United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
TIMOTHY J. CAVAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
April 4, 2018, the Court held oral argument on Plaintiff Tina
McColl's Motion to Compel Discovery. (Doc. 106.) The
Court granted in part, and denied in part, Plaintiff's
request for costs and fees associated with the deposition of
Sara Schroeder. (Doc. 107.) The Court ordered Defendant
Allied Professionals Insurance Company (“Allied”)
to pay reasonable costs and fees associated with the
deposition, as well as fees and costs associated with
post-deposition motions and briefs that related directly to
the Schroeder deposition. (Id.) However, the Court
found Plaintiff's requested fees and costs had not been
properly supported. (Id.) Therefore, the Court
ordered Plaintiff's counsel to submit an affidavit
itemizing and detailing the costs and fees claimed, and
explaining how each cost and fee related to the deposition.
(Id.) In addition, the Court directed counsel to
explain how he apportioned the costs and fees associated with
post-deposition motions and briefs. (Id.) At the
April 4 hearing, and again in its order, the Court cautioned
Plaintiff's counsel that if it could not be determined
from counsel's explanation how any of the fees and costs
related to the deposition, or how an invoice item was
apportioned, counsel's request for that particular cost
or fee would be denied. (Id.)
counsel filed a Declaration in Support of Attorney's Fees
and Costs (Doc. 106); Allied filed a Response (Doc. 108); and
Plaintiff's counsel replied and supplied a Supplemental
Declaration (Doc. 109).
calculate a reasonable award of attorney's fees, the
Court looks to the lodestar approach set forth in Hensley
v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). Finley v.
Hartford Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 249 F.R.D. 329,
332-33 (N.D. Cal. 2008) (applying the lodestar method to an
award of attorney's fees under Fed.R.Civ.P 37). The basic
lodestar method requires the Court to multiply the number of
hours reasonably expended by a reasonable hourly rate.
Grove v. Wells Fargo Fin. Cal., Inc., 606 F.3d 577,
582 (9th Cir. 2010). The party requesting an award of
attorney's fees must present evidence supporting the
number of hours worked and the hourly rate claimed. Van
Gerwen v. Guarantee Mut. Life Co., 214 F.3d 1041, 1045
(9th Cir. 2000). The Court may reduce the award of fees if
the documentation supporting the request is inadequate.
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433.
requesting party “must provide detailed time records
documenting the task completed and the time spent.”
I.E.I. Co. v. Advance Cultural Ed., 2011 WL 1335407,
*4 (N.D. Cal. 2011). “In determining the appropriate
number of hours to be included in a lodestar calculation, the
district court should exclude hours ‘that are
excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.'”
McCown v. City of Fontana, 565 F.3d 1097, 1102 (9th
Cir. 2009) (citing Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434).
reasonable hourly rate is determined according to prevailing
market rates in the relevant legal community. Carson v.
Billings Police Dep't, 470 F.3d 889, 892 (9th Cir.
2006) (“[T]he ‘prevailing market rate,' not
the individual contract, provides the standard for lodestar
calculations.”). The burden of establishing the
applicable market rate is on the requesting party. Generally,
this is accomplished through affidavits, from the attorney
performing the work and from another attorney who can testify
to the current market rate. Blum v. Stenson, 465
U.S. 886, 896 n.11 (1984). The Court may also rely, in part,
“on its own knowledge and experience” with the
community's legal market and customary hourly rates.
Ingram v. Oroudjian, 647 F.3d 925, 928 (9th Cir.
calculating the lodestar amount, the Court may then increase
or reduce the lodestar figure based on an evaluation of the
factors set forth in Kerr v. Screen Extras
Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67 (9th Cir.1975). Chalmers v.
City of Los Angeles, 796 F.2d 1205, 1212 (9th Cir.
1986). The Ninth Circuit has cautioned that the lodestar
amount should only be adjusted “in rare and exceptional
cases.” Welch v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 480
F.3d 942, 946 (9th Cir. 2007). There is a strong presumption
that the lodestar figure represents a reasonable fee.
Jordan v. Multnomah County, 815 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th
Reasonable Hours Expended
counsel's breakdown of the fees and costs is confusing
and contradictory. In his initial declaration,
Plaintiff's counsel asserts he expended 170 hours over a
period of six months on discovery-related issues. (Doc. 106
at ¶ 8.) He states the deposition and non-deposition
issues are “inextricably intertwined so that no precise
division of time can be had.” (Id. at ¶
9.) But he estimates that one-half of the time, or 85 hours,
was related to deposition issues. (Id.) Counsel then
goes on, however, to itemize the fees and costs he claims to
be associated with the Schroeder deposition. (Id. at
¶¶ 16-30.) All together, the itemized breakdown
totals 162.55 hours. (Id.)
reply, counsel again outlines his time expended on various
discovery disputes. (Doc. 109.) Although it is difficult to
determine precisely what portion of that time counsel
attributes to the Sara Schroeder deposition, it appears
counsel claims a total of approximately 187.45 hours.
(Id. at 2-4.) But then, without explanation, counsel
requests that he be reimbursed the sum of 59.9 hours at $300
per hour. (Id. at 4.) It is not at all clear which
of the previously outlined items are included in the 59.9
Court finds Counsel's declarations are generally
insufficient. Simply estimating that 50% of the time was
spent on deposition issues falls well short of the
specificity ordered by the Court. Further, counsel has
presented the information in an inconsistent and unclear
manner. Nevertheless, the Court determines that the following
costs and fees are sufficiently documented and reasonably
related to Ms. Schroeder's deposition, and should
therefore be awarded to Plaintiff. All other requested fees
and costs are denied as inadequately documented or
Travel to deposition
Deposition of Ms. Schroeder
Travel from deposition
Objection to readmission of Kadish
Hearing before Judge Haddon
2/14/18 - 3/5/18
Preparation of Brief and Declaration in Support