Ledgerwood et al v. Gillespie
JUDGMENT partly granting and partly denying 65 Motion. The Court awards $8,007.30 in costs for all the depositions and a reasonable attorney's fee of $75,780 for 378.9 hours' work. The total $83,787.30 is payable directly to Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc., on behalf of the Estate of Ethel Jacobs, Louis Welch, administrator, as authorized by the Circuit Court of Phillips County, Arkansas, probate division. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 7/11/2017. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
ESTATE OF ETHEL JACOBS,
Louis Welch, administrator
CINDY GILLESPIE, in her official
capacity as Director, Arkansas
Department of Human Services
Jacobs’s Estate’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs is long ripe, and
the Court regrets its delay in turning back to it. The parties agree on the
governing law: the Estate is entitled to a reasonable fee, based on all the
material circumstances. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433–40 (1983);
Hernandez v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, 831 F.3d 940, 948–50
(8th Cir. 2016). The $200/hour rate requested is unchallenged. It is, the Court
agrees, reasonable for the off-the-path kind of work done here by these
younger lawyers. The fighting issues are two: whether the Estate should be
reimbursed for all the depositions; and how much of the time actually spent
is chargeable to Gillespie, given the Estate’s partial victory.
The Court awards all the deposition costs incurred. Most, if not all, of
the transcripts were used at trial. The main claims—ascertainability and
notice—were intertwined. Most importantly, the Court made counsel sprint
through discovery to get this case ready for a prompt final adjudication:
about four months passed between the Court’s dissolving the stay and
entering final judgment. Both sides agreed with this expedited schedule.
Figuring out the complicated facts in a hurry made multiple depositions
The Court awards one-half of the requested fees. The Estate’s voluntary
elimination of some Ledgerwood-related work and some of the collaboration
time is commendable. As Gillespie argues, the time requested must be
discounted further to account for various circumstances. First, the hearing
claims were late breaking, marginal, and unsuccessful, although preserved for
another day. Related work merits a ten percent reduction. Second, and
notwithstanding a hard push, the Estate lost the ascertainability claim. This
was the core of the case. But the Estate prevailed on notice. Gillespie is
mistaken in arguing that the Estate accomplished little beyond what was
achieved in the administrative process. The Court required a substantial
renovation and expansion of the notice. More to the point, the notice and
ascertainability claims were so intertwined that it would be unreasonable to
cut the fee too deeply simply because the Estate didn’t win on both. A thirty
percent discount is appropriate. Last, there’s some work billed that, in
hindsight, is properly classed as unnecessary. In this category falls the motion
to reconsider, the lengthy injunction briefing at the threshold, and some of the
pre-suit work. Counsel’s effort to do their best and cover all bases is
commendable. It’s a fact of lawyering life that not everything done, though,
can be billed, and Gillespie is entitled to a ten percent reduction on this score.
All this totals the fifty percent discount.
Motion, ¹ 65, partly granted and partly denied. The Court awards
$8,007.30 in costs for all the depositions and a reasonable attorney’s fee of
$75,780 for 378.9 hours’ work. The total—$83,787.30—is payable directly to
Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc., on behalf of the Estate of Ethel Jacobs, Louis
Welch, administrator, as authorized by the Circuit Court of Phillips County,
Arkansas, probate division. ¹ 77, 78 & 79.
D.P. Marshall Jr.
United States District Judge
11 July 2017
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