United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
B. SMITH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile
Company's Motion for Attorneys' Fees (Doc. 77)
associated with its prior motion for protective order (Doc.
68). In granting the motion for protective order, the Court
determined that State Farm was entitled to its reasonable
expenses incurred in making the motion, including
attorneys' fees (Doc. 73 at 5-6). Now, State Farm seeks
an award of $6, 352 in fees based upon 18.9 total hours
expended by three attorneys, at rates ranging from $270 to
$550 per hour. Plaintiff opposes this amount, and argues that
a reasonable fee is $962.50 for 3.5 hours expended at an
average rate of $275 hour (Doc. 78). On review, the motion
for fees is GRANTED, in part, and State Farm
shall recover a reasonable fee of $3, 347.50.
Court employs the customary lodestar approach as the first
step in calculating a reasonable fee for the services of
State Farm's attorneys. Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424 (1983); Norman v. Hous. Auth. of the City of
Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 1988);
FTC v. Life Mngm't Servs., Case No.
6:16-cv-982-Orl-41TBS, 2016 WL 7013517, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Oct.
14, 2016). “[T]he starting point in any determination
for an objective estimate of the value of a lawyer's
services is to multiply hours reasonably expended by a
reasonable hourly rate.” Norman, 836 F.2d at
1299. “[T]he fee applicant bears the burden of
establishing entitlement to an award and documenting the
appropriate hours expended and hourly rates.” Henns
v. Mony Life Ins. Co. of Am., Case No.
5:11-cv-55-Oc-37TBS, 2012 WL 1599871, at *3 (M.D. Fla. April
13, 2012), quoting Hensley, 461 U.S. at 437.
lodestar as calculated in Hensley presumptively
includes all of the twelve factors derived from the ABA Code
of Professional Responsibility DR 2-106 (1980), and adopted
in Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488
F.2d 714 (5th Cir. 1974), except on rare occasions the factor
of results obtained and, perhaps, enhancement for
contingency.” Norman, 836 F.2d at 1299. The
Johnson factors are: (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. Johnson, 488 F.2d
at 717-19 (abrogated on other grounds by Blanchard v.
Bergeron, 489 U.S. 87 (1989)).
the Court has determined the lodestar, it may adjust the
amount upward or downward based on a number of factors
including the results obtained. Norman, 836 F.2d at
1302. “Ultimately, the computation of a fee award is
necessarily an exercise of judgment, because ‘[t]here
is no precise rule or formula for making these
determinations.'” Villano v. City of Boynton
Beach, 254 F.3d 1302, 1305 (11th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 436). The Court is “an
expert on the question [of attorneys' fees] and may
consider its own knowledge and experience concerning
reasonable and proper fees and may form an independent
judgment either with or without the aid of witnesses as to
value.” Norman, 836 F.2d 1303 (quoting
Campbell v. Green, 112 F.2d 143, 144 (5th Cir.
amount of time billed is viewed as “the most useful
starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable
fee.” Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433. The applicant
should present records detailing the amount of work
performed. Once the party seeking fees produces adequate
billing records, the opponent “has the burden of
pointing out with specificity which hours should be
deducted.” Rynd v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Ins.
Co., No. 8:09-cv-1556-T-27TGW, 2012 WL 939387, at * 3
(M.D. Fla. Jan. 25, 2012) (quoting Centex-Rooney Const.
Co., Inc. v. Martin Cnty, 725 So.2d 1255, 1259 (Fla. 4th
DCA 1999)); Norman, 836 F.2d at 1301.
awarding an attorney's fee, the ‘[c]ourts are not
authorized to be generous with the money of others, and it is
as much the duty of the courts to see that excessive fees and
expenses are not awarded as it is to see that an adequate
amount is awarded.'” Oden v. Vilsack, No.
10-00212-KD-M, 2013 WL 4046456, at *4 (S.D. Ala., Aug. 9,
2013) (quoting Am. Civil Liberties Union of Ga. v.
Barnes, 168 F.3d 423, 428 (11th Cir. 1999)).
Farm is represented by three Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A.
attorneys: Benjamine Reid (a shareholder), D. Matthew Allen
(a shareholder), and Jon M. Philipson (an associate). The
motion calculates the time expended by each attorney and the
rates charged as follows:
• Mr. Reid, the lead and most senior attorney, expended
2.8 hours, at a rate of $550 per hour, revising and
finalizing the motion;
• Mr. Allen, the next most senior attorney, expended 3.0
hours, at a rate of $425 per hour, revising the motion,
conferring with deponents, and conducting the good faith
conference with Plaintiff's counsel;
• Mr. Philipson, the most junior attorney on the matter,
expended 13.1 hours, at a rate of $270 per hour, conducting
fact discovery, legal research, legal analysis of discovery
requests; conferring with deponents; and drafting and
revising the 16-page motion.
motion is accompanied by Mr. Reid's declaration
summarizing the considerable experience and qualifications of
counsel, providing edited time entries for the work
performed, and attesting that the time entries ...