United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
B. SMITH United States Magistrate Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Determine
Amount of Attorneys' Fees (Doc. 65). Although the motion
states that the relief is opposed, Defendants have filed no
response and the time for doing so has expired. When a party
fails to respond, that is an indication that the motion is
unopposed. Foster v. The Coca-Cola Co., No.
6:14-cv-2102-Orl-40TBS, 2015 WL 3486008, at *1 (M.D. Fla.
June 2, 2015); Jones v. Bank of Am., N.A., 564 F.
App'x 432, 434 (11th Cir. 2014) (citing Kramer v.
Gwinnett Cty., Ga., 306 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1221 (N.D.Ga.
2004); Brown v. Platinum Wrench Auto Repair, Inc.,
No. 8:10-cv-2168-T-33TGW, 2012 WL 333808, at *1 (M.D. Fla.
Feb. 1, 2012) (after party failed to respond, court treated
motion for summary judgment as unopposed). Now, the Court
proceeds on the basis that this motion is unopposed. Upon
review, the motion is GRANTED.
forth in prior Order (Doc. 63), Plaintiff, Ford Motor
Company, served Defendants with its First Interrogatories and
Requests for Production on November 23, 2016 (See
Doc. 45). Defendants, through counsel, sought and received
from Ford several extensions of time in which to respond to
this discovery. Pursuant to the third extension of time,
Defendants' responses were due on February 6, 2017
(Id.). Shortly thereafter, defense counsel
successfully moved to withdraw (Docs. 44, 47, 48, 51).
that Defendants failed to provide discovery in accordance
with the extended deadline, Ford filed a motion to compel
(Doc. 45). Neither Defendant filed any response to that
motion. As Defendants failed to respond to the discovery
requests and offered no objection to the relief sought, the
motion was granted, in part, on March 7, and Defendants were
ordered to answer the interrogatories and respond to the
requests for production within fourteen days of that date
(Doc. 52). Defendants were “cautioned that failure to
timely comply with the terms of this Order will result in the
imposition of sanctions, which may include monetary sanctions
or the striking of pleadings and entry of default.”
failed to comply with the Order and Ford filed a Motion to
Strike Defendants' Pleadings (Doc. 55). On review of the
motion, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause why
Defendants Mad Enterprise Group, LLC and Howard Scott Bassuk
should not be held in civil contempt and sanctions should not
be imposed for failing to comply with the Court's March
7, 2017 Order (Doc. 57). A hearing was held and Defendants,
through new counsel, appeared (Doc. 62). Following hearing,
the Court granted the Motion to Strike “to the extent
it seeks the imposition of sanctions and to the extent it
seeks an award of attorney's fees and costs pursuant to
Rule 37(b)(2)(c)” and determined that Ford “is
entitled to an award of attorney's fees and costs in
connection with the filing of the motion to compel, the
motion to strike, and the show cause hearing.” (Doc. 63
at 2). The Court directed the parties to confer in an effort
to reach a stipulated amount and to file either a stipulation
or a motion for fees and costs within fourteen days. The
instant motion timely followed.
Court has already determined that Ford is entitled to a fee
award and the only matter still at issue is the amount.
Federal courts apply the “lodestar” method for
calculating attorneys' fees, multiplying a reasonable
hourly rate by a reasonable number of hours expended. See
Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 888, 104 S.Ct. 1541, 79
L.Ed.2d 891 (1994); Norman v. Housing Auth. of
Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 1988).
“A reasonable hourly rate is the prevailing market rate
in the relevant legal community for similar services by
lawyers of reasonably comparable skills, experience, and
reputation.” Norman, 836 F.2d at 1299 (citing
Blum, 465 U.S. at 895-96 n. 11).
determining what is a reasonable fee, the Court is mindful of
the factors identified in Johnson v. Georgia Highway
Exp., Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir. 1974),
namely: (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
attorneys; (10) the undesirability of the case; (11) the
nature and length of the professional relationship with the
client; and (12) awards in similar cases.
fee applicant bears the burden of establishing entitlement
and documenting the appropriate hours and hourly
rates.” Norman, 836 F.2d at 1303. An applicant
may meet his or her burden by producing either direct
evidence of rates charged under similar circumstances, or
opinion evidence of reasonable rates. Norman, 836
F.2d at 1299. In addition, the court may use its own
expertise and judgment to make an appropriate independent
assessment of the value of an attorney's services.
Id. at 1303. With respect to hours, if an
applicant's documentation “is inadequate, the
district court may reduce the award accordingly.”
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983).
“Counsel for the prevailing party should make a good
faith effort to exclude from a fee request hours that are
excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.”
Id. at 434.
seeks an award of fees in the amount of $3,
As support for this award, Ford filed the affidavit of its
counsel, John R. Reid, Jr. (Doc 65-4), and biographical
information on the attorneys who billed time on this matter
on behalf of Ford (Docs. 65-5, 65-6 and 65-7). According to
the filings, the following professionals performed
1. Partner M. Gary Toole was admitted to the Florida Bar in
1987. His hourly rate is $235.00, and he billed $399.50 for
1.7 hours in connection with the motion to compel and motion
2. Partner John R. Reid, Jr., Esq., was admitted to the
Florida bar in 1994. His hourly rate is $215.00, and he
billed $861.00 for 4 hours in connection with the motion to
compel and motion to strike.
3. Associate Colby Nicole Ferris was admitted to the Florida
Bar in 2010. Her hourly rate is $145.00, and she billed $2,
189.50 for 15.1 hours in connection with the ...