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Inlet Marina Villas Condominium Association, Inc. v. United Specialty Insurance Co.

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

June 13, 2019

INLET MARINA VILLAS CONDOMINUM ASSOCIATION, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY and INTERSTATE FIRE & CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          DANIEL C. IRICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This cause comes before the Court for consideration without oral argument on the following motion:

MOTION: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO QUANTIFY ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS (Doc. 32)
FILED: April 12, 2019
THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. Background

         In June 2017, Plaintiff filed in state court a two-count Amended Complaint against Defendant, an insurance company, for Breach of Contract relating to the damages Plaintiff suffered as a result of Hurricane Matthew. Doc. 2. On July 19, 2017, Defendant removed the case to this Court. Doc. 1. In August 2017, the Court compelled the parties to engage in arbitration, stayed the proceedings, and retained jurisdiction to “adjudicate any post-arbitration motions the parties may make.” Doc. 16. On January 12, 2019, a panel of arbitrators issued a decision in Plaintiff's favor. Docs. 23 at 2; 23-1.

         On January 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs. Doc. 23. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that it is entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs, and a good faith estimate was $699, 000 to $815, 500. Doc. 23 at 4. Defendant did not dispute entitlement to an award of a reasonable fee and costs, but contested the amount sought. Id. 5-6.

         On February 6, 2019, the undersigned conducted a hearing on the matter. At the hearing, the parties agreed that the Court is the proper venue to resolve the request for fees and costs, and Defendant acknowledged Plaintiff's entitlement to a reasonable award of attorney fees and costs but opposed Plaintiff's request for a multiplier and the amount sought. See Doc. 29 at 2. Based on the arguments, the Court granted Plaintiff's request that it be entitled to a reasonable award of attorney fees and costs and set a deadline for the parties to exchange information and brief the issue of quantification. Id.

         Plaintiff has since filed its Motion to Quantify Attorney Fees and Costs (the Motion). Doc. 32. According to the Motion, the parties have reached an agreement about the reasonableness of hours expended by all of Plaintiff's attorneys except Anthony Michael Duffy, and the hourly rates of all but three attorneys. Id. at 1-2. The issues that remain for consideration are: (1) the hourly rates for Attorneys Duffy, Dickey, and Dankelman; (2) Attorney Duffy's reasonable hours expended; (3) the multiplier; and (3) printing costs.

         As to the lodestar, Plaintiff seeks the following:

Name

Rate

Hours

Total

Kelly Kubiak

$450

2.10

$945

Farana Bradley[1]

$125

153.60

$19, 200

Shane Smith

$450

.70

$315

Donna Alvarez

$125

4.8

$600

Michael Duffy

$550

350.5

$192, 775

Edward Eshoo, Jr.

$500

.1

$50

Melissa Reach

$125

1.0

$125

Marie Laur

$275

2.10

$577.50

Vivian Castillo

$125

2.8

$350

Chad Young

$125

2.9

$362.50

Eric Dickey

$450

328.1

$147, 645

Lisa Liberher

$125

.90

$112.50

Ian Dankelman

$350

112.60

$39, 140

Christina Potter

$275

.10

$27.50

Total Lodestar

$402, 225

         In support of that lodestar, Plaintiff's counsel - i.e. Attorneys Duffy, Dickey, and Dankelman - attached affidavits. Docs. 32-1, 32-2, 32-3. Plaintiff also retained David C. Prather as a fee expert and attached his affidavit. Doc. 32-4. Plaintiff also seeks a contingency fee multiplier of 1.50. Doc. 32 at 8. Plaintiff argues that the multiplier is appropriate, and after its application to the lodestar, the Court should issue a fee of $603, 337.50. Id. at 9. Plaintiff also seeks costs in the amount of $31, 968.36. Id. at 10.

         In response, Defendant challenges the number of hours attributed to Attorney Duffy's time and the hourly rate for Attorney Duffy, Dickey, and Dankelman. Doc. 37 at 1. With respect to Attorney Duffy, Defendant argues that 154 hours should be removed from the 350.5 total claimed because the hours include non-compensable travel time reflected in impermissible block billing. Id. at 4. It is Defendant's position that it is impossible for the Court to determine the amount of non-compensable travel time contained within the block-billed entries, and the time claimed should either be eliminated from the lodestar analysis altogether or substantially reduced. Id. at 7.

         With respect to rates, Defendant argues that the hourly rate included in Plaintiff's lodestar for Attorneys Duffy, Dickey, and Dankelman should be reduced by $100 (i.e., Attorney Duffy at $450, Attorney Dickey at $350, and Attorney Dankelman at $250). Id. at 9. In support of its argument, Defendant has attached an affidavit from Michaela D. Scheihing, an attorney practicing in Volusia County who handles first party insurance cases as a certified mediator. Doc. 37-2. Defendant also opposes the application of the multiplier and $21, 546.60 in printing charges reflected in the costs. Id. at 10-23. As to the lodestar, Defendant proposes the following:

Name

Rate

Hours

Total

Uncontested Amounts

Varied

171.1

$22, 665

Michael Duffy

$450

239.5

$107, 775

Eric Dickey

$350

328.1

$114, 835

Ian Dankelman

$250

112.6

$28, 150

Total Lodestar

$273, 425

Id. at 10. Pl ainti ff did not seek leave to reply to Defendant's response, and the Motion was referred to the undersigned and is now ripe for consideration.

         II. Discussion

         As set forth in more detail in the paragraphs that follow, the undersigned respectfully recommends that the Court award Plaintiff attorney fees in the amount of $273, 425.00 and costs in the amount of $10, 421.86. Specifically, Attorney Duffy's hourly rate should be $450, Attorney Dickey's hourly rate should be $350, and Attorney Dankelman's rate should be $250.00. Attorney Duffy should be permitted to recover 280.4 hours, which reduces Plaintiff's lodestar for this attorney by 70.1 hours. Finally, the ...


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