United States District Court, D. Arizona
A. TEILBORG SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiff Barry Lynn Moon's
(“Moon”) motion for attorneys' fees. (Doc.
37). Defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company, S.I.
(“American Family”) has responded, (Doc. 39), and
Moon has replied, (Doc. 40).
In January of 2018, Moon, an insured, brought breach of
contract and bad faith claims against American Family, his
insurer, in Maricopa County Superior Court. (Doc. 1-1 at
1-7). Moon claims that American Family is obligated to pay
the $55, 785.22 he incurred defending, and ultimately
settling, a negligence claim, as well as costs and
attorneys' fees incurred in compelling American Family to
comply with his insurance policy. (Doc. 1-1 at 5-7).
In February of 2018, American Family removed the case to this
Court. (Doc. 1).
(Doc. 34 at 1-2).
sought to remand the case, (Doc. 18), and the Court granted
the motion, finding that it lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction, (Doc. 34). Moon now seeks attorneys' fees
in the amount of $16, 733.03 for 58.38 hours of work performed
after removal. (Doc. 37).
federal court remands a removed case to state court, it
“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). “Absent
unusual circumstances, courts may award attorney's fees
under § 1447(c) only where the removing party lacked an
objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal.”
Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp., 546 U.S. 132, 141
(2005). “[A] legal argument that loses is not
necessarily unreasonable.” Shame on You Prods.,
Inc. v. Banks, No. 16-55024, No. 16-56311, 2018 WL
3059389, at *3 (9th Cir. June 21, 2018) (citation omitted).
are awarded, the Court uses the two-step lodestar method for
setting the fee amount. Albion Pac. Prop. Res., LLC v.
Seligman, 329 F.Supp.2d 1163, 1166 (N.D. Cal. 2004). In
the first step, “[t]he ‘lodestar' is
calculated by multiplying the number of hours the prevailing
party reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable
hourly rate.” Morales v. City of San Rafael,
96 F.3d 359, 363 (9th Cir. 1996). “In determining the
appropriate number of hours to be included in a lodestar
calculation, the district court should exclude hours
‘that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise
unnecessary.'” McCown v. City of Fontana,
565 F.3d 1097, 1102 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983)).
burden is on the fee applicant to produce satisfactory
evidence-in addition to the attorney's own
affidavits-that the requested rates are in line with those
prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers
of reasonably comparable skill, experience and
reputation.” Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886,
895 n.11 (1984). “The party opposing the fee
application has a burden of rebuttal that requires submission
of evidence to the district court challenging the accuracy
and reasonableness of the hours charged or the facts asserted
by the prevailing party in its submitted affidavits.”
Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1397-98 (9th
Cir. 1992) (citing Blum, 465 U.S. at 892 n.5).
second step, the Court “then assesses whether it is
necessary to adjust the presumptively reasonable lodestar
figure on the basis of” the factors provided for in
Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70
(9th Cir. 1975), abrogated on other grounds as recognized
in Stetson v. Grissom, 821 F.3d 1157, 1167 (9th Cir.
2016). Morales, 96 F.3d at 363-64. There is
“[a] strong presumption that the lodestar figure . . .
represents a ‘reasonable' fee, ” which is
only modified in “rare” and
“exceptional” cases. Pennsylvania v. Del.
Valley Citizens' Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S.
546, 565 (1986).
Family levels three challenges against Moon's request for
attorneys' fees: (1) the Court does not have the power to
award fees; (2) American Family had an objectively reasonable
basis for removal; and (3) Moon's requested fees are