United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Stokes Law Office LLP's
(“Stokes Law”) Interim Application for
Attorney's Fees  (“Motion”).
20, 2016, Stokes Law filed its Motion seeking attorneys'
fees and costs. On July 5, 2016, Agrifact Capital, LLC
(“Agrifact”) filed its Response to Stokes
Laws's Motion , in which it objects to specific
portions of Stokes Law's fee application.
Court's PACA Order authorized and directed Stokes Law to
undertake various tasks to preserve and collect the PACA
trust assets of Crisp Holdings, LLC d/b/a Fresh Roots. The
Court's PACA Order provides that “[Stokes Law] . .
. is authorized to withhold a reserve from PACA Trust Assets
for payment of its fees and expenses under this Order.”
(PACA Order ¶ 16(c)). Stokes Law seeks $123, 402.50 in
attorneys' fees and $6, 285.48 in costs.
general rule, the starting point for calculating reasonable
attorneys' fees is “the number of hours reasonably
expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate” for the attorneys' services. Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1984); Blum v.
Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 897 (1984); accord ACLU of
Ga. v. Barnes, 168 F.3d 423, 427 (11th Cir. 1999). The
product of these two numbers is commonly termed the base
figure, or “lodestar.” Pennsylvania v.
Delaware Valley Citizens' Council, 478 U.S. 546, 563
(1986). After calculating the lodestar, the court may, within
its discretion, adjust the amount upwards or downwards based
on a number of factors, such as the quality of the results
obtained and the legal representation provided.
Blum, 465 U.S. at 897; Duckworth v.
Whisenant, 97 F.3d 1393, 1396 (11th Cir. 1996).
applicant is the party that “bears the burden of
establishing entitlement and documenting the appropriate
hours and hourly rates.” Barnes, 168 F.3d at
427 (quoting Norman v. Housing Auth. of Montgomery,
836 F.2d 1292, 1304 (11th Cir. 1988)); accord Coastal
Fuels Mktg., Inc. v. Florida Express Shipping
Co., 207 F.3d 1247, 1252 (11th Cir. 2000). That burden
supplying the court with specific and detailed evidence from
which the court can determine the reasonable hourly rate.
Further, fee counsel should have maintained records to show
the time spent on the different claims, and the general
subject matter of the time expenditures ought to be set out
with sufficient particularity so that the district court can
assess the time claimed for each activity . . . . A
well-prepared fee petition also would include a summary,
grouping the time entries by the nature of the activity or
stage of the case.
Barnes, 168 F.3d at 427 (citations omitted).
Law's fee request states that three attorneys, Maurleen
Cobb and Craig Stokes, and a legal assistant, Rosa Barrera,
provided services for which Stokes Law seeks fees. Cobb and
Stokes bill at an hourly rate of $300, and Barrera has an
hourly rate of $125. The Court finds these rates reasonable
in the Atlanta market for legal services.
respect to the hours worked, the Court finds several issues
with Stokes Law's fee request. First, several entries
predate the Court's September 4, 2015, PACA Order.
Because the tasks described in these entries took place
before Stokes Law was authorized to be compensated from the
PACA trust, the Court deducts these entries, totaling $5,
107.50, from Stokes Law's fee request.
Stokes Law seeks fees for its work in obtaining records from
certain storage facilities. (See [309.1] at 24-27,
30-32, 38, 55). On January 26, 2016, the Court issued an
Order  requiring Stokes Law to arrange for the shipment
of records from a storage facility to Stokes Law's
offices. The Order stated that the “Individual
Defendants shall reimburse Mr. Stokes pro rata for the total
cost of shipment . . . .” ( at 2-3). Because
Stokes Law is not entitled to collect from the PACA trust the
fees it seeks in connection with obtaining the records, the
Court deducts $1, 779.05 from the attorneys fees and $1,
717.95 in costs Stokes Law seeks.
Law also seeks fees for its work in a case against Crisp in
Arkansas (“Arkansas Case”). ([309.1] at 2, 5, 54
It states that “Stokes Law had the express consent and
approval from the PACA trust beneficiaries in this case for
its actions in the Arkansas case.” (Reply  at 6).
The Court finds this work is not compensable. The PACA Order
did not authorize Stokes Law to work on the Arkansas Case and
thus does not authorize Stokes ...