United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. MOODY. JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's Verified
Application for Attorney's Fees, Litigation Expenses, and
Costs (Doc. 25). Defendants C&N Management, Inc. and
Acapulco Mexican Grocery, Inc. have failed to respond to
Plaintiff's motion within the allowed timeframe. Upon
review, the Court concludes Plaintiff's motion should be
granted in part.
filed this action under Title III of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”). She sought injunctive
relief because Defendants' store, Acapulco Mexican
Grocery, failed to comply with the ADA's accessibility
standards. On April 3, 2017, the Court entered a final
default judgment against Defendants, requiring them to
remediate their facility to remove the barriers to access.
provides that “in any action . . . commenced pursuant
to this chapter, the court . . . in its discretion, may allow
the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee,
including litigation expenses, and costs.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 12205. Plaintiff is the prevailing party. As such, she
now seeks an award of her attorney's fees, expert fees,
Reasonable Attorney's Fees
an appropriate fee award under federal law involves a
two-step process. Norman v. Hous. Auth. of City of
Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299-1302 (11th Cir. 1988).
The court first calculates the “lodestar” by
taking the number of hours reasonably expended on the
litigation and multiplying it by a reasonable hourly rate.
Id. The court may then adjust the lodestar upward or
downward based on an evaluation of additional factors.
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983);
see also Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express, Inc.,
488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir. 1974) (enumerating factors to
Eleventh Circuit has recognized that, “[u]ltimately,
the computation of a fee award is necessarily an exercise of
judgment because ‘there is no precise rule or formula
for making these determinations.'” Villano v.
City of Boynton Beach, 254 F.3d 1302, 1305 (11th Cir.
2001). The “fee applicant bears the burden of
establishing entitlement and documenting the appropriate
hours and hourly rates.” Norman, 836 F.2d at
1303. The applicant must produce satisfactory evidence that
the requested rate is within the prevailing market rates and
support the number of hours worked. Hensley, 461
U.S. at 433.
seeks an award of attorney's fees for the services
provided by Todd W. Shulby in this case. In support of her
request for fees, Plaintiff filed an affidavit by Mr. Shulby
and an itemized log of the hours he billed in this case.
According to Plaintiff's records, Mr. Shulby worked 11.4
hours at a rate of $350 per hour for a total of $3, 990.
Court finds that $350 is a reasonable hourly rate based on
Mr. Shulby's experience and the current market rate in
Tampa. Mr. Shulby has been practicing law since 1995. He has
concentrated his practice on civil rights litigation since
1996 and reports that he has litigated thousands of ADA
cases. As Plaintiff noted in her briefing, courts in this
Circuit have approved hourly rates ranging from $325 to $420
in other Title III cases. Thus, the Court will award the
hourly rate requested.
the Court finds that the hours Mr. Shulby spent litigating
this case were reasonable, with one exception. On December 6,
2016, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause
(“OSC”) because Plaintiff had not served
Defendant C&N Management, Inc., despite the fact that the
Court had provided Plaintiff two extensions of time in which
to do so. Plaintiff did not request an additional extension,
prompting the Court to issue the OSC. Mr. Shulby billed 0.5
hours in relation to the OSC-0.1 hours reviewing the OSC, 0.3
hours drafting a response, and 0.1 hours reviewing the
Court's subsequent order. Plaintiff should not be awarded
fees for this time, which would not have been necessary had
Plaintiff complied with the Federal and Local Rules. Thus,
the Court finds that only 10.9 of the 11.4 hours billed by
Mr. Shulby were reasonable.
Shulby reasonably incurred $3, 815 in attorney's fees
(i.e., 10.9 hours at $350 per hour), and the Court will award
Plaintiff fees in that amount. The Court sees no reason to
adjust this figure upward or downward based on the facts of
seeks compensation for the services of David Pedraza, an
expert witness Plaintiff retained to evaluate Acapulco
Mexican Grocery, the property believed to have barriers to
access. Plaintiff seeks $2, 800 in expert fees, encompassing
14 hours of work billed at a rate of $200 per hour. In
support of her request for fees, Plaintiff filed an affidavit
by Mr. Pedraza and an itemized log of the hours he billed.
She also cited to a few cases in which courts in this
District approved ADA experts' hourly rates of $150 and
documents indicating that two ADA defense consultants in this
Circuit charge an hourly rate of $200 to $300.
the Court can award expert fees as a litigation expense under
the ADA, it will not award the full amount requested. For the
reasons discussed herein, ...