United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR
CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon Defendant Bellco Credit
Union's (“Defendant Bellco”) Motion for
Attorneys' Fees (Doc. # 83) and Defendant Eagle
County's Motion for Attorneys' Fees (Doc. # 88). For
the reasons described below, the Court grants both Motions
for Attorneys' Fees.
Court detailed the factual background of this case in its
March 6, 2019 Order Affirming the December 12, 2018
Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge N. Reid
Neureiter and Granting Motions to Dismiss (Doc. # 81) and in
its June 3, 2019 Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion to
Alter or Amend the Court's Judgment (Doc. # 97). The
Court's previous Orders are incorporated by reference,
and the details explained therein need not be repeated here.
The Court recounts only the facts necessary to address
Defendants' Motions for Attorneys' Fees.
March 6, 2019 Order, the Court dismissed with prejudice
Plaintiff Reed Kirk McDonald's claims against Defendants
and affirmed and adopted Magistrate Judge Neureiter's
Recommendation (Doc. # 67) as the findings and conclusions of
the Court. (Doc. # 81 at 19.) By adopting the Recommendation
in whole, the Court adopted Magistrate Judge Neureiter's
conclusion therein that “the imposition of . . .
[attorneys'] fees is appropriate.” (Doc. # 67 at
19.) Also on March 6, 2019, the Court ordered in the Final
Judgment that Defendants, as the prevailing parties, be
awarded their reasonable costs. (Doc. # 82 at 2.)
Bellco filed its Motion for Attorneys' Fees on March 19,
2019, requesting $45, 089.75 in fees. (Doc. # 83 at 7.)
Defendant Eagle County filed its Motion for Attorneys'
Fees on March 20, 2019, requesting $25, 768.00 in fees. (Doc.
# 88 at 7.) Plaintiff has not responded to either motion.
filed a Motion to Amend or Alter the Court's Judgment on
March 25, 2019. (Doc. # 89.) Defendants filed Responses to
the motion shortly thereafter (Doc. ## 91, 92), to which
Plaintiff replied (Doc. ## 93, 94). On June 3, 2019, the
Court denied Plaintiff's Motion to Amend or Alter the
Court's Judgment. (Doc. # 97.) Relevant here, it ordered
Defendants to supplement their requests for attorneys'
fees to account for the fees incurred in responding to
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend or Alter the Court's
Judgment. (Id. at 6.) Defendant Bellco filed a
Supplement to its Motion for Attorneys' Fees on June 12,
2019, and requests an additional $3, 497.50 in fees. (Doc. #
99 at 4.) Defendant Eagle County filed a Supplement to its
Motion for Attorneys' Fees on June 13, 2019, and requests
an additional $1, 583.50. (Doc. # 100 at 2.)
as in this case, a statute providing for a reasonable
attorneys' fee award does not provide a specific
definition of reasonableness, “the amount of the award
must be determined in light of all the circumstances, based
upon the time and effort expended by the prevailing
party's attorney.” Infant Swimming Research,
Inc. v. Faegre & Benson, LLP, No. 07-cv-00839, 2008
WL 5044501, *3 (D. Colo. 2008) (quoting Tallitsch v.
Child Support Servs., Inc., 926 P.2d 143, 147 (Colo.App.
1996)). See 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b) (prevailing
party in a Section 1983 action may be awarded “a
reasonable attorney's fee”); 15 U.S.C. §
1692k(a)(3) (under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act (“FDCPA”), a debt collector may be liable for
“a reasonable attorney's fee as determined by the
court”); Colo. Rev. Stat. § 5-6-113(2) (under the
Colorado FDCPA, in the case of an unsuccessful action,
“the plaintiff shall by liable . . . [for] reasonable
attorney fees as may be determined by the court”).
of the reasonableness of attorney fees is within the district
court's discretion. Wright v. U-Let-Us Skycap Servs.,
Inc., 648 F.Supp. 1216, 1218 (D. Colo. 1986). The Court
initially estimates a reasonable attorney fee by calculating
the “lodestar” amount, which represents the
number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate. Infant Swimming Research,
Inc., 2008 WL 5044501 at *3 (citing Ramos v.
Lamm, 713 F.2d 546 (10th Cir. 1983), overruled on
other grounds, Penn. v. Del. Valley Citizens' Council for
Clean Air, 483 U.S. 711, 725 (1987)). The lodestar
amount “carries with it a strong presumption of
reasonableness.” Tallitsch, 926 P.2d at 147.
Once the lodestar amount is determined, that basic amount
“may be adjusted upward or downward” by
application of several factors, including “among other
circumstances, the amount in controversy, the length of time
required to represent the client effectively, the complexity
of the case, the value of the legal services to the client,
and awards in similar cases.” Id. (citing
Hartmann v. Freedman, 591 P.2d 1318, 1322 (Colo.
1979)). Ultimately, the determination of reasonableness is
“a question of fact for the trial court.”
Id. (citing Hartmann, 591 P.2d at 1322).
DEFENDANT BELLCO'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS'
Bellco requests that the Court award it $48, 587.25 in
attorneys' fees. See (Doc. # 99 at 4.) After
calculating the lodestar amount and adjusting it to account
for the circumstances of this case, the Court concludes that
Defendant Bellco's request is reasonable and awards it
that amount in attorneys' fees.
the Court finds that counsel for Defendant Bellco expended a
reasonable number of hours in litigating this action and
charged a reasonable hourly rate. See (Doc. # 83 at
4-5; Doc. # 83-1 at 1-2.) Accordingly, its requested fees are
strongly presumed to be reasonable. See Tallitsch,
926 P.2d at 147. Second, application of the various relevant
factors weighs in favor of granting Defendant Bellco's
request. See (Doc. # 83 at 6-7; Doc. # 99 at 3-4.)
For example, with respect to the complexity of the case,
though Plaintiff asserted just four causes of action against
Defendant Bellco, the Court agrees with Defendant Bellco that
Plaintiff's Complaint and subsequent motions required
Defendants to “pars[e] through [Plaintiff's]
puzzling and often-incomprehensible court filings, ” to
“research for and assert multiple theories justifying
dismissal with prejudice, ” and to conduct “an
in-depth investigation into both the facts and
circumstances” of related lawsuits filed by Plaintiff.
See (Doc. # 83 at 5-7.) As to the value of the legal
services to Defendant Bellco, its attorneys “achieved
[its] goals in this action” by persuading the Court to
dismiss the action in its entirety, saving [Defendant] Bellco
the substantial expense of further litigating this case and
engaging in further discovery.” (Id. at 7.) In
light of such circumstances, the Court finds that Defendant
Bellco's requested award of $48, 587.25 is reasonable and
thus grants its Motion for Attorneys' Fees (Doc. # 83).
DEFENDANT EAGLE COUNTY'S MOTION FOR ...