McIntosh v. Maricopa County Community College District et al

Filing 90

ORDER denying 76 Motion for Attorney Fees. Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 9/3/2009.(NVO)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 WO IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA ) ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) ) Maricopa Community College District, ) ) et al., ) ) Defendant. ) ) Dwayne E. McIntosh, a single man, No. CV-07-0760-PHX-DGC ORDER Defendants have filed a motion for attorneys' fees and costs. Dkt. ## 76, 85. Plaintiff has responded and Defendants have replied. Dkt. ## 88, 89. The Court will deny the motion. Defendants seek to recover attorneys' fees from Plaintiff under 42 U.S.C. 2000e5(k) and 42 U.S.C. 1988. Defendants agree that both statutes are governed by the same standard. Dkt. #85 at 8-9 (citing Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 14 (1980)). The Ninth Circuit has held that fees may be awarded to a defendant under 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(k) only in "exceptional cases." Mitchell v. Office of the Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools, 805 F.2d 844, 848 (9th Cir. 1986). Fees are appropriate only when a plaintiff's case has "`no legal or factual basis.'" Id. at 847 (quoting Christianburg Garment Co. v. EEOC, 434 U.S. 412, 420 (1978)) (emphasis in original). A district court has discretion to award attorneys' fees where the plaintiff's action was "frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation, even though not brought in subjective bad faith." Christiansburg Garment Co., 434 U.S. at 421. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 "[A] district court must resist the `understandable temptation to engage in post hoc reasoning' once a plaintiff has unsuccessfully pursued a claim." Id. (quoting Christianburg Garment Co., 434 U.S. at 421-22). Defendants seek $111,284.16 in attorneys' fees and costs. Dkt. #85 at 2. In the alternative, Defendants seek $26,573.28 incurred after the Court entered its initial order denying Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Id. Defendants argue that Plaintiff's retaliation claims were frivolous because they were dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and failure to plead facts in support of his claims. Id. at 3, 6. Defendants also contend that Plaintiff's race discrimination claims were frivolous because Plaintiff rejected Defendants' settlement offer of $6,000 and the claims eventually were dismissed on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Id. at 8. This is not an exceptional case. The Court does not find that Plaintiff's claims were frivolous, meritless, or vexatious. See Christiansburg Garment Co., 434 U.S. at 421. Nor does the Court find that Plaintiff's claims had no legal or factual basis. See Mitchell, 805 F.2d at 848. Plaintiff established a prima facie case of race discrimination. In addition, routinely awarding attorney's fees to a prevailing defendant would defeat the goal of zealous enforcement of Title VII, discourage suits in all but the clearest cases, and inhibit advocacy on undecided issues." Kutska v. Cal. State College, 564 F.2d 108, 110 (3d Cir. 1977).1 IT IS ORDERED that Defendants' motion for attorneys' fees (Dkt. #76) is denied. DATED this 3rd day of September, 2009. Defendants also assert that Plaintiff's attorney should be held jointly responsible for attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1927. Dkt. #85 at 9. The Court need not address this issue as Defendants' motion is being denied. -2- 1

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