United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
before this Court is Plaintiff Jesse Hendrix's motion for
attorney's fees and costs . For the reasons set forth
below, the Court finds the motion should be granted in part
and denied in part; the Court awards $6, 000.75 in
attorney's fees and $500.00 in costs.
12, 2018, Hendrix filed this suit against his employer,
Evergreen Hauling, LLC, alleging that he was owed back wages
for overtime work that Evergreen failed to pay him. On July
6, 2018, Evergreen offered to settle for what it says is the
entire amount Hendrix claimed to be owed. On August 2, 2018,
Hendrix accepted that offer. The parties moved the Court for
approval of the settlement on December 10, 2018, and the
Court approved the settlement on January 3, 2019.
pending is Hendrix's motion for attorney's fees and
costs, where Hendrix asks to be awarded $8, 700.00 in fees
and $575.00 in costs, based on 29 hours of work billed at a
rate of $300 per hour. Evergreen objects the amount of fees
and costs requested.
Standard for Attorney's Fees
prevailing party is entitled to reasonable attorney's
fees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. 29 U.S.C. §
216(b). The party seeking attorney's fees bears the
burden of establishing the reasonableness of the hourly rate
and the number of hours billed. Riley v. City of Jackson,
Miss., 99 F.3d 757, 760 (5th Cir. 1996)
Court employs the lodestar method to calculate reasonable
attorney's fees by "multiplying the number of hours
reasonably spent on the case by an appropriate hourly rate in
the community for such work." Saizan v. Delta
Concrete Prod. Co., 448 F.3d 795, 799 (5th Cir. 2006).
Once the lodestar figure is calculated, the Court determines
whether it should be adjusted upwards or downwards using the
Johnson factors. Johnson v. Georgia Highway
Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-18 (5th Cir. 1974).
Reasonable Hourly Rate
Court first determines a reasonable hourly rate in the
community for such work. Heidtman v. Cty. of El
Paso, 171 F.3d 1038, 1043 (5th Cir. 1999) (citing
Shipes v. Trinity Industries, 987 F.2d 311, 319-320
(5thr Cir. 1993)). Reasonable hourly rates are typically
calculated through affidavits by attorneys practicing in the
community in which the district court is located. Tollett
v. City of Kemah, Tex., 285 F.3d 357, 368 (5th Cir.
2002). Hendrix's counsel supports his rate of $300 with
the affidavits of two local attorneys. Ex. C, PL's Mem.
in Support [Doc. 13-3]. Evergreen does not challenge that
rate as unreasonable. The Court finds that a rate of $300 is
reasonable for the type of work performed in this case within
Reasonableness of Hours Billed
Court next determines whether the hours billed by
Hendrix's counsel were reasonable. "In calculating
the lodestar, '[t]he court should exclude all time that
is excessive, duplicative, or inadequately
documented.'" Combs v. City of Huntington,
Tex., 829 F.3d 388, 392 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Jiminez v. Wood Cty., 621 F.3d 372, 379 (5th Cir.
Court finds that the hours submitted should be reduced as
follows: First, Hendrix's counsel bills for several hours
work that was clerical in nature. Additionally, at least two
entries bill for emails sent by a paralegal but billed at the
full attorney rate. See July 31 Email, Def.'s
Resp. in Opp., Ex. 7 [14-7]; August 17 Email, Def.'s
Resp. in Opp., Ex. 10 [14-10]. Hours claimed for clerical
work should be distinguished from those claimed for legal
work and should be compensated at a lower rate. Abrams v.
Baylor College of Medicine,805 F.2d 528, 536 (5th Cir.
1986) (citing Johnson, 488 F.2d at 717); Cruz v.
Hauck,762 F.2d 1230, 1235 (5th Cir. 1985). Clerical
work includes "investigation, compilation of facts and
statistics, communications which serve a purely logistical or
organizational purpose, the filing of returns with the court,
the service of documents, ...