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Jamgotchian v. Indiana Horse Racing Commission

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 4, 2018

JERRY JAMGOTCHIAN, et al., Plaintiffs,


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, United States District Court.

         This cause is before the Court on the Plaintiffs' motion for attorneys fees and costs (Dkt. No. 43).[1] The motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the motion to the extent and for the reasons set forth below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 31, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, naming as Defendants the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and representatives of the Commission in their official capacities. Count I asserted a claim for a declaratory judgment that the “claiming jail” rule set forth in Title 71, IAC § 6.5-1-4(i) (now Section 4(h)) violated the dormant Commerce Clause found in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, as well as the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Counts II and III asserted claims for injunctive relief under the Constitution and under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for these same violations.

         On October 21, 2016, the Plaintiffs filed their motion for summary judgment on their Commerce Clause claims. On November 18, 2016, the Defendants sought an extension of time to respond to Plaintiffs' Motion, which the Court granted. On February 1, 2017, after obtaining written discovery from the Plaintiffs, the Defendants filed a Response to the Plaintiffs' motion, and the Defendants filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. The Plaintiffs filed a reply on March 1, 2017. On March 31, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed a Response to Defendants' Cross-Motion, and the Defendants replied on April 21, 2017. The Court granted the Plaintiffs' motion and denied the Defendants' motion on September 20, 2017.

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d), Local Rule 54-1 and 42 U.S.C. § 1988, the Plaintiffs now request attorneys fees and costs of $64, 823.52 and their recoverable costs beyond those already sought in their Bill of Costs (Doc. No. 42) in the amount of $498.48.

         II. STANDARD

         The Civil Rights Attorneys Fees Awards Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. § 1988, provides, in relevant part:

In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of section 1981, 1981a, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986 of this title . . ., the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs . . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1988(b). Section 1988's “overriding goal [is] to reimburse with a reasonable attorneys' fee those who as ‘private attorneys general' take it upon themselves to invoke and thereby invigorate federal constitutional and statutory rights.” Charles v. Daley, 846 F.2d 1057, 1063 (7th Cir. 1988). An award of attorneys fees thus both “reimburses a plaintiff for ‘what it cos[t] [him] to vindicate [civil] rights, ' and holds to account ‘a violator of federal law.'” Fox v. Vice, 563 U.S. 826, 833 (2011) (citations omitted). Violations of the dormant Commerce Clause are cognizable. § 1983. Nat'l Solid Waste Mgmt. Assoc. v. Meyer, 63 F.3d 652, 662 n.11 (7th Cir. 1995) (citing Dennis v. Higgins, 498 U.S. 439, 446 (1991)).

         The calculation of an attorney's fee award involves four general steps: (1) establishment of a reasonable hourly rate; (2) tabulation of attorney hours reasonably expended on the case; (3) multiplication of these two numbers to reach a “lodestar” figure; and (4) reduction of this amount (where appropriate) to account for limited success. Pennsylvania v. Delaware Valley Citizens' Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 564-65 (1986). A fee petitioner is required to exercise billing judgment, that is, to submit sufficient fee documentation with adequate explanation in order to provide the court with a basis for evaluating the claim and to submit a request for fees that is limited to reasonable expenses and eliminates excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary time. Spegon v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 175 F.3d 544, 550-52 (7th Cir. 1999). To assist the court in fulfilling its obligation, the party seeking fees bears the burden of proving the reasonableness of the hours worked and the hourly rates claimed. Id. at 550 (citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983)).


         The Defendants admit that the Plaintiffs were the prevailing parties and are entitled to an award of reasonable attorneys fees. However, the Defendants raise several objections to the Plaintiffs' request. Each is addressed below.

         A. Entry That Includes ...

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