United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel. THOMAS J. LEGACKI III, Plaintiff,
ATLANTIC FOOT AND ANKLE SPECIALISTS, P.C., and MELISSA ROBITAILLE, Defendants.
WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Relator's Amended Motion for Attorneys'
Fees and Costs. (Doc. 16.} In his motion, Relator requests
$46, 473.29 in attorneys' fees and $1, 242.87 in
litigation costs under the False Claims Act
("FCA"). (Doc. 16 at A.) After careful
consideration, Relator's Motion to Amend is
GRANTED and Relator's Motion for
Attorney's Fees and Costs is GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART.
November 10, 2017, Relator petitioned this Court to grant
attorneys' fees in the amount of $77, 162.40 and
litigation costs in the amount of $1, 242.87 in connection
with the successful resolution of this case in favor of
Plaintiff United States of America. (Doc. 14 at 3-4.) This
Court found that Relator's first motion for
attorneys' fees and costs was inadequate for three
reasons. (Doc. 15.) First, Relator did not provide the Court
with any evidence of the number of hours reasonably expended
by the attorneys or other staff. (Id. at 3.} Second,
Relator failed to provide satisfactory evidence or records to
show that the requested rates were reasonable. (Id.
at 4.) Finally, the Court was concerned about the unknown
status of the parties' settlement agreement and whether
defendants were given sufficient notice of the agreement.
(Id. at 7.) As a result of these inadequacies, this
Court directed Relator on November 29, 2018 to supplement and
amend his request for attorneys' fees and costs.
(Id. at 7.) In compliance with this Court's
directive, Relator filed this motion to amend.
time, Relator's Motion to Amend is
GRANTED. The Court must now determine
whether Relator's amended request for attorneys' fees
and litigation costs is reasonable and supported by
sufficient evidence. The False Claims Act ("FCA")
permits a relator to recover "reasonable attorneys'
fees and costs." 31 U.S.C. § 3730(d)(1). The Court
determines whether a requested fee is reasonable by using the
lodestar approach, which values a lawyer's service based
on the number of hours expended multiplied by a reasonable
hourly rate. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424,
433, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 1939, 76 L.Ed.2d 40 (1983). In
addressing the reasonableness of the hours expended, the
Court should exclude any excessive, redundant, or unnecessary
hours, along with hours that are inadequately documented or
for which it would be unreasonable for an attorney to charge.
Id. at 434. Also, the Court will consider the twelve
factors outlined in Johnson v. Ga. Highway
Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir. 1974},
when calculating the lodestar. See Norman v. Housing Auth.
of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 1988).
amended motion, Relator seeks $46, 473.29 in attorneys'
fees and $1, 242.87 in litigation costs. (Doc. 16, Attach. 3.
} Additionally, Relator supplemented his amended motion with
billing records, evidence of hourly rates, and a litigation
cost summary report. (Doc. 16.} For the following reasons,
this Court finds that Relator is entitled to $44, 062.01 in
attorneys' fees and $1, 242.87 in reasonable expenses
incurred in the litigation.
the attorneys' fees sought by Relator for attorneys James
Young and Patrick Barthle, paralegal Emily Lockwood, and
investigator David Reign are reasonable under the lodestar
approach, but the Court will exclude the amount sought for
attorney Juan Martinez's time. In the amended motion,
Relator specifies that James Young worked 71.1 hours on the
matter, David Reign worked 102.8 hours on the matter, and
that "12.5 hours of additional attorney and paralegal
time was expended in this matter." (Id. at 5.)
Relator does not specify which attorney's time is
included in the additional 12.5 hours. However, the Court
operates on the assumption that only attorney Patrick Barthle
and paralegal Emily Lockwood's times are included in this
additional 12.5 hours. This assumption results from
Relator's billing records indicating that Patrick Barthle
expended 3.8 hours on this matter and Emily Lockwood expended
8.4 hours on this matter, whereas Juan Martinez expended 9.3
hours on this matter. (Doc. 16, Attach. 2.) Based on these
records, only Patrick Barthle's hours and Emily
Lockwood's hours combines to equal approximately 12.5
hours of additional attorney and paralegal
time. (Doc. 16, Attach. 2.) Consequently, the
attorneys' fee award should only include the time
expended by attorney James Young (71.1 hours at $345.72),
attorney Patrick Barthle (3.8 hours at $259.29), paralegal
Emily Lockwood (8.4 hours at $86.43), and investigator David
Reign (102.8 hours at $172.86). (Id. at 5; Ex. B.)
This amount totals $44, 062.01.
on the Court's experience with hourly rates billed in
this market, the Court finds the rates of $345.72 per hour
for work performed by James Young, $259.29 per hour for work
performed by Patrick Barthle, $86.43 per hour for work
performed by Emily Lockwood, and $172.86 per hour for work
performed by David Reign all to be appropriate based on the
difficulty of the legal issues and experience of the
attorneys. Also, the Court has reviewed Relator's billing
records and concludes that the 186.4 hours billed with
respect to this matter do not include any excessive,
redundant, unnecessary, improperly documented, or
unreasonable hours. Thus, the Court finds that an award of
$44, 062.01 for attorneys' fees is reasonable according
to the lodestar approach. Additionally, the $1, 242.87 in
litigation costs requested by Relator is a reasonable amount
of litigation costs. Relator provided adequate evidence of
these costs in the cost summary report attached to his
amended motion. (Doc. 16, Attach. 3.)
the Court finds that the Relator has provided sufficient
evidence to prove that the parties finalized a settlement
agreement. In the Amended Motion for Attorneys Fees and
Costs, Relator attached the finalized settlement agreement
signed by the parties. (Doc. 16, Attach. 4.) This agreement
provides assurance that the Defendants were provided adequate
notice of the settlement terms, as requested by this Court.
foregoing reasons, Relator's Motion to Amend is
GRANTED and Motion for Attorneys' Fees
is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
PART. This Court finds that Relator is entitled to
$44, 062.01 in attorneys' fees and $1, 292.87 in
litigation costs, for a total award of $45,
304.88. As directed by the parties' settlement
agreement, Defendants and Defendants' counsel are jointly
and severally liable for the $45, 304.88 award of reasonable
attorneys' fees and litigation costs. The Clerk is
DIRECTED to close this case.
 The twelve factors are as follows: (1)
the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and difficulty
of the questions involved; (3} the skill required to perform
the legal services properly; (4) the preclusion of other
employment due to acceptance of the case; (5) the customary
fee; (6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent; (7) the time
limitations imposed by the client or other circumstances; (8)
the amount involved and the results obtained; (9) the
experience, reputation, and ability of the attorneys; (10)
the undesirability of the case; (11) the nature and length of
the professional relationship with the client; and (12)
awards in similar cases. Johnson v. Ga. Highway Express,
Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir. 1974} .
 In Bonner v. City of
Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir. 1981), the
Eleventh Circuit adopted as binding precedent all decisions
handed down by the former Fifth ...