United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs motion for
attorneys' fees (Doc. No. 20) and motion for bill of
costs (Doc. No. 21). Defendant opposes the motion and objects
to Plaintiffs calculation of costs and fees. (Doc. No. 24).
Plaintiff filed a reply. (Doc. No. 27). Accordingly, the
matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition. For the
reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs motion for attorney's
fees will be granted in part and denied in part, and the
motion for costs and fees will be granted.
14, 2019, Plaintiff brought this lawsuit against Defendant
Medical Commercial Audit, Inc. d/b/a MCA Management
Company/Medical Commercial Audit, Inc., asserting violations
of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §
1692, et seq. ("FDCPA"). On August 12,
2019, Defendant made an Offer of Judgment pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 68, and on August 16, 2019, Plaintiff
accepted. (Doc. No. 16). On August 28, 2019, the Court
entered an Order & Judgment pursuant to the terms of the
Offer of Judgment (Doc. No. 17) and directed Plaintiff to
submit his reasonable costs and attorneys' fees.
September 27, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant motions
seeking attorneys' fees of $11, 295, the filing fee of
$400, and co-counsel's pro hac vice admission fee of
$100. Plaintiff maintains that the fees are reasonable
because his attorneys, who are both local and out-of-state,
spent 33.2 hours working on his case. He claims that counsel
spent the requisite amount of time investigating claims
available to him, researching novel and difficult issues
related to the proper identity of the creditor, obtaining the
necessary documentation and briefing to present Plaintiffs
case in federal court, and securing more than the maximum
relief available to Plaintiff.
objects to the amount of attorneys' fees, arguing that:
(1) Plaintiffs lead counsel seeks his full $300 rate for
administrative work he performed; (2) the amount of time the
lead attorney claims to have spent on legal work exceeds what
is necessary for an attorney with his experience; (3) the
Court should not award Plaintiff any fee related to the
involvement of out-of-state co-counsel because their roles
were duplicative; and (4) one of the out-of-state attorneys
submitted no affidavit to support her credentials or that she
actually performed the work alleged. Defendant argues that
the case was in its early stages when it settled and that
over the course of three months while the case was pending,
no mediation was held, no depositions were taken, and no
court hearings or conferences were held. Accordingly,
Defendant contends that the request for $11, 295 is
"extreme and excessive given the circumstances."
(Doc. No. 24 at 2).
reply, Plaintiff reasserts his arguments that counsel's
fees are reasonable, that all time expended by co-counsel was
necessary, and that Plaintiff should be awarded additional
attorney's fees for the 4.7 hours spent by counsel
preparing the reply brief, thereby increasing his request for
attorneys' fees to $12, 980.15.
FDCPA requires payment of costs and reasonable attorneys'
fees to a successful consumer. 15 U.S.C. § l692k(a)(3).
This Court is responsible for determining what constitutes
"reasonable." Morgan v. Vogler Law Firm,
P.C, No. 4:15-CV-1654 SNLJ, 2018 WL 6304869, at*l(E.D.
Mo. Dec. 3, 2018).
determining the reasonableness of a fee request, the
"lodestar" method is "the most useful starting
point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee,"
i.e., "the number of hours reasonably expended on the
litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate."
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). In
determining the overall reasonableness of an award of
attorneys' fees, the Court may adjust this
"lodestar" amount computed above, as the Court
considers the twelve factors first set out in Johnson v.
Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th
Cir. 1974) (limited by Blanchard v. Bergeron, 489
U.S. 87 (1989)), and used to determine the reasonableness of
the fee. See Winter v. Cerro Gordo County
Conservation Board, 925 F.2d 1069, 1074 n. 8
(8th Cir. 1991). These factors are:
(1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and
difficulty of the questions; (3) the skill requisite 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
attorney(s); (10) the undesirability of the case; (11) the
nature and length of the professional relationship with the
client; and (12) awards in similar cases.
Breeden v. Consumer Adjustment Co., No.
4:18-CV-01944 JAR, 2019 WL 1518185, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 8,
2019). The Court must reduce all "excessive, redundant,
or otherwise unnecessary" hours. El-Tabech v.
Clarke, 616 F.3d 834 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434).
seeks attorneys' fees and costs as follows:
Boris Graypel (local counsel)
David Barshay (out-of-state counsel)
David Barshay (paralegal work)
Erica Carvajal (out-of-state counsel)