United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. CAMPBELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
have filed a motion for attorneys' fees and non-taxable
expenses. Doc. 708. The motion is fully and extensively
briefed, and no party has requested oral argument. The Court
will grant the motion in part.
requesting an award of attorneys' fees and non-taxable
expenses must show that it is (a) eligible for an award, (b)
entitled to an award, and (c) requesting a reasonable amount
of fees. See LRCiv 54.2(c). Under the general
fee-shifting provision for federal civil rights cases,
“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). “[A]
court's discretion to deny fees under § 1988 is very
narrow and . . . fee awards should be the rule rather than
the exception.” Herrington v. Cty. of Sonoma,
883 F.2d 739, 743 (9th Cir. 1989) (internal quotation marks
do not dispute that Plaintiffs are prevailing parties in this
case, but they contend that the hourly rates sought by
Plaintiffs' attorneys are in some cases too high, the
amount of time for which Plaintiffs seek compensation should
be reduced, and the overall fee award should be reduced
because Plaintiffs did not succeed on all of their claims.
Plaintiffs provide a number of declarations in support of
their fee request (Docs. 708-1 to 708-15), and Defendants
provide an extensive and detailed declaration by attorney
William Klain (Doc. 715-1).
determine the reasonableness of requested attorneys'
fees, federal courts generally use the “lodestar”
method. See Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437
(1983); United States v. $186, 416.00 in U.S.
Currency, 642 F.3d 753, 755 (9th Cir. 2011). The Court
must first determine the initial lodestar figure by taking a
reasonable hourly rate and multiplying it by the number of
hours reasonably expended on the litigation.
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433. In determining whether the
hourly rate or hours expended are reasonable, the Court
should consider the Kerr factors that have been
subsumed within the initial lodestar calculation. See
Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th
Cir. 1975); Cunningham v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 879
F.2d 481, 487 (9th Cir. 1988). These factors are: “(1)
the novelty and complexity of the issues, (2) the special
skill and experience of counsel, (3) the quality of
representation, and (4) the results obtained.”
Jordan v. Multnomah Cty., 815 F.2d 1258, 1262 n.6
(9th Cir. 1987).
hourly rates are not determined by the rates actually charged
in a case, but “by the rate prevailing in the community
for similar work performed by attorneys of comparable skill,
experience, and reputation.” Schwarz v. Sec'y
of Health & Human Servs., 73 F.3d 895, 908 (9th Cir.
1995). The relevant community is generally the forum in which
the district court sits, Prison Legal News v.
Schwarzenegger, 608 F.3d 446, 454 (9th Cir. 2010), but
“rates outside the forum may be used if local counsel
was unavailable, either because they are unwilling or unable
to perform because they lack the degree of experience,
expertise, or specialization required to handle properly the
case.” Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523
F.3d 973, 979 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Barjon v.
Dalton, 132 F.3d 496, 500 (9th Cir. 1997)).
seek to recover out-of-state hourly rates for three sets of
attorneys in this case: the U.C. Irvine School of Law
Immigrant Rights Clinic (“UCI IRC”), the National
Day Laborer Organizing Network (“NDLON”), and the
law firm of Hadsell, Stormer & Renick LLP
(“HSR”). Plaintiffs seek to recover existing
hourly rates for three sets of Arizona lawyers: The ACLU
Foundation of Arizona (“ACLU-AZ”), attorney Ray
Ybarra Maldonado, and the law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP
(“QB”). Doc. 708 at 6.
argue that Plaintiffs should be limited to reasonable Arizona
rates for all lawyers because they have not shown that it was
necessary to use out-of-state counsel. Doc. 715 at 5-6. The
Court does not agree. Plaintiffs have submitted persuasive
evidence that there were insufficient local counsel with the
willingness and requisite “degree of experience,
expertise or specialization required to handle properly the
case.” Camacho, 523 F.3d at 979 (citing
Barjon, 132 F.3d at 500). Daniel Pochoda, who served
as Legal Director of the ACLU-AZ for years and is familiar
with the local legal market, attests that there is a limited
pool of civil rights attorneys who can handle a case like
this. Doc. 708-8 ¶¶ 3-5; see also
Maldonado Decl., Doc. 708-9, ¶¶ 8-9 (judging that
the only option was to look outside Arizona and noting that
some attorneys outside of Arizona were unavailable to take
the case); Garcia Decl., Doc. 95-2 ¶ 14 (explaining that
Puente had been looking for pro bono counsel to bring a
challenge since 2013). Mr. Pochoda's difficulty in
recruiting local firms as the case entered the discovery
phase supports the need to look outside the state. Doc. 708-8
¶¶ 6-7. Mr. Klain notes that there are many lawyers
in the Phoenix area who do civil rights work, but he did not
attempt to locate lawyers or firms to take on this level of
litigation against prominent county officials over an
extended period of time. Doc. 715-1 ¶¶ 16-19.
Court will award the hourly rates sought by Plaintiffs'
out-of-state counsel, with two exceptions.
the Court will cap out-of-state attorneys' fees at $750
per hour. The Court concludes that this cap is reasonable
given the fact that rates above this level represent premium
billing in large legal markets - a rate of pay not warranted
for counsel who did not take a leading role in this case.
This will reduce fees for the HSR firm by $6, 300
(see Doc. 708-13 ¶ 19: $1, 100 x 18 - $750 x 18
= $6, 300).
the Court will also reduce the hourly rate charged for U.C.
Irvine law students from the requested $200 to $125. The
Court views $125 per hour as more than reasonable for law
students who have not yet graduated from law school or passed
the bar exam. UCI IRC seeks to recover $56, 050 for law
student time. Doc. 708-6 ¶¶ 17, 25. Reducing this
amount by 37.5% (representing the ...