United States District Court, D. Nevada
April 24, 2017, this court considered plaintiffs motion for
sanctions (ECF No. 284) against defendants. The court granted
the motion and the request for an award of attorney's
fees and costs as a sanction, and directed defendants'
counsel to submit a memorandum of attorney's fees and
costs. (Id.) The court indicated that it would
determine the amount of sanctions to be ordered under a
counsel, Robert C. Ryan ("Ryan"), filed an itemized
billing in support of defendants' motion for sanctions,
supported by his declaration (See ECF Nos. 290,
291). The court now considers plaintiffs report of fees and
costs related to plaintiffs motion for sanctions.
is the prevailing party to the extent that the court
determined that sanctions were warranted against defendants
for their failure to comply with a discovery order. The court
concluded that an award of attorney's fees and costs was
proper under the circumstances, and it must now calculate a
reasonable fee award.
of reasonable attorney's 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 on the
litigation. Fischer v. SJB-P.D., Inc., 214 F.3d
1115, 1119 (9th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). Second, the
court "may adjust the lodestar, [only on rare and
exceptional occasions], upward or downward using a multiplier
based on factors not subsumed in the initial calculation of
the lodestar." Van Gerwen v. Guarantee Mut. Life
Co., 214 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2000).
Reasonable Hourly Rate
'prevailing market rates in the relevant legal
community' set the reasonable hourly rate for purposes of
computing the lodestar amount." Gonzalez v. City of
Maywood, 729 F.3d 1196, 1205 (9th Cir. 2013).
"Within this geographic community, the district court
should 'take into consideration the experience, skill,
and reputation of the attorney or paralegal.'"
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). It is
customary for attorneys to bill an hourly rate for legal
services provided, and Mr. Ryan attests that his hourly rate
is $550, and that the following attorneys, Mr. Lukas, Mr.
Donahey, Mr. Hadley, and Ms. Reid, charge hourly rates of
$515, $435, $345, and $330, respectively. Mr. Ryan further
attests that his paralegal, Ms. Arnold, charges an hourly
rate of $195.
assert that these hourly rates are reasonable considering the
skill, experience, and reputation of the attorneys assigned
to this case. Defendants dispute the reasonableness of each
of the hourly rates, specifically arguing that they are
"hardly reflective of the local market for litigation
attorneys." (ECF No. 302 at 5.) The court agrees. While
defendants' attorney, Mr. Hoy, declares that his maximum
hourly billing rate is $350, he does not provide the court
with what he believes to be a reasonable hourly rate. The
court therefore surveys recent orders awarding attorney's
fees and finds that the following are reasonable hourly
rates: $375 for a partner; $250 for an associate; and $125
for a paralegal. See U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Recovery Services
Northwest, Inc., 2:13-cv-01254, 2017 WL 901721 at *1 (D.
Nev. March 7, 2017) (granting fees at $125 per hour for a
paralegal); Dentino v. Moiharwin Diversified Corp.,
No. 2:16-cv-904, 2017 WL 187146 at *2-3 (D. Nev. Jan. 17,
2017] (granting fees at $350 per hour for a partner, $225 for
an associate, and $125 for a paralegal); Fifty-Six Hope
Road Music, Ltd. v. A. V.E.L.A., Inc., 2:08-cv-00105,
2017 WL 44942 at *2 (D. Nev. Jan. 4.. 2017)
(granting fees at $325 per hour for a partner and $250 for an
associate); Roadhouse v. Patenaude & Felix,
A.P.C., 2:13-cv-560, 2016 WL 5791544 at *4-5 (D. Nev.
Sept. 30, 2016) (granting fees a1 $375 per hour for a
partner); Marrocco v. Hill, 291 F.R.D 586, 589 (D.
Nev. 2013) (finding the reasonable hourly rate in the Nevada
community to be $375-$400 for partner with over thirty-five
years of experience).
Hours Reasonably Expended
court next considers the hours expended on the tasks outlined
in Mr. Ryan's declaration. The party seeking an award of
fees must submit evidence supporting the hours worked.
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983).
"Where the documentation of hours is inadequate, the
district court may reduce the award accordingly."
Id. The court should exclude from the initial fee
calculation hours that are not reasonably expended.
Id. at 433-34. The court may exclude hours that are
not reasonable due to overstaffing, duplication of effort,
excessiveness, and otherwise unnecessary to the issue.
Id. at 434. In other words, the court has discretion
to "trim fat" from, or otherwise reduce, the number
of hours claimed to have been spent on the case. Edwards
v. Nat'l Business Factors, Inc., 897 F.Supp. 458,
460 (D. Nev. 1995) (quotation omitted); see also Gates v.
Deubnejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1399 (9th Cir. 1992).
Ryan provides the dates that the attorneys and paralegal
provided legal services in connection with the motion to
compel and for sanctions, a summary of work performed for
each entry, and the time spent on each task. (ECF No. 291-1.)
Defendants object to the amount of time billed stating it
"is beyond absurd." (ECF No. 302 at 1.) Defendants
point out six specific examples of billing entries it
considers to be "absurd." (Id. at 1-4.)
reported 76.4 hours of attorney and paralegal labor is
excessive in relation to the discovery dispute underlying the
award. Many of the entries are duplicative, excessive, appear
to be the result of overstaffing, and are generally
unnecessary. See Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434. Examples
of unreasonable time sought include, but are not limited to:
Mr. Ryan billing 11.4 hours for what appears to be mostly
management related to the motion to compel; Mr. Donahey
billing 31.8 hours for the drafting of the initial motion for
sanctions; Mr. Hadley billing 9.2 hours to prepare for and
attend the motions hearing (that was just over an hour long
(See ECF No. 268)); and Mr. Hadley billing 9.4 hours
to prepare a draft order regarding document production.
(See ECF No. 291-1.) Further, much of the time
billed is duplicative of effort and represents, in the
court's view, an overstaffing of the case. For example,
on March 27, 2017, Mr. Donahey, Mr. Hadley, Ms. Reid, and Mr.
Ryan all billed for time spent editing the motion for
sanctions, for a total of 4.4 hours billed.
on the court's experience, and in light of the fact that
the number of hours billed is excessive on its face, the
court will reduce the number of hours from 76.4 to 38.2,
representing a deduction by half, which the court finds
reasonable in this case. The court will additionally deduct