United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division
D. LAND CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
filed a Motion for Attorneys' Fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§2000e-5(k) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Civil
Procedure 54(d) (2) (B) . Plaintiff did not respond, and the
motion (ECF No. 27) is granted to the extent set forth below.
Court previously granted Defendant's summary judgment
motion, concluding that Plaintiff did not exhaust
administrative remedies and thus could not pursue this Title
VII action against Defendant. Therefore, Defendant is the
prevailing party in this litigation. See CRST Van
Expedited, . Inc. v. E.E.O.C., 136 S.Ct. 1642, 1651
(2016) (finding that a defendant may be a prevailing party if
the litigation is resolved in its favor, even if the
defendant does not "obtain a favorable judgment on the
merits") . A district court "may in its discretion
award attorney's fees to a prevailing defendant in a
Title VII case upon a finding that the plaintiff's action
was frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation" or
if "the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly
became so." Christiansburg Garment Co. v. Equal
Employment Opportunity Comm'n, 434 U.S. 412, 421-22.
(1978). Here, in February 2019, Defendant filed documents
establishing that Plaintiff knew or should have known before
she filed her EEOC charge that Defendant, not its franchisor,
was her employer. Defendant also notified Plaintiff in
January 2019 and again in February 2019 that Defendant never
received notice of Plaintiff's EEOC charge before
Plaintiff filed this action. So, by February 2019, Plaintiff
should have known that she had not properly exhausted her
administrative remedies. Accordingly, the Court finds that
Plaintiff continued litigating this action after it became
clear that the action lacked foundation, so Defendant is
entitled to recover attorney's fees as the prevailing
prevailing party is entitled to a "reasonable
attorney's fee." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). There
is a "strong presumption" that the
"lodestar"-the number of hours reasonably expended
on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate-yields a reasonable fee. In re Home Depot Inc.,
931 F.3d 1065, 1082 (11th Cir. 2019) . The Court reviewed
Defendant's motion and invoices in support and accessed
the State Bar of Georgia's member directory to determine
how long each of Defendant's lawyers has been admitted to
the bar. Brittany Bennett, who was admitted to the Georgia
bar in 2016 and performed the bulk of the work on behalf of
Defendant, charged $200.00 per hour. Brantley Rowlen, Toni Jo
Read, and John Snelling-who have each been admitted to the
Georgia bar for fourteen years or more-charged $350.00 per
hour. Although Defendant did not submit any affidavits or
other evidence to demonstrate that these hourly rates are
reasonable, the Court finds based on its experience that
these rates are reasonable for employment discrimination
cases in the Middle District of Georgia.
to Defendant's invoices and brief in support of its
motion, Bennett spent 41.5 hours, Rowlen spent 6.5 hours,
Read spent 3.5 hours, and Snelling spent 4.0 hours on this
action. Based on the Court's review of the
time entry descriptions, the hours expended were reasonable.
Thus, the lodestar is calculated as follows:
did not respond to Defendant's motion or offer any reason
for a reduction to the lodestar, and the Court finds none.
Accordingly, the Court awards Defendant attorney's fees
in the amount of $13, 200.00.
twenty-one days of today's order, Plaintiff's
attorneys shall show cause why they should not be jointly and
severally liable with Plaintiff for these attorney's fees
under 28 U.S.C. § 1927.
 Defendant also seeks to recover for
time charged by "RH" on July 31, 2019, but
Defendant did not explain who RH is or establish that the
rate is reasonable, so RH's time is excluded.
 Bennett's invoices include
"non-billable time entries." Defendant did not
argue that this time should be included in the lodestar, and
the Court did not include it.
 This number does not match the number
sought in Defendant's motion, but it reflects the number
of "billable" hours for Bennett's time on the
invoices that were provided to the Court, plus $1, 700.00 for
the 8.5 hours that Bennett billed Defendant in October but
had not ...