United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
November 16, 2018, the Court determined that Plaintiff
Whitesell Corporation had inappropriately attached a
privileged document as an exhibit to a brief. (Doc. No.
1101.) At the conclusion of the Order, the Court invited
Defendant Husqvarna Outdoor Products, Inc. to submit an
application for fees and expenses. (Id. at 5.) On
November 20, 2018, Husqvarna submitted its fee application
now subject to the Court's review.
award of fees must be reasonable and fall within the
guidelines the Eleventh Circuit has promulgated. See
Norman v. Housing Auth. of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292
(11th Cir. 1988). The Eleventh Circuit has adopted
the lodestar method for determining reasonable attorney's
fees. Id. at 1299-1302. The "lodestar" is
determined by multiplying an attorney's reasonable hourly
rate by the number of compensable hours reasonably expended.
Bivens v. Wrap It Up, Inc., 548 F.3d 1348, 1350
(11th Cir. 2008). In determining the reasonable
hourly rate and the number of hours reasonably expended, a
court should consider the twelve Johnson
Bivens, 548 F.3d at 1350 n.2 (citing Johnson v.
Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19
(5th Cir. 1974)).
determining the number of hours reasonably expended, the
Court must consider whether the work sought to be compensated
was "useful and of a type ordinarily necessary to secure
the final result obtained from the litigation."
Pennsylvania v. Del. Valley Citizens' Council for
Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 561 (1986) (citations omitted).
Courts must exclude hours that were "excessive,
redundant, or otherwise unnecessary." Henslev v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1989).
submission, Husqvarna has included the work of two attorneys
in the preparation of the "Expedited Motion for
Determination of Attorney Client Privilege and to Strike
Document Cited in Plaintiff's Court Filings''; in
the review of Plaintiff's response and cited case law; in
the preparation of its reply brief; and in the review of
Plaintiff's sur-reply. Husqvarna also included the time
spent in preparing and sending correspondence and emails to
Plaintiff's counsel in an effort to persuade Plaintiff to
voluntarily withdraw the privileged document prior to filing
the "Expedited Motion."Plaintiff has not filed any objection
to the claimed hours or the hourly rate charged.
the Court's review, the number of the hours claimed in
Husqvarna's fee application is reasonable. (See
Decl. of R. Perry Sentell III, Ex. 1, Doc. No. 1105-1.) The
Court will only exclude those hours claimed in preparation of
the Fee Application, which are listed separately. (See
id., Ex. 2.)
reasonable rate is ``the prevailing market rate in the
relevant legal community for similar services by lawyers of
reasonably comparable skills, experience, and
reputation." Norman, 836 F.2d at 1299; see also Blum
v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895-96 n.22 (1984). The
"going rate" in the community is the most critical
factor in setting the fee rate. Martin v. Univ. of S.
Ala., 911 F.2d 604, 610 (11th Cir. 1990). The
relevant legal community is the district in which the Court
sits: the Southern District of Georgia, Augusta Division.
See Kniaht v. Alabama, 824 F.Supp. 1022, 1027 n.l
(N.D. Ala. 1993) (citing Turner v. Secretary of Air
Force, 944 F.2d 804, 808 (11th Cir. 1991)). Because the
Court is itself considered an expert on hourly rates in the
community, it may consult its own experience in forming an
independent judgment. Loranaer v. Stierheim, 10 F.3d
776, 781 (11th Cir. 1994). Two years ago, this
Court set a reasonable billing rate in the Augusta market as
$300 per hour. See Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No.
150 Pension Fund v. Muns Group, Inc., No. 1:l5-CV-200,
Order of March 27, 2017, Doc. No. 37 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 16,
2015). This rate did not differentiate between a partner and
an associate but the Court recognizes that years of
experience and skill level are important factors in setting a
case, Husqvarna submits that R. Perry Sentell III, Esq., a
partner in the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend &
Stockton, LLP, should be compensated at an hourly rate of
$350. It further submits that its contract attorney, Laurel
P. Landon, Esq., should be compensated at an hourly rate of
$270. The Court observes that these rates are a fair
reflection of the Augusta, Georgia legal market for the
services rendered in this case and given the considerable
experience of these attorneys (Mr. Sentell has been in
practice for 30 years and Ms. Landon has been in practice for
the foregoing, the Court finds the lodestar calculations as
20.40 hours at $350.00/hour =
5.1 hours at $270.00/hour =