United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division
CITIZENS FOR APPROPRIATE RURAL ROADS, INC., et al. Plaintiffs,
RAY LAHOOD, et al. Defendants.
ORDER ON DEFENDANT INDOT’S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES
SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE United States District Court
This cause is before the Court on Defendant INDOT’s Motion for Determination of Attorneys’ Fees [Docket No. 151], filed on November 6, 2013. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant INDOT’s award of attorneys’ fees is set at the adjusted level of $9880.
The underlying facts of this Administrative Procedure Act litigation can be found in the Court’s recent ruling on the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment. Docket No. 171. This request for attorneys’ fees stems from the Court’s October 2013 order sanctioning Plaintiffs for their dilatory conduct in prosecuting the case.
Since they filed their initial Complaint in this case, Plaintiffs have failed to follow the Court’s scheduling orders on several occasions. On March 21, 2013, in response to this pattern of repeated delay, Magistrate Judge Lynch ordered Plaintiffs to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 41(b) and Local Rule 41-1. Docket No. 133. On June 10, 2013, Defendant INDOT filed a motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution. Docket No. 136. After examining both the INDOT motion and Plaintiffs’ return to the show-cause order, the Court elected not to dismiss the suit. Docket No. 150 at 10.
We did, however, impose a lesser sanction on Plaintiffs, stating as follows:
We are authorized by statute and by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to impose sanctions, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, on parties failing to obey scheduling or other pretrial orders. See 28 U.S.C. § 1927 (authorizing sanctions against an attorney who “multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously”); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 16(f)(1)(C). We therefore order Plaintiffs to compensate Defendants for the attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred in preparing and briefing this motion to dismiss.
Id. at 10.
Shortly thereafter, INDOT filed its “motion for determination of attorneys fees” pursuant to our order. Docket No. 151. The motion, supported by the affidavit of lead attorney Albert M.
Ferlo, asserts that three attorneys for INDOT’s counsel, the firm Perkins Coie LLP, worked for a total of 40 hours in preparing the motion. Id. at 2. After applying the hourly rate each of the three attorneys charges INDOT for his or her work, Defendant arrives at the sum of $20, 749.50. Id.
Plaintiffs challenge this amount as excessive, and propose that a sum between $5000 and $10, 000 would be reasonable. Docket No. 157.
I. Standard for reasonable attorneys’ fees awards
In setting the amount of an attorneys’ fees award, federal courts usually follow the lead of the United States Supreme Court, whose decision on a fee award under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 in Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424 (1983), stated as follows: “The most useful starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate. This calculation provides an objective basis on which to make an initial estimate of the value of a lawyer’s services.” 461 U.S. at 434. The product of these two variables is known as the “lodestar, ” and “the party seeking the fee award bears the burden of proving the reasonableness of the hours worked and the hourly rates claimed.” Spegon v. Catholic Bishop of Chi., 175 F.3d 544, 550 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433). Even where the moving party has provided some documentation for his claims, courts may exercise discretion in setting ...