United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
KEVIN BROWN, CHIEF STEWARD; AUGUSTUS JONES, PRESIDENT; AND IUE-CWA, INDUSTIRAL DIVISION OF THE COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, CLC, LOCAL 83799 PLAINTIFFS
ASEA BROWN BOVERIA, INC., FORMERLY KNOWN AS KUHLMAN ELECTIRC CORP.; AND JOHN DOES 1-50 DEFENDANTS Date Name Reduction Date Name Hours Date Name Billed Hours Reduction
CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
previous ruling, the Court granted defendant ABB's Motion
for Sanctions against the plaintiffs' attorney, Warren
Martin, Jr., in the form of reimbursement of attorneys'
fees and expenses. See Brown v. ASEA Brown Boveria,
No. 3:14-CV-37-CWR-LRA, 2015 WL 7289492, at *5 (S.D.Miss.
Nov. 16, 2015). Before the Court is ABB's Motion for
Attorneys' Fees. Having reviewed the parties'
arguments and applicable law, ABB's Motion is granted in
part and denied in part.
case, ABB seeks $19, 871.50 in attorney's fees based on
the services of five Baker Donelson attorneys (Brooks Eason,
Jonathan Hancock, Adam Gates, Steven Fulgham, Emma Redden)
and one paralegal (Kathy Hughes) for the filing of four
submitted an affidavit swearing that he and his colleagues
litigated this case for the following number of hours, at the
Jonathan C. Hancock
Adam H. Gates
Steven W. Fulgham
Emma J. Redden
Kathy L. Hughes
Fifth Circuit has defined a two-step process for determining
reasonable attorneys' fees. First, the court must
calculate a “lodestar” by multiplying the
reasonable number of hours expended on the case by the
reasonable hourly rates for the participating attorneys.
Shipes v. Trinity Indus., 987 F.2d 311, 319 (5th
Cir. 1993). Second, the court may adjust the lodestar amount
to account for a variety of factors, commonly referred to as
the twelve Johnson factors. Lighthouse Rescue
Mission, Inc. v. City of Hattiesburg, Miss., No.
2:12-CV-184, 2014 WL 4402229, at *3 (S.D.Miss. Sept. 5,
2014). An attorneys' fee ruling should “explain how
each of the Johnson factors affects its award,
” but need not be meticulously detailed to survive
appellate review.” In re High Sulfur Content
Gasoline Prod. Liab. Litig., 517 F.3d 220, 228 (5th Cir.
fee applicant bears the burden of establishing entitlement to
an award and documenting the appropriate hours
expended.” La. Power & Light Co. v.
Kellstrom, 50 F.3d 319, 324 (5th Cir. 1995) (quotation
marks and citation omitted). “[T]he district court is
obligated to scrutinize the billing records carefully and to
exclude excessive, duplicative, or otherwise unnecessary
entries.” Coleman v. Hous. Indep. Sch. Dist.,
202 F.3d 264 (5th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). Where the
record is “virtually devoid of any information helpful
to a determination of whether or how his hours were spent
beneficially on this litigation, ” the court must deny
the request for fees. Kellstrom, 50 F.3d at 324.
applicant must also demonstrate that the requested hourly
rates are reasonable. Id. “To determine
reasonable rates, a court considers the attorneys'
regular rates as well as prevailing rates.”
Id. at 328 (citation omitted). “[T]he actual
amount paid in fees is not dispositive on the question of
reasonable rates.” Id. (citations omitted).
Reasonable Hourly Rates
Court must first determine if the hourly rates are reasonable
given the attorneys' ability, competence, experience, and
skill. It is well-established that “[h]ourly rates are
to be computed according to the prevailing market rates in
the relevant legal market, not the rates that lions at the
bar may command.” Hopwood v. Tex., 236 F.3d
256, 281 (5th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks and citation
reasonable hourly rate for a particular community is
generally established through affidavits of other attorneys
practicing there. See, e.g., Watkins v. Fordice, 7
F.3d 453, 458 (5th Cir. 1993) (“Appellants submitted
affidavits of their attorneys' customary billing rates,
as well as affidavits from other attorneys in the community
showing the prevailing market rates in the locality.”).
case, there is no such evidence. ABB submits only a single
affidavit in which Eason, the lead counsel, testifies that
the requested rates are reasonable based on those customarily
charged in the area. The Court questions that the proposed
rates are reasonable. See Brown v. Miss. Dep't of
Health, No. 3:11-CV-146-CWR-FKB, 2013 WL 12128785, at *3
(S.D.Miss. Mar. 5, 2013) (collecting cases). Without the
testimony of other attorneys, the Court cannot say that these
rates are charged by similar firms in the Jackson market.
But, only because Martin has not contested the rates, the
Court holds that the reasonable hourly rates are as proposed.
See Tollett v. City of Kemah, 285 F.3d 357, 368 (5th
Cir. 2002) (approving requested $300 hourly rate where such
rate was not challenged by the opposing party, but declining
to rule on whether the rate would be reasonable in other
cases in the area); M. B. by and through Bedi v. Rankin
County, No. 3:13-CV-241-CWR-FKB, 2016 WL 1077833, at *2
(S. D. Miss. Mar. 17, 2016) (“Since there is no
objection . . . the Court accepts these rates as the
appropriate reasonable rate[s].”).
the Court will use the following hourly rates in computing
the lodestar in this matter: Eason, $390.00; Hancock,
$360.00; Gates, $310.00; Fulgham, $210.00; Redden, $195.00;
Reasonable Hours Expended
next step in the lodestar analysis is to calculate the number
of hours reasonably expended. Martin objects to the
reasonableness of the hours submitted by defense counsel on
the basis that (1) the hours of ABB's Tennessee counsel
should be excluded, (2) fees for work related to the
Mississippi Litigation Accountability Act (MLAA) should be
excluded, (3) billing entries with redacted activities should
be excluded, and (4) defense counsel failed to exercise
billing judgment. Each will be considered below.
Fees for ...