United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDALL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
March 7, 2019, Defendant Electrolux Home Products, Inc.
("Electrolux") submitted a Fee Application (doc.
no. 1168) in accordance with the Court's Order of
February 14, 2019, which granted Defendants' motion for
sanctions in this case. The Order followed an evidentiary
hearing conducted on February 11, 2019.
Application includes: ``(1) the fees and expenses incurred in
drafting and filing the Motion for Sanctions and to Stay the
Joint Discovery Plan . . . and the attendant briefs; (2) the
fees and expenses incurred in responding to Plaintiff's
Motion to Stay Ruling on the Sanctions Motions and Motion to
Strike the Sanctions Motions . . .; and (3) the fees and
expenses incurred in preparing for and attending the February
11, 2019 hearing." (Fee Application, at 1.) The award of
fees and expenses related to all these events was
specifically sanctioned by the Court in its Order of February
14, 2019. (Doc. No. 1159, at 15.)
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 factors. Bivens, 548 F.3d at
1350 n.2 (citing Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express,
Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir. 1974)).
Order addressing the fee application of Electrolux's
co-defendant, Husqvarna Outdoor Products, Inc., entered on
even date, the Court made certain prefatory remarks in
consideration of the Johnson factors that equally
apply here. With those remarks specifically incorporated
herein by reference, the Court will turn to the lodestar
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.'7 Henslev v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1989).
has employed the law firm of Alston & Bird, LLP, of
Atlanta, Georgia. Electrolux provides a line item entry for
the hours expended in the case. Electrolux utilized the
services of three partners, two associates, and one staff
attorney on the matter. A review of the line item entries and
summations provided by Electrolux in the fee application
reveals that Electrolux predominantly reviewed and revised
the work of co-defense counsel. Of course, Electrolux had its
own interests to protect in the litigation and thus played an
integral part in prosecuting the sanctions motion. However,
while the Court is not minimizing the contribution of
Electrolux to the result attained, the use of 6 attorneys as
it relates to the work performed in the case is
excessive.The Court finds that the work could have
been reasonably performed by only three attorneys.
Accordingly, the number of hours will be reduced by 1/2.
reduction to each attorney's claimed hours is the only
reduction that the Court will make in the number of hours
expended. The number of the hours expended appears reasonable
and without objection by Plaintiff. Moreover, in assessing
the reasonableness of the claimed hours, the Court reflects
upon its prefatory observations in its companion Order on
Husqvarna's fee application. Thus, the number of hours
expended will be compensated as follows:
respect to Electrolux's claim for expenses, the Court
will reduce the expenses incurred in connection with a
January 23, 2019 meeting with co-counsel in Augusta, Georgia,
and the hearing of February 11, 2019, by 1/2. Thus, the Court
will award $763.63 in expenses to Electrolux.
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 rate.
case, Electrolux submits varying hourly rates of its partners
and associates that do not reflect the local market rate. In
consideration of the local market rate and the skill and
experience of the attorneys, and to set a rate commensurate
with the rates set for the attorneys representing Husqvarna,
the Electrolux attorneys will be compensated as follows:
James Grant at $350 per hour; Kyle Wallace and Elizabeth
Helmer at $335 per hour; and Amanda ...