United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
GREGORY A. PRESNELL UNITED STATES DSITRICT JUDGE.
issue of damages in this case was tried before me without a
jury on April 2, 2019.On April 8, 2019, I issued a Memorandum
Opinion and Order awarding Plaintiff $100, 000 in
compensatory and $100, 000 in punitive damages, a total of
$200, 000. (Doc. 40). The matter is now before me on
Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees (Doc. 41).
Defendant has not opposed the motion.
to the motion, Plaintiff's counsel took this case on a
contingent fee basis and expended 31.5 hours in its
prosecution. At his customary rate of $450 per hour, this
would equate to a fee of $14, 175.00. Plaintiff suggests an
enhancement multiplier of 2.25, resulting in a total fee
request of $31, 893.75.
Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3613(c)(2), and the
corresponding Florida Fair Housing Act, Florida Statute
§760.35, provide for a reasonable attorney's fee to
a prevailing plaintiff. The starting point in determining a
reasonable attorney's fee is the lodestar, which is the
number of hours reasonably expended on the case multiplied by
a reasonable hourly rate. Norman v. Hous. Auth. of City
of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 1988)
(citation omitted). There is a strong presumption that the
lodestar figure is reasonable. Perdue v. Kenny A. ex rel
Winn, 559 U.S. 542, 553-54 (2010). Nevertheless, the
Court may adjust the lodestar to account for a variety of
factors, including those identified in Johnson v. Ga.
Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir.
“bears the burden of establishing entitlement and
documenting the appropriate hours and hourly rates.”
Norman, 836 F.2d at 1303 (citation omitted).
“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.” Id. at 1299. Plaintiff
“bears the burden of producing satisfactory evidence
that the requested rate is in line with prevailing market
rates.” Id. However, the Court is an expert on
this matter and may “consider its own knowledge and
experience concerning reasonable and proper fees” and
“form an independent judgment ... without the aid of
witnesses.” Id. at 1303.
counsel is an experienced civil rights attorney who is well
known by me. In light of his standard hourly rate, my
familiarity with hourly rates charged by Central Florida
lawyers in cases such as this, and the Johnson
factors, I find that $400 per hour is a reasonable rate. In
addition, I have examined counsel's time sheets (Doc.
41-2) and find the entries to be appropriate and reasonable.
Accordingly, I conclude that the appropriate lodestar fee for
this case is $12, 600 (31.5 hours x $400 per hour).
Joyce v. Federated Nat'l Ins. Co., 228 So.3d
1122 (Fla. 2017), Plaintiff's counsel contends that,
because Plaintiff “prevailed on his Florida Fair
Housing claims as well as his analogous federal Fair Housing
claims, a [contingency fee] multiplier is mandatory under
Florida law.” (Doc. 41 at 5). However, Plaintiff's
counsel does not provide a pinpoint cite, and the Court's
review of that case finds no language supporting that
contention. In Joyce, the Florida Supreme Court
reversed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal,
which had held that contingency fee modifiers were available
only in “rare” and “exceptional”
circumstances, and reinstated the decision of the trial
court, which had found a contingency fee multiplier of 2.0 to
be appropriate. Id. at 1133-35.
doing, the Joyce court did not hold that such
multipliers were mandatory whenever a plaintiff prevails on a
Florida Fair Housing Act claim. Instead, the Joyce
court approved the trial court's application of standards
announced in Florida Patient's Compensation Fund v.
Rowe, 472 So.2d 1145 (Fla. 1985) and Standard
Guaranty Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So.2d 828 (Fla.
1990) to decide whether a multiplier is warranted - and, if
so, in what amount. Id. at 1135. In particular, the
Quanstrom court set forth the following three
factors for trial courts to consider in determining the
necessity of a contingency fee multiplier:
(1) whether the relevant market requires a contingency fee
multiplier to obtain competent counsel; (2) whether the
attorney was able to mitigate the risk of nonpayment in any
way; and (3) whether any of the factors in Rowe are
applicable, especially, the amount involved, the results
obtained, and the type of fee arrangement between the
attorney and his client.
Quanstrom at 834. In this case, Plaintiffs counsel
has not made the necessary information regarding these three
factors part of the record, and therefore the Court cannot
determine that a contingency fee multiplier is appropriate in
consideration of the foregoing, it is hereby
that the Motion is GRANTED. The Clerk is
directed to enter a judgment for attorney's fees in
Plaintiffs favor and against Defendant in the amount of $12,