United States District Court, D. Arizona
A. TEILTRARG SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is the Pinal County Defendants'
(“Defendants”) Motion for Attorneys' Fees
(Doc. 264). Defendants filed the pending Motion for
Attorneys' Fees (Doc. 264), in accordance with this
Court's Order (Doc. 257) granting Defendants' earlier
Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 244). Plaintiff Cristobal
Hernandez, Jr. (“Plaintiff”) filed a Response to
Defendants' Motion for Attorneys' Fees (Doc. 265), to
which Defendants filed a Reply (Doc. 266).
also filed an improper Sur-reply (Doc. 267) in direct
violation of this Court's previous Order (Doc. 257). The
Order (Doc. 257) made clear that “Plaintiff may
respond-once, in accordance with District of Arizona Local
Rule Civil 7.2” to Defendants' application for
attorneys' fees. (Doc. 257 at 12). Plaintiff violated the
Order (Doc. 257) by filing the Sur-reply (Doc. 267) after
filing his one, authorized Response (Doc. 265). Accordingly, the
Court strikes Plaintiff's improper Sur-reply (Doc. 267).
Court previously discussed the factual and procedural
background of this case at length, and need not repeat it
here. (See Doc. 222). The Court now rules on the
justifies sanctions “when a filing is frivolous,
legally unreasonable, or without factual foundation, or is
brought for an improper purpose.” Estate of Blue v.
County of L.A., 120 F.3d 982, 985 (9th Cir. 1997). A
“frivolous” filing is one that is “both
baseless and made without a reasonable and competent
inquiry.” Townsend v. Holman Consulting Corp.,
929 F.2d 1359, 1362 (9th Cir. 1990).
court authorizes sanctions in accordance with Rule 11, the
prevailing party must submit an application for
attorneys' fees. LRCiv 54.2. The authorizing court must
examine the content of this application and determine, among
other things, whether the requested fees are reasonable.
Id. Under Rule 11, the sanctions awarded
“should never exceed those expenses and fees that were
reasonably necessary to resist the offending action.”
In re Yagman, 796 F.2d 1165, 1185 (9th Cir. 1986).
In general, reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in
litigating an action should be calculated according to the
“lodestar” method. Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). This figure is determined by
multiplying “the number of hours reasonably expended on
the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.”
Id. The application for fees should include evidence
supporting the number of hours worked and the rates requested
for the work. Id. at 434. In determining the number
of hours reasonably expended, the court has discretion to
exclude hours which are “excessive, redundant, or
otherwise unnecessary.” Id.
MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES
Court authorized sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 after
determining that Plaintiff was responsible for
“frivolous, legally unreasonable filings” and
declaring Plaintiff a vexatious litigant. (Doc. 257 at 6,
11). The Court now analyzes whether the fees requested by
Defendants are reasonable, in light of the offending actions.
Number of Hours
do not seek fees associated with all of Plaintiff's
frivolous filings, but instead only request fees for
responding to filings which “clearly warranted a
response, ” in addition to Defendant's Vexatious
Litigant Motion (Doc. 245) and the associated Motion for
Sanctions (Doc. 244). (Doc. 264 at 4). Counsel for Defendants
did not respond to a number of Plaintiff's additional
frivolous filings, instead “trust[ing] the Court would
conclude on its own that the remaining filings were
seek compensation for a total of 14.1 hours of billed time
for associate Jennifer B. Anderson, and a total of 0.3 hours
of billed time for partner Georgia A. Staton. (Id.
at 17). As avowed by Defendants, Ms. Staton's hours were
related to reviewing this Court's Order (Doc. 257)
granting attorneys' fees and declaring Plaintiff a
vexatious litigant. (Id. at 19). Ms. Anderson's
hours were spent reviewing, analyzing, and responding to
Plaintiff's filings. (Id. at 17-19). The
relevant filings include, among others: Doc. 223
(“Request Order to Remove Judge Teilborg, and Move
Proceedings to Tucson, AZ”); Doc. 224
(“Submission of Evidence Document in 220”); Doc.
225 (“Rule 60(b)(2)(6) Motion”); Doc. 230
(“Leave to File Reply” and “Reply to 226,
227, 228, and 229”); Doc. 231 (“Request for Leave
to File Declaration: Theft of Personal Property, Criminal
Misconduct”); and Doc. 231-1 “Declaration: Theft
of Personal Property, Criminal Misconduct by State
Prosecutors”). (Doc. 264 at 14, 17-19). This Court
ruled that these-and many other-filings by Plaintiff were
frivolous and duplicative. (Doc. 257, n.4-7).
in his Response (Doc. 265), does not specifically contest or
otherwise oppose any of the hours submitted by Defendants.
(See generally Doc. 265). Moreover, Plaintiff does
not argue that any hours submitted in Defendants' fee
application are excessive or duplicative. (Id.).
Accordingly, the Court finds that the number of hours
submitted by Defendants is reasonable in light of the
numerosity and complexity of issues to which Defendants were
forced to respond. The Court also observes that Defendants
efficiently allocated their time by responding only to
filings by Plaintiff which warranted a response, and did not
unreasonably inflate hours in responding to unmeritorious
claims. The Court finds that the hours submitted by
Defendants are in no way excessive, redundant, or
the Court will award fees for 0.3 hours of Ms. Staton's
time, and ...