United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Petition for
Costs and Fees Incurred in the Making of It's (sic)
Motion to Compel [DE 47], filed January 9, 2019. On December
20, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to Compel
and set a briefing schedule for the attorney's fees
incurred in filing the motion. The instant Motion requests
fees and costs in the amount of $4, 502.50. Defendant filed a
response objecting to the fees on January 16, 2019, and on
January 30, 2019, Plaintiff filed a reply.
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 Cir.
Motion to Compel was granted, so it is up to Defendant to
demonstrate that its nondisclosure was substantially
justified or other circumstances make an award of attorney
fees unjust. Defendant argues that its objections to the
requested discovery were reasonable because it had filed a
motion for summary judgment and considered the information
requested to be outside the scope of that motion, and because
prior testimony indicated that the discovery requests were
unlikely to reveal admissible information. Plaintiff argues
that his requests were reasonably targeted to lead to
admissible information, which is the conclusion the Court
reached in its Opinion and Order. The filing of a motion for
summary judgment does not necessarily cut off discovery, and
Plaintiff explicitly laid out his need for this discovery in
order to file a complete response to the motion for summary
judgment. The Court concludes that Defendant's
nondisclosure was not substantially justified, and Defendant
has not identified any circumstances that would make the
award of expenses unjust.
also disputes the amount of the costs and fees requested by
Plaintiff. 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 (2002) (quoting Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)) (quotation and
other marks omitted).
requests payment of 6 attorney hours at $275 per hour, 5.5
paralegal hours at $100 per hour, and 30.7 law clerk hours at
$75 per hour, for a total of $4, 502.50. Defendant does not
dispute the rates charged in this case, other than to point
out a discrepancy between a stated rate of $225 per attorney
hour in the text of the brief and a rate of $275 per hour
reflected in the itemization, which Plaintiff explains was a
clerical error. The Court accepts this explanation and finds
that Plaintiff has demonstrated that an hourly rate of $275
for an attorney is reasonable.
argues that some of the work described in the itemization
would have had to be done even apart from the motion to
compel, such as reviewing deposition transcripts and
reviewing discovery requests, and therefore is not
compensable. However, drafting of the motion to compel
necessarily required counsel to review discovery that had
been provided and what was still needed, including
indications from previous documents and depositions of what
missing information should be sought. Accordingly, the Court
will permit recovery for the discovery review as described in
the itemization. Defendant argues that Plaintiff should not
be reimbursed for work related to preparing the petition of
costs. Since those fees were expended as a result of and in
relation to the successful motion to compel, they are also
also objects to reimbursement for clerical tasks related to
the filing of the briefs, like scanning and saving exhibits.
Clerical or secretarial tasks such as “organizing file
folders, document preparation, and copying documents”
should not be billed to a paralegal. Spegon v. Catholic
Bishop of Chicago, 175 F.3d 544, 553 (7th Cir. 1999)
(“The relevant inquiry for requested paralegal fees is
“whether the work was sufficiently complex to justify
the efforts of a paralegal, as opposed to an employee at the
next rung lower on the pay-scale ladder.”')
(quoting People Who Care v. Rockford Bd. of Educ., Sch.
Dist. No. 205, 90 F.3d 1307, 1315 (7th Cir.1996)).
Accordingly, it decreases the number of hours billed to the
paralegal by 2.5 hours, a decrease of $250, reflecting the
secretarial nature of the entirety of the time entry on
December 17 and a portion of that itemized on November 27.
foregoing reasons, the Court hereby approves and
GRANTS in part the Plaintiff's Petition
for Costs and Fees Incurred in the Making of It's (sic)
Motion to Compel [DE 47], and ORDERS
Defendant to reimburse ...