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The Eleanora J. Dietlein Trust v. American Home Mortgage Investment Corp.

United States District Court, District of Nevada

January 9, 2015

THE ELEANORA J. DIETLEIN TRUST, DEREK NEUMANN AND GINA NEUMANN, Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN HOME MORTGAGE INVESTMENT CORP., et al., Defendants.

ORDER

On July 31, 2014, this court found Karlon Kidder, Esq., and Eric Dietlein jointly and severally liable for attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by William Dietlein and Nora Dietlein Christensen (“co-trustees”) in this case for the period January 27, 2014 to June 23, 2014 (#95). The co-trustees were directed to submit a statement for attorneys’ fees and costs after the District Court considered any objections that Messrs. Kidder and Eric Dietlein might file. Id. On October 7, 2014, this District Court denied their objections (#104); thereafter, the co-trustees filed their statements of fees and costs (#106), supported by declarations of co-trustees’ counsel (#s 108 & 110) and the co-trustees (#s 107 & 109). Neither Mr. Kidder nor Eric Deitlein filed an opposition to these statements and declarations.

I. Discussion and Analysis of Attorneys’ Fees

This court earlier found that Messrs. Kidder and Eric Dietlein were jointly and severally liable for the co-trustees’ attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to the court’s inherent authority, 28 U.S.C. § 1927, this Court’s Local Rules of Practice, and the Nevada Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct. See Order (#95) at pages 16-20. The court now considers the co-trustees’ statement of attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to Local Rule (“LR”) 54-16.

Calculation of reasonable attorneys’ fees is a two-step process. First, the court computes the “lodestar” figure, which requires the court to multiply the reasonable hourly rate by the number of hours reasonably expended in the litigation. Carter v. Caleb Brett LLC, 757 F.3d 866, 868 (9th Cir. 2014). The next step is to decide whether to increase or reduce the lodestar amount based upon the so-called Kerr factors not already calculated in the lodestar amount. Id. at 869 (citing Quesada v. Thomason, 850 F.2d 537, 539 (9th Cir 1988) for the relevant factors, as first provided by Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67 (9th Cir. 1975)). The Kerr factors are incorporated into LR 54-16.

A. Step One

The hourly rates for Gregory Wilson, Esq. and Jeffrey Einsohn, Esq., counsel for William Dietlein, are $425.00 and $225.00, respectively (#108, Ex. A). The hourly rate for Robert Herman, Esq., counsel for Nora Dietlein Christensen is $250.00 (#110, Ex. A). The court has reviewed the credentials and experience of each attorney, and it is also familiar with the role each attorneys played in this proceeding. The court finds these hourly billing rates to be reasonable based upon its understanding of prevailing market rates for legal service in this community.

Mr. Wilson’s billing summary indicates he expended a total of 76.70 hours for a total of $32, 597.50, and Mr. Einsohn expended a total of 130.70 hours for a total of $29, 407.50 (#108, Ex. A). Mr. Herman expended 24 hours for a total of $6, 000.00 (#110, Ex. A). The court has carefully reviewed the billing summaries of all three attorneys, which identify the date the work was performed, the attorney who performed the legal services, a description of the services, the hours expended on each task, that attorney’s hourly rates, and the amount charged. The court finds that the hours expended were reasonable; therefore, the court finds the attorneys’ fees to be reasonable in the following amounts: 1) $32, 597.50 for Mr. Wilson; 2) $29, 407.50 for Mr. Einsoln; and 3) $6, 000.00 for Mr. Herman.

B. Step Two

The next step is to decide whether to increase the lodestar amount based upon the Kerr factors not already included in the initial lodestar calculation. Carter, 757 F.3d at 868 (9th Cir. 2014). The following Kerr factors are the relevant subsections of LR 54-16(b)(3) in this case:

(A) The results obtained and the amount involved;
(B) The time and labor required;
(C) The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved;
(D) The skill requisite to perform the legal services properly; (H) The time limitations ...

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