United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
AVIATION ALLIANCE INSURANCE RISK RETENTION GROUP, INC., Plaintiff,
POLARIS ENTERPRISE GROUP, INC., CAMERON CREBS, and RICK CREBS, Defendants.
W. Molloy, District Judge United States District Court
10, 2017, Defendants Polaris Enterprise Group, Cameron Crebs,
and Rick Crebs (collectively "Polaris") sought to
compel arbitration of this matter pursuant to the arbitration
provision in the parties' Master Service Agreement, (Doc.
9-1 (Dec. 1, 2009)). (Doc. 7.) On June 27, 2017, that motion
was granted-in-part and denied-in-part, and Plaintiff
Aviation Alliance Insurance Retention Group, Inc.
("Aviation Alliance") was ordered to pay half of
Polaris' attorneys' fees and costs incurred in
bringing the motion. (Doc. 15.) Polaris has since submitted
documentation of its fees, (Doc. 16), to which Aviation
Alliance objects, (Doc. 17). Fees are awarded to Polaris in
the amount of $ 4, 770.00.
'lodestar method' is the fundamental starting point
in determining a 'reasonably attorney's
fee.'" Christensen v. Stevedoring Servs. of
Am., 557 F.3d 1049, 1053 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting
City of Burlington v. Dague, 505 U.S. 557, 562
(1992)). This method "requires the court to multiply the
number of hours reasonably expended on litigation by a
reasonable hourly rate." Id. at 1053 n.4
(internal quotation marks omitted). The lodestar calculation
is presumptively reasonable, but courts may adjust the
calculation based on twelve factors, including "the
amount involved and the results obtained." Kerr v.
Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir.
1975). Moreover, "in determining a reasonable hourly
rate, the district court should be guided by the rate
prevailing in the community for similar work performed by
attorneys of comparable skill, experience, and
reputation." Ingram v. Oroudjian, 647 F.3d 925,
928 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and alteration
requests $ 5, 278.00 in fees and no costs related to the
motion. Most of that amount-$ 10, 556.00 (prior to the
fifty-percent reduction)-is attributable to Andrew D.
White's fees. Mr. White, an attorney out of California,
billed 25.4 hours at a rate of $ 340.00 per hour. (Doc.
16-2.) Randy Cox, local counsel, billed 6.4 hours at a rate
of $ 300.00 per hour, for a total of $ 1, 920.00 (prior to
reduction). (Doc. 16-1.) Aviation Alliance argues that
Polaris' request is unreasonable for two reasons: (1) Mr.
White's rate should be reduced to reflect the prevailing
rate in Montana as opposed to California, and (2) the time
Mr. White devoted to a motion to dismiss-as opposed to the
motion to compel-should be excluded. Aviation Alliance's
first argument is well-taken. However, Mr. White's 25.4
hours will be billed at a rate of $300.00 per hour because
Aviation Alliance does not present any evidence as to what it
believes to be "the applicable Montana community
associate rate." (Doc. 17.) While Aviation Alliance
cites to a District of Montana case from 2012 that discusses
the prevailing rate at that time, Edu. Logistics, Inc. v.
Laidlaw Transit, Inc., 2012 WL 1142674 (D. Mont. Apr. 4,
2012), it does not explain how this older case is
determinative of the Montana rate in the present case. Mr.
White's time will therefore be billed at the same rate as
local counsel, Mr. Cox.
Aviation Alliance's second objection, there is no
indication that the time spent on the motion to compel as
outlined in Mr. White's affidavit is divisible from that
spent working on a potential alternative request for relief
under that same motion. A reduction on those grounds is
therefore not appropriate. However, as outlined in this
Court's previous order, Polaris' recovery will be
reduced by half to account for the results obtained.
(See Doc. 15); Kerr, 526 F.2d at 70. The
resulting attorneys' fees calculation is as follows:
$ 1, 920.00
$ 7, 620.00
$ 9, 540.00
One Half of Total
$ 4, 770.00
IT IS ORDERED that within ninety (90) days from the date of
this Order, Aviation Alliance is directed to pay Polaris $ 4,
770.00 as compensation for attorneys' fees ...