does not demonstrate billing
judgment, a court should take extra care to ensure that an
attorney has not included unjustified charges in his billing
statement. Id. A court should also consider whether
the amount of time spent on a particular task appears
reasonable in light of the complexity of the case, the
strategies pursued, and the responses necessitated by an
opponent's maneuvering. Id.
“reasonable rate” is defined as the prevailing
market rate in the relevant community for an attorney of
similar experience. Guides, Ltd. v. Yarmouth Group Prop.
Mgmt., Inc., 295 F.3d 1065, 1078 (10th Cir. 2002). The
party requesting fees bears “the burden of showing that
the requested rates are in line with those prevailing in the
community.” Ellis v. Univ. of Kan. Med. Ctr.,
163 F.3d 1186, 1203 (10th Cir. 1998). In order to satisfy his
burden, plaintiff 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, 895 n.11 (1984).
seeks $20, 335.80 in attorney's fees for 103.1 hours of
work. Docket No. 26-2. Patrick Q. Husted, an
attorney with approximately thirty years of experience,
billed 16.5 hours at a rate of $230 per hour. Docket No. 26
at 6, ¶ 2, at 8, ¶ 13, and at 9, ¶ 17. Connor
Cantrell, an attorney with approximately ten years of
experience, billed 55.0 hours at $220 per hour. Docket No. 26
at 8-10, ¶¶ 13, 17; Docket No. 26-2 at 3. Keenan
Jones, an attorney with approximately eight years of
experience, billed 3.5 hours at $190 per hour. Docket No. 26
at 8, ¶ 13 and at 10. Lauren Reinhart, an attorney with
approximately five years of experience, billed 6.4 hours at
$190 per hour. Id. Additionally, plaintiff was
billed for 21.7 hours of paralegal work at $110 per hour.
Docket No. 26-2.
Court finds that plaintiff has met its burden of establishing
that the attorney's fees sought reflect a reasonable
number of hours expended and that the rate charged is
reasonable in light of defense counsel's experience and
the results achieved. See Malloy v. Monahan, 73 F.3d
1012, 1018 (10th Cir. 1996) (“[T]he district court need
not identify and justify every hour allowed or disallowed, as
doing so would run counter to the Supreme Court's warning
that a ‘request for attorney's fees should not
result in a second major litigation.'” (quoting
Mares v. Credit Bureau of Raton, 801 F.2d 1197, 1203
(10th Cir. 1986))). In addition to this litigation,
plaintiff's attempt to recover under the indemnification
agreement necessitated filing various liens and pursuing
relief in bankruptcy court. Plaintiff's counsel secured
recovery in the bankruptcy court and a default judgment in
this court. See Docket No. 25; Docket No. 26 at 9,
¶ 15. The attorneys' rates are reasonable in light
of the prevailing rates in Denver for attorneys of their
experience. See Hitchens v. Thompson Nat'l
Properties, LLC, No. 12-cv-02367-LTB-BNB, 2014 WL
2218094, at *2 (D. Colo. May 29, 2014) (finding it reasonable
for Denver attorney with eight years of experience to charge
$250 per hour); Scott v. City and County of
Denver, No. 12-cv-00053-MSK-BNB, 2014 WL 287558, at *2
(D. Colo. Jan. 27, 2014) (finding that “the prevailing
rates in Denver for experienced litigators approach $400 per
hour in recent years” and associates with eight years
of experience in the Denver metro area charge between $150
and $260 per hour). Further, the detailed billing records
submitted by plaintiff reflect the application of billing
judgment in declining to bill for certain tasks and reducing
the hours charged for other tasks. See, e.g., Docket
No. 26-2 at 12, 22.
seeks prejudgment interest on the award of attorney's
fees pursuant to Colo. Rev. Stat § 5-12-102(1). Docket
No. 26 at 2 n.2. This statute applies when “money or
property has been wrongfully withheld.” Colo. Rev. Stat
§ 5-12-102(1)(a). Plaintiff's request does not
comport with how the statute has been applied by other
courts, and plaintiff points to no authority and makes no
argument for why prejudgment interest should be awarded on
his attorney's fees. In cases where courts have awarded
both prejudgment interest under Colo. Rev. Stat §
5-12-102(1) and attorney's fees, the Court is not aware
of any instance where a court has awarded prejudgment
interest on the award of attorney's fees. Rather, courts
have awarded prejudgment interest on the amount of the
judgment and separately awarded attorney's fees. See,
e.g., Complete Entm't Res., LLC v. Bianchi, No.
14-cv-03388-MSK-MJW, 2016 WL 8578094, at *5 (D. Colo. Feb. 2,
2016); Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Summit Park Townhome
Ass'n, 198 F.Supp.3d 1239, 1248 (D. Colo. 2016);
Campbell v. Ball Corp. Consol. Welfare Benefit Plan,
No. 13-cv-00132-MSK-KMT, 2015 WL 5352569, at *3 (D. Colo.
Sept. 15, 2015). Courts have awarded prejudgment interest
where an attorney's fee from a previous litigation is the
subject of a subsequent judgment. See, e.g., Scott R.
Larson, P.C. v. Grinnan, 2017 WL 2590525 (Colo.App. June
15, 2017) (awarding prejudgment interest on wrongfully
withheld attorney's fees from a separate case where the
defendant improperly caused the fees to be placed in escrow
during a fee dispute between attorneys); Niman v. GPS
USA, Inc, No. 13-cv-2725-RBJ, 2015 WL 1898244, at *1 (D.
Colo. Apr. 27, 2015) (awarding prejudgment interest where the
unpaid judgment from an earlier litigation included
attorney's fees). That is not the case here. Therefore,
the Court will grant plaintiff's motion for
attorney's fees insofar as it requests plaintiff's
billed fees and will deny the motion insofar as plaintiff
requests prejudgment interest.
foregoing reasons, it is
that plaintiff's Verified Motion for Attorney's Fees
and Costs [Docket No. 26] is GRANTED in part
and DENIED in part as set forth in this
order. It is further
that plaintiff is awarded $20, 335.80 ...