United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. MOODY. JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's Motion for
Attorneys' Fees and Costs (Doc. 17) and Proposed Bill of
Costs (Doc. 18). Defendant has failed to respond to
Plaintiff's motion within the allowed timeframe. Upon
review, the Court concludes that Plaintiff's motion
should be granted in part.
filed this action in November 2016, alleging that Defendant
utilized debt collection practices that violated the Fair
Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), Florida
Consumer Collection Practices Act (“FCCPA”), and
the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
On May 2, 2017, the Court entered a final default judgment
against Defendant for violations of the FCCPA and TCPA. It
ordered Defendant to pay $1, 500 in damages to Plaintiff.
Plaintiff now seeks an award of his attorneys' fees and
Reasonable Attorneys' 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 fees for the services provided by attorneys
James S. Giardina and Kimberly S. Wochholz in this case. In
support of his request for fees, Plaintiff filed the
declarations of both attorneys and an itemized log of the
hours they billed. According to Plaintiff's records, Mr.
Giardina worked 4.6 hours at a rate of $350 per hour and Ms.
Wochholz worked 17.1 hours at a rate of $250 per hour. Their
combined fees totaled $5, 885.
11.4 of the 21.7 hours requested by Plaintiff are reasonable.
The other 10.3 hours were billed on a related case-case #
8:16-cv-00248-RAL-AEP. That case involved the same parties
and same claims but was dismissed after Plaintiff failed to
perfect service. Plaintiff contends that reducing fees for
the time spent on case # 8:16-cv-00248-RAL-AEP would reward
Defendant for avoiding service, but he has not submitted a
declaration or any other evidence from which the Court can
determine whether Defendant was in fact avoiding service.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not cited to any authority to
indicate that the Court can award fees incurred in a
different case, one in which he did not prevail. Accordingly,
the Court will not award fees for the time spent on case #
Court finds that the requested hourly rates are reasonable
based on Mr. Giardina's and Ms. Wochholz's experience
and the current market rates in Tampa. Mr. Giardina is the
managing partner of Consumer Rights Law Group, PLLC and has
litigated debt collection cases since 2005. Ms. Wochholz has
practiced consumer law since 2011. As Plaintiff demonstrated
in his briefing, courts in this judicial district have
repeatedly approved hourly rates of $350 and $250,
respectively, for these two attorneys. These rates are also
supported by the 2013-2014 United States Consumer Law
Attorney Fee Survey Report (Doc. 17-4), a market survey of
the fees charged by consumer law attorneys.
said, Plaintiff requests these rates for an hour's worth
of time that Mr. Giardina and Ms. Wochholz spent obtaining
service of process. This work did not require expertise in
consumer law and could have been done by a paralegal. Thus,
the Court will award an hourly rate of only $100 for that
time. See, e.g., Finley v. Crosstown Law, LLC, No.
8:14-CV-2541-T-30MAP, 2015 WL 2402461, at *3 (M.D. Fla. May
20, 2015) (finding hourly rate of $100 reasonable for
Plaintiff reasonably incurred $2, 810 in fees, which
consisted of 1.1 hours at an hourly rate of $350, 9.3 hours
at an hourly rate of $250, and 1 hour at an hourly rate of
$100. The Court sees no reason to adjust this figure upward
or downward based on the facts of this case.