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Silver State Broadcasting, LLC v. Beasley FM Acquisition

United States District Court, District of Nevada

March 16, 2015

SILVER STATE BROADCASTING, LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BEASLEY FM ACQUISITION, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

C.W. Hoffman, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs/Counter-Defendants’ (“plaintiffs”) motion for attorneys’ fees (doc. # 167), filed November 5, 2014. The Court also considered Defendants/Counter-Claimants’ (“defendants”) response (doc. # 171), filed November 24, 2014, and plaintiffs’ reply (doc. # 173), filed December 4, 2014.

BACKGROUND

On October 15, 2014, this Court conducted a hearing on plaintiffs’ emergency motion to compel, request sanctions, and extend discovery deadlines. See Doc. # 154; Doc. # 155. After carefully considering the arguments presented by the parties in their briefs and at the hearing, the Court granted plaintiffs’ motion. See Doc. # 163. With respect to plaintiffs’ request for sanctions, the Court ordered the parties to meet and confer regarding the sanctions amount, and directed plaintiffs to file a motion in the event the parties were unable to agree. Id. Thereafter, plaintiffs filed the instant motion. See Doc. # 167.

DISCUSSION

1. Legal Standard

A trial court has broad discretion to determine reasonable attorneys’ fees. See Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1398 (9th Cir. 1992). Reasonable attorneys’ fees are calculated using the lodestar method, which involves multiplying the number of hours “reasonably expended” on the litigation by a “reasonable hourly rate.” See Hensley v. Eckerhardt, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983); Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 982 (9th Cir. 2008). The lodestar is “presumptively reasonable” but may be adjusted upward or downward. See City of Burlington v. Dague, 505 U.S. 557, 562 (1992); Camacho, 523 F.3d at 982.

In determining whether to adjust the lodestar, a court may consider the following twelve factors: (1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved; (3) the skill required to perform the legal service properly; (4) the preclusion of other employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case; (5) the customary fee; (6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent; (7) time limitations imposed by the client or the 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. See Kerr v. Screen Guild Extras, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir. 1975). These factors ultimately help a court determine whether to “exclude from the lodestar amount hours that are not reasonably expended because they are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.” Van Gerwen v. Guarantee Mutual Life Co., 214 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2000).

2. Analysis

The issue before this Court is whether plaintiffs’ fees proposal constitutes reasonable attorneys’ fees. Plaintiffs request attorneys’ fees in the amount of $ 10, 197.50. The amount reflects 37.4[1] hours of work at a billing rate of: (1) $ 350 per hour for attorney Joseph R. Ganley (“Ganley”); (2) $ 275 per hour for attorney Todd W. Prall (“Prall”); and (3) $ 250 per hour for attorney Amanda L. Ireland (“Ireland”).

a. Hourly Rate

Plaintiffs contend that counsels’ hourly rates are “customary and typical” in Las Vegas. Doc. # 167 at 9. In response, defendants question Ireland’s hourly rate, claiming that plaintiffs attempt to minimize Ireland’s “complete lack of private litigation experience” by referring to her as a “less experienced associate” without demonstrating that she has the necessary skills and reputation to “complete... tasks at her $ 250 per hour billing rate.” Doc. # 171 at 6.

In reply, plaintiffs submit that defendants “understate” Ireland’s experience. Doc. # 173 at 4. According to plaintiffs, Ireland graduated from law school over a year ago and, prior to joining plaintiffs’ legal counsel, researched and briefed issues as a law clerk for the Eighth Judicial District Court. Given such, plaintiffs contend that Ireland’s research and writing skills are sufficient to enable her to research issues and prepare legal arguments for the emergency motion and reply. Plaintiffs further contend these tasks are “standard” for attorneys with Ireland’s experience, and also “typical and customary” in commercial litigation. Id. Thus, plaintiffs ask the Court to grant Ireland’s hourly rate.

The “established standard when determining a reasonable hourly rate is the rate prevailing in the community for similar work performed by attorneys of comparable skill, experience and reputation.” Camacho, 523 F.3d at 971. The “community, ” or forum district, is the relevant market for determining reasonable attorneys’ fees. Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1405 (9th Cir. 1992). “Affidavits of the plaintiffs’ attorney and other attorneys regarding prevailing fees in the community and rate determinations in other cases, particularly those setting a rate for the ...


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