Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Soriano v. C&N Management, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

May 19, 2017

KATHY SORIANO, Plaintiff,
v.
C&N MANAGEMENT, INC. and ACAPULCO MEXICAN GROCERY, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES S. MOODY. JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS 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.

         Plaintiff 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.

         The ADA 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, and costs.

         I. Reasonable Attorney's Fees

         Calculating 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 be considered).[1]

         The 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.

         Plaintiff 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.

         The 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.

         Likewise, 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.

         Mr. 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 this case.

         II. Expert Fees

         Plaintiff 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.

         Although 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, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.