United States District Court, D. Nevada
PATRICIA L. CONNOR, et al., Plaintiffs,
CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION, Defendant.
ORDER (DOCKET NO. 27)
. NANCY J. KOPPE United States Magistrate Judge
January 19, 2017, the Court set an early neutral evaluation
(“ENE”) in the instant case for March 7, 2017,
and specifically ordered that all individual parties must
attend the ENE. Docket No. 13. Despite that order, however,
Plaintiff Brandi Patrick (“Plaintiff”) failed to
appear at the ENE. The Court therefore ordered Plaintiff to
show cause in writing why she should not be sanctioned for
failure to comply with the Court's order. Docket No. 20.
March 14, 2017, Plaintiff responded to the Court's order
to show cause. Docket No. 21. Plaintiff submitted a
declaration, under the penalty of perjury, stating that she
was called into work at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino on
March 7, 2017, and that she went to work for fear that she
would otherwise lose her employment. Id. at 5, 7. On
March 14, 2017, therefore, the Court ordered Defendant to
respond to Plaintiff's declaration. Docket No. 22. The
Court also set a hearing on the order to show cause for March
28, 2017. Id.
March 20, 2017, Defendant responded to Plaintiff's
response to the Court's order to show cause. Docket No.
23. Defendant submitted declarations and documentary evidence
demonstrating that Plaintiff was not scheduled to work on
March 7, 2017, was not called in that day and, in fact, did
not work on March 7, 2017. Docket No. 23-2 at 2; Docket No.
23-3 at 2; Docket No. 23-4 at 2; Docket No. 23-6 at 2.
March 28, 2017, the Court held the show cause hearing, where
all parties were allowed to present argument. Docket No. 25.
On March 29, 2017, after considering the arguments presented
at the hearing, the Court determined that Plaintiff knowingly
violated the Court's order to appear at the ENE, and
submitted a sworn declaration to the Court that contained
false information. Docket No. 26 at 2. The Court therefore
sanctioned Plaintiff in the amount of 1/8 of the reasonable
attorneys' fees and costs incurred by Defendant in
preparing for and attending the ENE, and 1/2 of the
reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by Defendant in
preparing the response at Docket No. 23. Id. at 2-3.
Accordingly, the Court ordered Defendant to submit
documentation and authority for its reasonable attorneys'
fees in accordance with the Court's order, no later than
April 5, 2017. Id. at 3. The Court ordered Plaintiff
to respond no later than April 10, 2017, and allowed
Defendant to reply no later than April 12, 2017. Id.
pending before the Court is Defendant's supplemental
brief submitted pursuant to the Court's order. Docket No.
27. Plaintiff filed a response, and Defendant filed a reply.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court
ORDERS Plaintiff to pay Defendant
attorneys' fees in the amount of $944 within 30 days of
the issuance of this order.
the Court has already determined that Defendant is entitled
to attorneys' fees, see Docket No. 26 at 2, the
only issue is the calculation of the fees. Reasonable
attorneys' fees are generally calculated using the
traditional “lodestar” method. See,
e.g., Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523
F.3d 973, 978 (9th Cir. 2008). Under the lodestar method, the
Court determines a reasonable fee by multiplying “the
number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation”
by “a reasonable hourly rate.” See Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). The lodestar figure
is presumptively reasonable. Cunningham v. Cty. of Los
Angeles, 879 F.2d 481, 488 (9th Cir. 1988).
touchstone in determining the hours for which attorneys'
fees should be calculated is whether the expenditure of time
was reasonable. See, e.g., Marrocco v. Hill, 291
F.R.D. 586, 588 (D. Nev. 2013). The Court “has a great
deal of discretion in determining the reasonableness of the
fee and, as a general rule, [an appellate court] defer[s] to
its determination . . . regarding the reasonableness of the
hours claimed by the [movant].” Prison Legal News
v. Schwarzenegger, 608 F.3d 446, 453 (9th Cir. 2010)
(quoting Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1398
(9th Cir. 1992)). The reasonableness of hours expended
depends on the specific circumstances of each case.
Camacho, 523 F.3d at 978. In reviewing the hours
claimed, the Court may exclude hours related to overstaffing,
duplication, and excessiveness, or that are otherwise
unnecessary. See, e.g., Hensley, 461 U.S.
pending motion outlines 12.2 hours that Defendant contends
its counsel, Shannon Pierce, reasonably incurred in preparing
for and attending the ENE session, and 6.6 hours that it
contends Ms. Pierce and her two colleagues, Mr. Hames and Ms.
Cook, reasonably incurred in preparing its filing at Docket
No. 23. Docket No. 27 at 2-4; Docket No. 27-2 at 4-5; Docket
No. 27-3 at 2-5. Plaintiff submits that
“Defendant's submission of 12.2 hours to prepare
for the ENE is unreasonable” and that its
“submission of 6.6 hours to submit its response to the
Court's order is . . . completely unjustifiable.”
Docket No. 28 at 2-3. With regard to the former assertion,
Defendant submits that it actually seeks compensation for 9.2
hours of preparation, and for 3 hours spent attending the
ENE. Docket No. 29 at 3. Regarding the latter assertion, Defendant
submits that Plaintiff appears to improperly discuss
Defendant's briefing at Docket No. 27, when in fact the
Court chose to award fees for the time it spent preparing its
filing at Docket No. 23. Docket No. 29 at 4-5. Defendant
further submits that the 6.6 hours of work expended in
relation to Docket No. 23 were reasonable, as preparing that
filing required, inter alia, “(1) reviewing
the false declaration submitted by plaintiff Patrick, (2)
gathering the evidence needed to highlight for the Court the
false nature of that declaration, and (3) briefing these
issues for the Court.” Docket No. 29 at 5.
Court finds the majority of the requested hours spent
preparing for and attending the ENE reasonable. Regarding ENE
preparation, Defendant's counsel submitted a detailed
confidential ENE statement that thoroughly addressed the
multiple claims and Plaintiffs in this case, as well as
Defendant's perceived strengths and weaknesses, in
compliance with the Court's order at Docket No. 13. The
Court finds, however, that a period of six hours, as opposed
to eight, is reasonable for drafting, editing, and revising
the confidential ENE statement. See Docket No. 27 at
2. Counsel further spent a reasonable amount of time
preparing to discuss the relevant issues at the ENE. See,
e.g., id. (detailing one hour of time spent
preparing for the ENE after completing the confidential
statement). However, the Court finds the March 1, 2017, and
second March 7, 2017 entries, totaling .2 hours, irrelevant
to counsel's preparation for the ENE. See id.;
Docket No. 27-3 at 2, 4. Regarding ENE attendance, the three
hours' worth of compensation that counsel requests for
attending the ENE are eminently reasonable, as the session
lasted approximately two and one-half hours, see
Docket No. 27 at 2, and counsel would have needed sufficient
time to travel between the courthouse and her place of
accommodation. Thus, the Court concludes that Ms. Pierce
reasonably spent ten hours preparing for and attending the
ENE. The Court will award Defendant fees for 1/8 of these
hours, as set forth in its order at Docket No. 26.
Court finds most of the requested hours spent preparing the
filing at Docket No. 23 reasonable. The filing contains 6
pages of argument, but totals 24 pages and contains several
detailed exhibits. See Docket Nos. 23-23-7. Further,
preparing the filing required Defendant's counsel to
spend time investigating the alleged reasons that Plaintiffs
Patrick and Parga failed to attend the ENE. Docket No. 29 at
5. Additionally, the Court finds that counsel's billing
record mostly reflects a necessary and efficient use of time
in completing the relevant tasks. See Docket No. 29
at 3-4; Docket No. 27-3 at 4-5. The billing record also
reflects the fact that Ms. Pierce delegated tasks to
colleagues with lower billing rates where feasible. See
Id. Thus, the Court deletes 1.5 hours of work on Ms.
Pierce's part, and 0.4 hours on Ms. Cook's part, and
concludes that the reasonable hours spent preparing the
filing at Docket No. 23 were 2.7 hours for Ms. Pierce, 1 hour
for Mr. Hames, and 1 hour for Ms. Cook. The Court will award
fees for 1/2 of these hours, as set forth in its order at
Docket No. 26.