United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Fort Lauderdale Division
ORDER AWARDING ATTORNEY'S FEES PURSUANT TO RULE
O. VALLE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants BP Exploration &
Production Inc. and BP America Production Company's
(collectively, “Defendants”) request for
attorney's fees. See (ECF No. 30). For the
reasons set forth below, Defendants are awarded $4, 080 in
attorney's fees pursuant to Rule 37 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure.
March 6, 2019, Defendants filed a motion to compel discovery
seeking responses from Plaintiff Alejandro Nelson to their
requests for production and interrogatories. (ECF No. 24).
According to the undersigned's discovery procedures,
Plaintiff's response was due March 13, 2019. (ECF No.
25). On March 18, 2019, after Plaintiff failed to respond,
the undersigned entered an Order requiring Plaintiff to show
cause by March 20, 2019 why the motion to compel should not
be granted by default. (ECF No. 26). Plaintiff nonetheless
failed to respond to the motion to compel and the Order to
show cause. Accordingly, on March 21, 2019, the undersigned
granted the motion to compel. (ECF No. 29). No. fees were
awarded on this motion.
on April 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed another motion to compel
discovery (the “second motion to compel”),
alleging that Plaintiff's responses to interrogatories
1-12, 14, 18, 19, and 22-25 were incomplete, and requesting
attorney's fees under Rule 37. (ECF No. 30). Although
Plaintiff's response was due on April 11, 2019, Plaintiff
again failed to respond. (ECF No. 33). The undersigned
ordered Plaintiff to show cause by April 16, 2019 why the
motion should not be granted by default with Defendants
awarded attorney's fees. (ECF No. 35). Plaintiff failed
to respond. Consequently, the undersigned entered an Order
granting plaintiff's second motion to compel and awarding
Defendants reasonable attorney's fees for the cost of
preparing the second motion to compel. (ECF No. 36).
Additionally, the undersigned required Defendants to provide
documentation to support their request for fees. (ECF No.
36). In compliance with this Court's order, Plaintiff
submitted its attorney's hourly rates and billing
statements to support its request for $4, 800 in fees
incurred in drafting the second motion to compel. (ECF Nos.
The Lodestar Method of Determining Reasonable Fees
in the Eleventh Circuit use the “lodestar” method
to calculate the value of an attorney's services.
Norman v. Hous. Auth. of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292,
1299 (11th Cir. 1988). Under the lodestar method, a court
first determines the reasonable rate of an attorney's
services and then determines whether the amount of hours
expended by counsel was reasonable. Id. at
1299-1302. “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
(citation omitted). The relevant legal community is
“the place where the case is filed.” ACLU of
Ga. v. Barnes, 168 F.3d 423, 437 (11th Cir. 1999)
(citation omitted). Additionally, “[i]n determining
what is a ‘reasonable' hourly rate and what number
of compensable hours is ‘reasonable,' the court is
to consider the 12 factors enumerated in Johnson v.
Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714
(5th Cir. 1974).” The movant “bears the burden of
producing satisfactory evidence that the requested rate is in
line with prevailing market rates, ” and
“[s]atisfactory evidence at a minimum is more than the
affidavit of the attorney performing the work.”
Norman, 836 F.2d at 1299.
determining whether the amount of hours expended by counsel
was reasonable, the court “must deduct time spent on
discrete and unsuccessful claims.” Id. at
1302. (citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424,
435 (1983)). Further, where a court finds the number of hours
claimed by counsel is unreasonably high, the court may
conduct an hour-by-hour analysis or reduce the requested
hours with an across-the-board cut, but not both. Bivins
v. Wrap It Up, Inc., 548 F.3d 1348, 1350 (11th Cir.
2008) (citation omitted). Courts need not become
“green-eyeshade accountants.” Fox v.
Vice, 563 U.S. 826, 838 (2011). The essential goal for
the court is to “do rough justice, not to achieve
auditing perfection.” Id.
Reasonable Hourly Rate
the lodestar method, the undersigned first evaluates whether
the rate submitted by counsel is reasonable for the South
Florida legal market. The Court is deemed an expert on the
issue of hourly rates and may properly 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.”
Loranger, 10 F.3d at 781 (quoting Norman,
836 F.2d at 1301). A reasonable hourly rate is determined by
considering “the prevailing market rate in the relevant
legal community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably
comparable skills, experience, and reputation.”
Plaintiff seeks reimbursement for attorney Mihai Vrasmasu
from the law firm of Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. Mr.
Vrasmasu is a partner at the law firm with more than ten
years' experience litigating cases in both state and
federal courts. Defendants request reimbursement at an hourly
rate of $500 for Mr. Vrasmasu's services. Based on its
experience, the Court finds that the matters involved in the
second motion to compel were neither complex nor novel and do
not support an award at $500 per hour. See Hermosilla v.
Coca-Cola Co., 10-21418-CIV, 2011 WL 9364952, at *12
(S.D. Fla. July 15, 2011) (Torres, Mag. J.) (awarding hourly
rate of $425 in attorney's fees because matter was not
“extraordinary” to support requested rate of
$500-$600 for South Florida partners). The Court determines
that $425 per hour is a more reasonable rate of pay for Mr.
Vrasmasu's work in connection with the second motion to
Reasonable Hours Expended
determined counsel's reasonable hourly rate, the
undersigned next determines the reasonableness of the hours
expended by counsel. With regards to hours spent, fee
applicants must exercise what the Supreme Court has termed
“billing judgment.” Hensley, 461 U.S. at
434. That means they must exclude from their fee applications
excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary hours, which
are hours “that would be unreasonable to bill to a
client and therefore to one's adversary irrespective of
the skill, reputation or experience of
counsel.” Norman, 836 ...