United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S PETITION FOR COSTS AND FEES
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
7, 2018, we remanded this case to Jackson Superior Court,
Jackson County, Indiana, for lack of jurisdiction and
untimely removal. Dkt. 19. Because Defendant's removal
lacked an objectively reasonable legal basis, we ordered
Defendant to pay Plaintiff's costs and fees incurred as a
result. Id. Now before the Court are Plaintiff's
itemized petition, Dkt. 22, and Defendant's response to
it. Dkt. 24.
order remanding [a] case may require payment of just costs
and any actual expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as
a result of the removal.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
“Under the American Rule parties bear their expenses in
one court system, ‘but when their adversary wrongfully
drags them into a second judicial system the loser must
expect to cover the incremental costs.'”
Wisconsin v. Hotline Indus., Inc., 236 F.3d 363,
367-68 (7th Cir. 2000) (quoting Garbie v. DaimlerChrysler
Corp., 211 F.3d 407, 411 (7th Cir. 2000)). While Section
1447(c) is “unusual among fee-shifting statutes”
in permitting recovery of “actual, ” as opposed
to “reasonable, ” fees, id. at 366-67,
“nothing in the Seventh Circuit's ruling in
Hotline Industries suggests that courts are
compelled to award unreasonable fees.” Speece v.
Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., No. 1:10-cv-1595, 2011 WL
5827194, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Nov. 17, 2011) (Barker, J) (citing
Huffman v. Saul Holdings, 262 F.3d 1128, 1135 (10th
Cir. 2001)). See, e.g., Shelter Ins. Co. v. Lighting
& Supplies, Inc., 1:12-cv-01007, 2012 WL 5505778
(S.D. Ind. Nov. 13, 2012) (McKinney, J.) (striking
unreasonable requests from successful § 1447(c)
movant's fee petition).
Plaintiff requests $19, 712 in fees, representing 53.7 hours
of attorney time split among four partners and one associate,
whose hourly rates were $410 for three of the partners, $350
for the fourth, and $250 for the associate. There is also 0.6
hours of paralegal time billed at $175 per hour. Plaintiff
further requests $259.61 in legal research costs, for a total
requested award of $19, 971.61.
raises general objections to the overall fee request
characterizing it as “excessive and
inappropriate” for “a single trial brief”
on “general and well known law, ” and arguing
that “several entries” on Plaintiff's
itemized petition appear to be superfluous. Dkt. 24, at 1.
Specifically, Defendant objects to all entries by the fourth
partner and the associate as duplicative, and to one entry by
the lead partner of 3.0 hours for the preparation of a
proposed order as “unnecessary” and “not
required by rule.” Id. at 2. Sustaining
Defendant's specific objections in their entirety
produces a figure of $12, 692 for 30.7 hours of partner time
at $410 per hour and 0.6 hours of paralegal time at $175 per
this figure as still unreasonably high, far out of line with
fee awards in similar cases in this district and division. We
shall strike 3.9 of the 4.9 partner hours expended following
Plaintiff's receipt of Defendant's opposition to its
motion to remand. That time related to a task that
“would have been performed regardless of whether the
case was in state or federal court[, ]”
Speece, 2011 WL 5827194, at *1, to wit, evaluating
whether to answer Defendant's counterclaims; and on
evaluating whether to file a reply to Defendant's
opposition. But the reply never came, and in any event the
right to file one was likely waived by Plaintiff's motion
requesting that the Court rule on its motion to remand by the
next court day after Defendant's opposition was due.
See Dkts. 13, 17.
shall also strike as unreasonable the 0.5 hours of the lead
partner's time spent preparing (surely not de
novo) Plaintiff's three-sentence corporate
disclosure statement required by Rule 7.1, Fed.R.Civ.P.
See Dkt. 8.
leaves 26.3 hours for three partners with at least sixty-one
years of lawyering experience among them to research and
draft one two-page motion to remand and one twenty-four-page
brief in support. That is clearly excessive relative to the
comparatively modest degree of difficulty and complexity of
the factual and legal issues at bar. At least half of those
hours ought reasonably to have been billed at the
associate's rate, 13.2 hours at $250 per hour and 13.1
hours at $410 per hour-still a liberal ratio.
does not challenge Plaintiff's counsels' hourly
rates, and we find them reasonable for lawyers of similar
experience in Indianapolis. Nor does Defendant challenge the
paralegal's time or rate, nor Plaintiff's legal
research costs. We accept these figures as given.
reasons explained above:
is ORDERED to pay to Plaintiff the sum of $9, 035.61,
representing $8, 776 in ...