United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
G. WILSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
defendants, Legal Prevention Services, LLC, and Walden Asset
Management, LLC, were found, by default, to have violated the
Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act, and the Telephone Consumer
Protection Act, while attempting to collect from the
plaintiffs an alleged debt (Doc. 46; see Doc. 1).
Consequently, the plaintiffs were awarded damages (Doc.
The court retained jurisdiction over a motion for
attorneys' fees and costs (see id.). The
plaintiff has filed a Motion to Tax Attorneys' Fees and
Costs as to Defendants Legal Prevention Services, LLC and
Walden Asset Management, LLC and Incorporated Memorandum of
Law (Doc. 50). The motion was referred to me for a report and
recommendation (see Dkt. Entry, 9/1/2017). Having
considered the materials submitted and the governing legal
standards, I recommend that the plaintiffs be awarded $3,
661.75 in attorneys' fees and $425.79 in costs against
defendant Walden Asset Management, LLC. I further recommend
that the plaintiffs be awarded $4, 476.25 in attorneys'
fees and $228.28 in costs against defendant Legal Prevention
plaintiffs, Elsa Castro and Nick Tosto, sued Legal Prevention
Services, LLC ("LPS"), and Walden Asset Management,
LLC ("Walden"), and other defendants, asserting
various claims including the claims that the defendants
violated the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act
("FCCPA"), Fla. Stat. § 559.55 et
seq., the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.,
and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"),
47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq. The basis for the law
suit was that the defendants without the plaintiffs'
consent on various occasions, called the plaintiffs'
cellular phones in an attempt to collect a debt from
plaintiff Castro by using an automatic telephone dialing
system, a predictive telephone dialing system, or an
artificial pre-recorded voice (id.).
service was executed on the defendants, they did not answer
the complaint. Consequently, on June 23, 2016, the clerk
entered defaults against the defendants (Docs. 19, 21). The
court awarded the plaintiffs statutory damages under the
FDCPA, FCCPA, and the TCPA (Doc. 46). Thereafter, judgment
was entered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the
defendants with the court reserving jurisdiction over the
matter of attorneys' fees and costs (Doc. 48).
plaintiffs then timely filed this motion for attorneys'
fees and costs (Doc. 50). The plaintiffs seek an award of $3,
661.75 for attorneys' fees, and costs totaling $425.79
against defendant Walden (Doc. 50). The plaintiffs also seek
an award of $4, 476.25 for attorneys' fees, and costs
totaling $228.28 against defendant LPS (Doc. 50). The motion
is supported by the attorneys' time records and
affidavits, and lists for costs (see Doc. 50-1). As
indicated, the motion was referred to me for a report and
recommendation (see Dkt. Entry, 9/1/2017). The
defendants, who were served with this motion (see
Doc. 50, p. 9), have not filed a response.
counsel seeks an award of attorneys' fees pursuant to the
FDCPA and FCCPA (Doc. 50), which contain provisions that
render a debt collector liable to a successful plaintiff for
reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs. 15 U.S.C.
1692k(a)(3); Fla. Stat. § 559.77(2). Based on the
judgment entered in the plaintiffs' favor (Doc. 48), they
are successful plaintiffs who are entitled to reasonable
attorneys' fees pursuant to the FDCPA and FCCPA. See
Buckhannon Bd. and Care Home. Inc. v. West Virginia Dept. of
Health and Human Resources, 532 U.S. 598, 603 (2001).
Thus, the only question addressed here is the amount of those
fees and costs.
FDCPA and FCCPA direct that successful plaintiffs be awarded
a "reasonable" attorney's fee. The federal
lodestar approach is recognized as the foundation for setting
reasonable fee awards pursuant to the FDCPA and FCCPA. See
Moton v. Nathan & Nathan, P.C., 297 Fed.Appx.
930.931 -32 (11th Cir. 2008); Dish Network
Service L.L.C. v. Myers, 87 So.3d 72, 77 (Fla. App.
2012). This method requires the court to determine a
"lodestar figure" by multiplying a reasonable
hourly rate for the services of the prevailing party's
attorney by the number of hours reasonably expended on the
litigation. Norman v. The Housing Authority of the City
of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir.
1988). The fee applicant bears the burden of
presenting satisfactory evidence to establish that the
requested rate is in accord with the prevailing market rate
and that the hours are reasonable, Id. at 1299,
1303. Once the lodestar is determined, the court must
consider whether an adjustment of the lodestar for the
results obtained is appropriate. Moton v. Nathan &
Nathan. P.C., supra, 297 Fed.Appx. at 932.
indicated, the plaintiffs argue that the court should award
them attorneys' fees of $3, 661.75 against defendant
Walden, and $4, 476.25 in attorneys' fees against
defendant LPS (Doc. 50).
courts must determine a reasonable hourly rate for the
services of the prevailing party's attorney. "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 v. The Housing Authority of the
City of Montgomery, supra, 836 F.2d at 1299.
The fee applicant bears the burden of "supplying the
court with specific and detailed evidence from which the
court can determine the reasonable hourly rate."
Id. at 1303. Evidence of prevailing rates for
comparable services can be adduced either through direct
evidence of charges by lawyers under similar circumstances or
by opinion, Id. at 1299. "[T]he best
information available to the court is usually a range of fees
set by the market place." Id. at 1301.
Furthermore, "[t]he court... is itself an expert on the
question [of attorneys' fees] and may consider its own
knowledge and experience concerning reasonable and proper
fees." Id. at 1303.
plaintiffs were represented in this matter by attorney Aaron
M. Swift and other attorneys from the law firm of Leavengood,
Dauval, Boyle & Meyer, P.A. (Doc. 50-1, p. 2). Attorney
Swift was counsel that was primarily responsible for the case
(id.). Swift requests fees based on hourly rates
ranging from $100 to $300 (see id., pp. 13-67).
my knowledge of prevailing market rates in Tampa and the
specifics of this case, including the defendants' lack of
opposition, a reasonable hourly rate for this case ranges
from $100 to $300. See Norman v. The Housing Authority of
the City of Montgomery, supra, 836 F.2d at 1303
(the court is itself an expert). Indeed, taking into
consideration the number of hours expended on this matter and
the lack of opposition, the ...