United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Attorneys' Fees and costs on remand, [Doc. No. 129] and
Plaintiff's Bill of Costs, [Doc. No. 131]. Defendant has
filed a response in opposition to the Motion for
seek attorneys' fees in the in the amount of $159, 843.75
as the prevailing parties in the Section 1983 action and
costs in the amount of $300. Defendants did not object to
Plaintiffs' Bill of Costs, and the Court finds the
submitted Costs to be recoverable. Costs will be taxed
respect to the Motion for Attorneys' Fees, Plaintiffs
have submitted their itemized statement of the time expended
by counsel. Plaintiffs have derived the amount by multiplying
the number of hours expended on this case by the hourly fees
object on several grounds. Initially, Defendants argue that
special circumstances exist in this case to deny
attorney's fees and costs. They argue that under the new
sign code, Plaintiff's would not be the prevailing party
in any post-new Sign Code definition of “sign.”
This argument lacks merit because it is based entirely on
speculation and a hypothetical that is not before the Court.
the fact that Defendants acted within the bounds of the law
at the time of the denial of the sign permit and had a good
faith belief that the sign at issue was not within the scope
of the law is unavailing. Carhart v. Stenberg, 192
F.3d 1142, 1152 (8th Cir. 1999); Martin v.
Heckler, 773 F.2d 1145, 1150 (8th Cir. 1985).
also object to certain fees charged by counsel. Defendants
seek denial of the charges for attorney travel time. In the
Eighth Circuit, travel time is allowable time. “We have
long recognized a ‘presumption ... that a reasonable
attorney's fee includes reasonable travel time billed at
the same hourly rate as the lawyer's normal working time,
' Craik v. Minn. State Univ. Bd., 738 F.2d 348,
350 (8th Cir.1984), absent a showing the award would be
unreasonable, for example, because ‘the lawyer did not
customarily charge clients for travel time, or ... did not
have other work that could have been done during that time
had he not been traveling, ' Rose Confections, Inc.
v. Ambrosia Chocolate Co., 816 F.2d 381, 396 (8th
Cir.1987).” Ludlow v. BNSF Ry. Co., 788 F.3d
794, 803-04 (8th Cir. 2015).
also object to the inclusion of fees charged for preparation
of the response to the City's petition for a writ of
certiorari in this case. A
factor that has been considered in deciding whether
post-judgment fees were necessary and useful is whether the
attorneys' activity was defensive, seeking to preserve
relief obtained earlier, or offensive, seeking to augment
what had already been approved. In Ustrak v.
Fairman, the Seventh Circuit distinguished between a
case in which the fee applicant unsuccessfully defends an
appeal of relief he has won below and a case in which the fee
applicant unsuccessfully appeals, seeking to expand his
victory. 851 F.2d at 990. The Seventh Circuit concluded that
it would be more likely to award fees in the former case than
in the latter. We have referred to this case with approval in
Schafer, 83 F.3d at 1012, and denied a fee where the
prevailing party was seeking a greater victory, rather than
defending the remedy.
Jenkins by Jenkins v. State of Mo., 127 F.3d 709,
719 (8th Cir. 1997). Clearly opposing the petition for writ
of certiorari was defensive and not offensive to this
litigation. The objection is overruled.
argue that Plaintiffs' fee request should be reduce
because the time entries submitted were improper “block
billing.” While the entries do not indicate how many
minutes were spent on each particular task, they are
sufficiently specific to communicate the work that was done
and its connection to the case. Furthermore, there is no
evidence that attorneys were spending an excessive amount of
time on their tasks or duplicating the work done by others.
“Defendant's position that counsel should be
required to more specifically detail how his/her time was
expended would place a tremendous burden on any counsel and
would result in inefficient utilization of counsel's
time.” Monsanto Company v. David, No.
4:04CV425HEA, 2006 WL 2669076, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 14,
2006). The Court finds that the billing report sufficiently
details the actions taken by the attorneys to allow for
meaningful review of the hours expended, so a percentage
reduction for block billing is unwarranted here.
Defendants argue that some of counsel's time appears
excessive. Defendants have presented no persuasive evidence
or argument in support of their assessment of the time spent
of particular issues. As counsel points out, the attorneys in
this matter were required to prosecute claims that were
unsettled at the outset of the case, revise pleadings after
the City made significant changes to the ordinance at issue
and pursue an appeal of this matter. Moreover, Plaintiffs
point out that they have diligently attempted to reduce the
hours by excluding any hours billed by attorneys other than
lead counsel. The Court therefore concludes that a reduction
for excessive billing is not justified.
considering all the relevant factors, the Court finds that an
award of fees is appropriate, and that Plaintiffs'
requested fees are reasonable. The Court will award fees in
the total amount of $159, 843.75.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs'
Motion for Attorneys' Fees And ...