Tackberry et al v. The County of Alameda et al

Filing 71

ORDER RE ATTORNEY'S FEES. Signed by Judge Alsup on June 17, 2010. (whalc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/17/2010)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ELIZABETH TACKABERRY and J.E.L., a minor, by and through her Guardian ad Litem, Jovita Muņoz Lopez, Plaintiffs, v. THE COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, ALAMEDA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, SHERIFF GREGORY AHERN, individually and in his official capacity, SANTA RITA JAIL, CITY of LIVERMORE, LIVERMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT, STEVE SWEENY, in his official capacity and individually, PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICES, INC, and DOES 1 to 100, inclusive, Defendants. / ORDER RE: ATTORNEYS' FEES IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA United States District Court 11 For the Northern District of California No. C 08-05762 WHA 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 The parties have reached an agreement to end this suit, to which a minor is a party. Settlement of a minor's claim can only be completed with court approval, pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 372, and the parties accordingly seek such approval from the Court. Counsel for plaintiffs have submitted attorneys' fees sought in the form of a percentage of the settlement, but have not accounted for their time spent in this proceeding. Plaintiffs' counsel seeks 25% of the settlement allotted to minor J.E.L., and 33% of the settlement allotted to Ms. Tackaberry. Before the undersigned considers approval of the parties' settlement, counsel for plaintiffs must provide a meaningful accounting of their time spent in this matter. The 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 following procedure must be used for any attorneys' fees sought. It is structured to allow for a thorough evaluation of time expended. 1. No later than JULY 17, 2010, plaintiffs' attorneys must file and serve a detailed declaration, organized by discrete projects, breaking down all attorney and paralegal time sought to be recovered. For each project, there must be a detailed description of the work, giving the date, hours expended, attorney name, and task for each work entry, in chronological order. A "project" means a deposition, a motion, a witness interview, and so forth. It does not mean generalized statements like "trial preparation" or "attended trial." It includes discrete items like "prepare supplemental trial brief on issue X." The following is an example of time collected by a project. PROJECT: ABC DEPOSITION (2 DAYS IN FRESNO) Date Timekeeper XYZ RST XYZ RST RST Description Hours x Rate = Fee United States District Court 11 For the Northern District of California 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 01-08-01 01-09-01 01-10-01 01-11-01 01-12-01 Assemble and photocopy exhibits for use in deposition. Review evidence and prepare to examine ABC at deposition. Research issue of work-product privilege asserted by deponent. Prepare for and take deposition. Prepare for and take deposition. 2.0 4.5 1.5 8.5 7.0 23.5 $100 $200 $100 $200 $200 $200 $900 $150 $1700 $1400 $4350 Project Total: 2. All entries for a given project must be presented chronologically one after the other, i.e., uninterrupted by other projects, so that the timeline for each project can be readily grasped. Entries can be rounded to the nearest quarter-hour and should be net of write-down for inefficiency or other cause. Please show the sub-totals for hours and fees per project, as in the example above, and show grand totals for all projects combined at the end. Include only entries for which compensation is sought, i.e., after application of "billing judgment." For each project, the declaration must further state, in percentage terms, the proportion of the project directed at issues for which fees are awardable and must justify the percentage. This percentage 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 should then be applied against the project total to isolate the recoverable portion (a step not shown in the example above). 3. A separate summary chart of total time and fees sought per individual timekeeper (not broken down by project) should also be shown at the end of the declaration. This cross-tabulation will help illuminate all timekeepers' respective workloads and roles in the overall case. 4. The declaration must also set forth (a) the qualifications, experience and role of each attorney or paralegal for whom fees are sought; (b) the normal rate ordinarily charged for each in the relevant time period; (c) how the rates were comparable to prevailing rates in the community for like-skilled professionals; and (d) proof that "billing judgment" was exercised. On the latter point, as before, the declaration should describe adjustments made to eliminate duplication, excess, associate-turnover expense, and so forth. These adjustments need not be itemized but totals for the amount deleted per timekeeper should be stated. The declaration must identify the records used to compile the entries and, specifically, state whether and the extent to which the records were contemporaneous versus retroactively prepared. It must state the extent to which any entries include estimates (and what any estimates were based on). Estimates and/or use of retroactively-made records may or may not be allowed, depending on the facts and circumstances. 5. Ordinarily, no more than one attorney and one paralegal need be present at a United States District Court 11 For the Northern District of California 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 deposition; more will normally be deemed excessive. Ordinarily, no more than one attorney need attend a law-and-motion hearing; more will normally be deemed excessive. To allow for symmetry, however, the award will take into account the staffing used by the opposing party. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 17, 2010. WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 3

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