United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
FATIMA H. SHABAZ, Plaintiff,
SENIOR CARE INSURANCE SERVICES, INC., d/b/a SENIOR CARE INSURANCE SERVICES, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the parties' briefs
regarding attorney fees stemming from Defendant's
successful motion to compel. On June 20, 2017, the Court
issued an Order granting Defendant's Motion to Compel and
ordering Plaintiff to file a response to Defendant's
request for $500 in attorney's fees incurred in filing
the motion to compel. Plaintiff filed a response objecting to
the request on June 30, 2017, and on July 5, 2017, Defendant
filed a reply increasing the requested amount to $1, 284.00.
37(a)(5)(A) provides that, if a motion to compel is granted,
the Court “must, after giving the opportunity to be
heard, require the party or deponent whose conduct
necessitated the motion, the party or attorney advising that
conduct, or both to pay the movant's reasonable expenses
incurred in making the motion, including attorney's
fees” unless “the movant filed the motion before
attempting in good faith to obtain” the requested
discovery, “the opposing party's nondisclosure . .
. was substantially justified; or . . . other circumstances
make an award of expenses unjust.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(a)(5)(A). District courts possess wide latitude in
evaluating the reasonableness of requested attorney fees and
costs. Johnson v. Kakvand, 192 F.3d 656, 661 (7th
Motion to Compel was granted, so it is up to Plaintiff to
demonstrate that her nondisclosure was substantially
justified or other circumstances make an award of
attorneys' fees unjust. Counsel for Plaintiff argues that
he has now provided the requested information to Defendant
and that the delay was “[d]ue to conflicts with other
time demands.” At no time did Plaintiff request an
extension of time from the Court, nor did she respond to the
Motion to Compel. She has failed to show that Defendant did
not attempt in good faith to obtain responses to its
discovery requests before filing the Motion to Compel or that
her nondisclosure was substantially justified.
the Court turns to the appropriate amount of damages. As the
Supreme Court has explained, “the most useful starting
point for court determination of the amount of a reasonable
fee payable by the loser is the number of hours reasonably
expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate, ” known as the “lodestar.”
Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 801-02, 122
(2002) (quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424,
433 (1983)) (quotation and other marks omitted).
Defendant's initial request was for $500, without
specifying in the Motion to Compel how it came to that
amount. Plaintiff argues that is too high, and that the
appropriate cost of making the motion would be a single
billable hour at a rate of $150 to $250. In its briefing on
the issue of fees, Defendant explains that its counsel spent
5.35 hours in correspondence with and other attempts to
obtain the outstanding discovery from Plaintiff, as well as
the time spent drafting the actual motion, at a rate of $240
per hour, and increase the request to $1, 284.00.
Court finds that $240 per hour is reasonable and in line with
prevailing market rates. The $500 initially requested
represents 2.08 attorney hours. Counsel for Defendant
represents that she spent 3.4 hours attempting to obtain the
requested discovery once it was overdue prior to filing the
motion to compel with the Court and another hour drafting the
motion. Counsel also represents that she spent an additional
.95 hours reviewing the Court's Order and preparing the
brief in support of the fee request. There is no explanation
as to why Defendant did not initially seek attorney's
fees reflecting the full 4.4 hours counsel spent attempting
to obtain the outstanding discovery and drafting the Motion
to Compel, so the Court will award the 2.08 hours initially
requested as well as the .95 hours expended since the Motion
was filed, for a total of $727.20 reflecting 3.03 attorney
hours at $240 per hour.
foregoing reasons, the Court hereby approves and
GRANTS in part Defendant's request for
attorney fees contained within the Motion of Defendant to
Compel Discovery [DE 26]. Plaintiff and/or her
attorney is ORDERED to reimburse
Defendant in the sum of $727.20 in attorney fees within
thirty days of the date of this order.
See Fed. R. Civ. P.
37(a)(5)(A) (providing that the award should be paid by
“the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the
motion, the party or attorney advising that conduct, or
both”); Francis v. AIT Labs., No.
1:07-CV-0626-RLY-JMS, 2008 WL 2561222, at *5 (S.D. Ind. June
26, 2008) (ordering the attorney to pay expenses where
“Plaintiff's counsel, rather than Plaintiff
himself, was responsible for the ...