United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ARNOLD SANSONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
All Florida Weatherproofing & Construction, Inc., Richard
Fulford, and Robert Mendenhall (collectively, the defendants)
move for an award of appellate attorney's fees. (Docs.
245, 247, 252). Plaintiff Houston Specialty Insurance Company
(HSIC) opposes the motion. (Doc. 246).
filed this declaratory judgment action to determine whether
insurance coverage existed in connection with tort claims
brought by Enoch Vaughn against the defendants in a separate
action. (Doc. 1). The court determined coverage existed and
entered declaratory judgments in favor of the defendants.
(Docs. 205, 206, 207, 208). HSIC appealed the declaratory
judgments to the Eleventh Circuit. (Doc. 216). While the
appeal was pending, the court awarded the defendants'
attorney's fees as the prevailing party in this action.
(Docs. 229, 231). HSIC appealed the award of attorney's
fees. (Doc. 233).
Eleventh Circuit affirmed the declaratory judgments entered
in favor of the defendants and the award of attorney's
fees. (Docs. 242, 243, 248, 249). Based on their status as
the prevailing parties on appeal, the defendants moved the
Eleventh Circuit for appellate attorney's fees and to
transfer the motion to this court. (Doc. 245). HSIC responded
in opposition to the defendants' motion. (Doc. 246).
Eleventh Circuit ruled the defendants were entitled to
appellate attorney's fees and transferred to this court
consideration of the reasonable amount of appellate
attorney's fees. (Doc. 244). The matter was referred to
the undersigned for issuance of a report and recommendation
on the disposition of the motion. (Doc. 251).
the Eleventh Circuit, the district court employs the federal
lodestar approach to set reasonable fee awards.”
Loranger v. Stierheim, 10 F.3d 776, 781 (11th Cir.
1994) (per curiam). “Under the federal lodestar
approach, the Court multiplies the number of hours reasonably
expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly
rate.” Lumpuy v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., No.
8:11-CV-2455-T-24MAP, 2015 WL 1708875, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Apr.
15, 2015) (citing Norman v. Hous. Auth. of City of
Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 1988)).
computation of a fee award is necessarily an exercise of
judgment, because there is no precise rule or formula for
making these determinations.” Villano v.
City of Boynton Beach, 254 F.3d 1302, 1305 (11th Cir.
2001) (internal quotation omitted). Considering the court
“is itself an expert on the question [of attorney's
fees], ” it “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 at
1303 (quoting Campbell v. Green, 112 F.2d 143, 144
(5th Cir. 1940)).
defendants seeks the following appellate attorney's fees:
an award for the work of Daniel Martinez, Esq. at $550 per
hour for 41.1 hours; an award for the work of Weslee L.
Ferron, Esq. at $450 per hour for 140.4 hours; and an award
for the work of Scott K. Hewitt, Esq. at $300 per hour for
37.5 hours. (Doc. 245, p. 7). In sum, the defendants request
an award of appellate attorney's fees in the amount of
$97, 035.00. (Id.).
raises two objections in response. (Doc. 246). First, HSIC
objects to the requested hourly rates. (Id. at pp.
5-6). Second, HSIC objects to 4.5 hours of Mr. Martinez's
time. (Id. at p. 7). The court will address each
Reasonable Hourly Rates
contends the court should reduce the hourly rate for Mr.
Martinez to $400 per hour and the hourly rate for Ms. Ferron
to $300-$325 per hour. (Id. at pp. 5-6). HSIC contends
these reduced hourly rates are supported by its expert, W.
Gray Dunlap, Jr. (See Doc. 228).
reasonable hourly rate is based on “the prevailing
market rate in the relevant legal community for similar
services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skills,
experience, and reputation.” Norman, 836 F.2d
at 1299 (citations omitted). An applicant may meet its burden
of establishing a reasonably hourly rate by setting forth
direct evidence of rates charged under similar circumstances
or submitting opinion evidence of reasonable rates. See
Id. In addition, the court ...