United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MICHAEL J. BANKS, et al., Plaintiffs,
FRANCIS G. SLAY, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD WEBBER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for
Bill of Costs [ECF No. 82], Plaintiffs' Motion for
Attorneys' Fees [ECF No. 83], Plaintiffs' Motion for
Billing Records. [ECF No. 85], and Plaintiffs' Verified
Joint Motion for Supplemental Award of Attorneys' Fees
Pursuant to U.S.C. § 1988. [ECF No. 111].
lawsuit originated when Plaintiffs Michael J. Banks and
Antonia Rush-Banks (“Plaintiffs”) filed a
complaint against Defendants Francis Slay, an ex-officio
member of the Saint Louis Board of Police Commissioners,
Richard Gray, Thomas Irwin, Bettye-Battle Turner, and Erwin
Switzer; Francis Slay, in his official capacity as Mayor of
Saint Louis; Tishaura Jones, Treasurer of the City of Saint
Louis, and Darlene Green, Comptroller of the City of Saint
Louis (collectively “Defendants”); seeking to
enforce a default judgment entered by the Circuit Court of
the City of St. Louis, for violations of Michael Williams, a
former St. Louis City Police Officer. The Court granted
Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and entered a
writ of mandamus ordering Darlene Greene, Comptroller of the
City of Saint Louis, to issue payment to Plaintiffs in the
amount of $1, 487, 553.49.
have filed four motions before the Court: Plaintiffs'
Motion for Bill of Costs [ECF No. 82], Plaintiffs' Motion
for Attorneys' Fees [ECF No. 83], Plaintiffs' Motion
for Billing Records. [ECF No. 85], and Plaintiffs'
Verified Joint Motion for Supplemental Award of
Attorneys' Fees Pursuant to U.S.C. § 1988. [ECF No.
111]. Defendants have not objected to the bill of costs, the
request for costs in the motion for attorneys fees, and have
provided the requested billing records in their opposition
memorandum to Plaintiffs' motion for attorneys fees. The
only remaining issues present before the Court is
Plaintiffs' request for attorneys fees.
seek $245, 030.00 in attorneys' fees and $161.05 in
costs. Plaintiffs' attorneys' fees were calculated
using the lodestar method. Plaintiffs seek $450.00 per hour
for attorney Robert Herman's 287 hours of work on this
matter, $325.00 per hour for attorney Kenneth Romine's 64
hours of work on this matter, $250.00 per hour for attorney
Edward Wells 364.7 hours of work on this matter, and $110.00
per hour for law clerk Ilana Friedman's 35.5 hours of
work on this matter. [ECF No. 85]. Defendants in their
opposition motion counter both Plaintiffs' attorneys'
hourly rates and the time expended were excessive. They
specifically argue Mr. Hermann should be awarded a $355
hourly rate, Ms. Friedman should be awarded a $93.00 hourly
rate, and the Court should not award any more than 200 hours
of attorney time. [ECF No. 104]. Defendants reply both Mr.
Hermann and Ms. Friedman's proposed hourly rates are
reasonable and well cited, Plaintiffs' counsel spent an
appropriate amount of time on this case, cases cited by
Defendants are not comparable, and Defendants identify only a
few unreasonable time amounts. [ECF No. 110].
are entitled to attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1988. There are two steps in determining whether
attorneys' fees are reasonable: (1) first the number of
hours attorneys expand must be reasonable; and (2) the rates
charged by attorneys' must be reasonable. Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983). To determine a
reasonable amount for attorney fees, a court multiplies the
number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by a
reasonable hourly rate. Pennsylvania v. Delaware Valley
Citizens' Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 564
(1986). The product of this calculation is “presumed to
be the reasonable fee to which counsel is entitled”
when the attorney has shown the claimed rate and number of
hours are reasonable. Id. The “novelty and
complexity of the issues, the special skill and experience of
counsel, the quality of representation, and the results
obtained from the litigation” are reflected in this
amount. Id. (internal quotations omitted).
in their motion, argue this case involved complex questions
of state and local law, to the extent possible they allocated
more routine work to associate's and law clerks, and
provided detailed billing records showing their billed hours
were reasonable. [ECF Nos. 84, 84-1 - 84-8]. Defendants, in
their opposition motion, argue, Plaintiffs'
attorneys' billing is not individual and specific, the
case was factually simple, the legal issues were not complex,
and similar cases have been litigated for significantly fewer
hours, and certain billing line items are unreasonable as
excessive. [ECF No. 104 at 3-4]. Plaintiffs reply Defendants
billing records in this case are incomplete and thus not
probative to the amount of time Plaintiffs spent; the cases
Plaintiffs hope to compare to the present case can be
distinguished because of simpler appeals; and Defendants only
specify four line items of excessive billing.
cite two different civil rights litigation cases, where
attorneys billed time was significantly lower, and allege
these cases are comparable to the present case to show
Plaintiffs' billing is unreasonable. Plaintiffs respond
these cases can be distinguished because the issues on appeal
were much simpler. In Snider v. City of Cape
Girardeau, 752 F.3d 1149, 1160 (8th Cir. 2014), Anthony
Rothert and Grant Doty, a partner and associate with five
years of experienced charged $300 per hour and $225 per hour,
respectively, in a case regarding flag desecration, where
parties conducted discovery, had a bench trial, and the
litigation lasted over two years. [ECF No. 104-1]. In
Rohrbough v. Hall, No. 4:07CV00996 ERW, 2010 WL
4940954, at *4 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 30, 2010), where a total of 713
hours was billed in a case regarding police misconduct, the
plaintiffs had two bench trials and Plaintiffs had to defend
an appeal. [ECF No. 104-4]. Plaintiffs attempt to distinguish
these cases, by arguing the issues on appeal were much
simpler, and the Rohrbough plaintiffs were defending
an appeal, not seeking to overturn the district court.
Court is persuaded by Defendants' memorandum regarding
their request for reductions of attorneys fees. Fees for
research and drafting by Mr. Robert Hermann are reduced by
20%. Fees for research and drafting by Mr. Edward Wells are
reduced by 20%. Mr. Hermann will be allowed to bill for a
total of 245 hours. Mr. Wells will be allowed to bill for a
total of 305.5 hours.
Plaintiffs' attorneys hourly rates
argue, in their motion for attorneys' fees, their rates
are reasonable in comparison to the market of the
metropolitan St. Louis area, ...