• Court Rules on Plaintiff’s Fee Petition Following Jury Verdict in Favor of Plaintiff in FCRA Lawsuit
  • July 26, 2010 | Author: Matthew Kasey Ratliff
  • Law Firm: Strasburger & Price, LLP - Dallas Office
  • Naill v. Lincoln Mortgage, LLC, et al., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56464 (W.D. Va. June 7, 2010)

    Facts: The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff and against the Defendant under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) for $1,000 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages. Plaintiff filed a motion seeking an award of costs and attorney’s fees and defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiff’s motion. The court granted Plaintiff’s motion in part and denied in part.

    • Attorney’s Fees. Defendant opposes Plaintiff’s motion because Defendant contends that the record fails to separate time spent on the prevailing claim from time spent on claims where Plaintiff did not prevail, that some of Plaintiff’s charges are duplicative and involved non-compensable travel time and that Plaintiff’s counsel’s $425 hourly rate is unreasonable.
    • Attorney’s Fees. In calculating an award of attorney’s fees under the FCRA, the court is to perform a lodestar calculation by multiplying the number of reasonable hours spent on the case by a reasonable hourly rate. The court is then to subtract fees for hours spent on unsuccessful, unrelated claims before awarding some percentage of the remaining amount based on the degree of success the Plaintiff enjoyed. According to the controlling authorities in this circuit, the burden rests with the fee applicant to establish the reasonableness of the attorney’s hourly compensation rate.
    • Attorney’s Fees.  Fees are not unreasonably duplicative simply because the opposing party says so by some general assertion of unreasonableness or merely because two attorneys may be working on the case. The court overrules the Defendant’s objections based on duplication of counsel’s efforts.
    • Attorney’s Fees. The question is not what other attorneys in the market believe is reasonable, or what other lawyers believe the moving lawyer is worth, or what the lawyers believe they are worth to themselves. If the court were to adopt this approach, the market inflates with every application for an award of fees. The proverbial foxes then guard the chicken house. Affidavits submitted by Plaintiff indicate that the most recent fee awards in this geographic area have been $375 per hour. To this court, that rate was and remains at the top end of the scale charged by lawyers either in the Charlottesville or Harrisonburg Divisions. Plaintiff’s counsel’s rate of $425 per hour seems far above the prevailing market rate. Therefore, Plaintiff’s counsel will be compensated at a rate of $375 per hour.