Carpenters Pension Trust Fund for Northern California et al v. Lindquist

Filing 60

ORDER by Judge Samuel Conti granting 50 Motion for Attorney Fees (sclc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/29/2011) (Additional attachment(s) added on 9/29/2011: # 1 proof of service) (tdm, COURT STAFF).

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2 3 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 4 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 5 6 CARPENTERS PENSION TRUST FUND FOR NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, et al. 7 Plaintiffs, 8 v. 9 10 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 1 MARK ALAN LINDQUIST, 11 Defendant. 12 13 ) Case No. 10-3386 SC ) ) ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' ) MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) 14 15 I. INTRODUCTION Before the court is a Motion for Attorney's Fees filed by 16 17 Plaintiffs Board of Trustees of the Carpenters Pension Trust 18 Fund for Northern California, et al. ("Plaintiffs"), against 19 Defendant Mark Alan Lindquist ("Defendant"). 20 ("Mot."). ECF No. 50 Defendant did not file an Opposition. 21 22 23 II. BACKGROUND This action arises from Plaintiffs' efforts to recover 24 withdrawal liability from Defendant under the Employee 25 Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"). 26 Court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. 27 Court held that, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1451(b), Plaintiffs 28 were entitled to $954,508.00 in unpaid principal withdrawal On July 19, 2011, the The liability, $95,450.80 in liquidated damages, applicable interest 2 in an amount to be determined, and attorney's fees and costs. 3 Id. at 17. 4 motion for attorneys' fees and costs. 5 Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion requesting attorney's fees 6 in the amount of $51,825.00 and costs in the amount of $515.58. 7 Mot. at 2. 8 summary judgment against him. 9 The Court granted Plaintiffs thirty days to file a Id. On August 11, 2011, On August 12, 2011, Defendant appealed the grant of ECF No. 52 ("Not. of Appeal."). For the following reasons, the Court finds these amounts to 10 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 1 be reasonable and GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion. The Court STAYS 11 this Order until Defendant's appeal is resolved. 12 13 14 III. LEGAL STANDARD Under ERISA, the award of reasonable attorney's fees and 15 costs to a pension plan is mandatory in all actions to collect 16 unpaid employer withdrawal liabilities. 17 Board of Trustees, W. Conf. Teamsters Pension Trust Fund, 777 18 F.2d 1371, 1373-75 (9th Cir. 1985). 19 attorney's fees in such an action, district courts utilize a 20 two-step "hybrid lodestar/multiplier" approach. 21 Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 942, 945 (9th Cir. 2007). 22 First, the court establishes a lodestar by multiplying the 23 number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by a 24 reasonable hourly rate. 25 rate, the court should consider "the experience, skill, and 26 reputation of the attorney requesting fees." 27 party seeking fees bears the burden of documenting the hours 28 expended in the litigation and must submit evidence supporting Id. Lads Trucking Co. v. To calculate reasonable Welch v. In determining a reasonable hourly 2 Id. at 946. The those hours and the rates claimed. 2 exceptional cases," the district court may adjust the lodestar 3 upward or downward using a multiplier based on facts not 4 Second, in "rare and subsumed in the initial lodestar calculation. Id. 5 6 IV. DISCUSSION 7 Plaintiffs' counsel have submitted detailed billing records 8 demonstrating that they spent 222.8 hours litigating the instant 9 case. ECF Nos. 50-1 ("McDonough Decl."), 50-2 ("Billing 10 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 1 Records"). 11 attending case management conferences, conferring with 12 Defendant, propounding requests for admissions and requests for 13 production of documents, taking Defendant's deposition, 14 preparing the motion for summary judgment, and preparing the 15 instant Motion. 16 Plaintiffs have provided an itemized accounting of the number of 17 hours spent on each task. 18 have been reasonably expended on this litigation. 19 These hours comprise time spent preparing pleadings, McDonough Decl. ¶ 8; Billing Records. Id. The Court finds the hours to Plaintiffs' counsel charged an hourly rate of between $225 20 and $275 for attorney time and $115 for paralegal time. 21 McDonough Decl. ¶¶ 4, 9. 22 charged for this litigation are consistent with prevailing 23 market rates for litigation involving union-sponsored benefit 24 funds. 25 plan's attorney regarding the prevailing fees in the community. 26 United Steelworkers v. Retirement Income Plan for Hourly-Rated 27 Employees of Asarco, Inc., 512 F.3d 555, 565 (9th Cir. 2008). 28 The rates charged are also in accord with rates approved in Id. ¶ 6. Counsel attest that the hourly fees A court can rely on the declaration of the 3 comparable cases in this district. 2 of the Boilermaker Vacation Trust v. Skelly, Inc., 389 F.Supp.2d 3 1222, 1227-1228 (N.D. Cal. 2005) (finding attorney rates of $210 4 per hour and $345 per hour to be reasonable in an ERISA action 5 seeking payment of delinquent contributions). 6 Court finds Plaintiffs' counsel's hourly rates to be reasonable. 7 The Court finds no rare or exceptional circumstances that 8 warrant adjusting the fee award in this case upward or downward. 9 Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs are entitled to 10 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 1 See, e.g., Bd. of Trustees Therefore, the recover a lodestar amount of $51,825.00. 11 Plaintiffs have also submitted billing records showing that 12 they incurred $515.58 in costs of delivering pleadings and other 13 documents to this Court. 14 Records. 15 costs as part of their reasonable attorney's fees. 16 the Construction Industry and Laborers Health and Welfare Trust 17 v. Redland Ins. Co., 460 F.3d 1253, 1257 (9th Cir. 2006). 18 Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs are entitled to 19 recover a total sum of $52,340.58. 20 /// 21 /// 22 /// 23 /// 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// McDonough Decl. at ¶ 12; Billing Plaintiffs are entitled to recover these delivery 4 Trustees of 2 V. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS the Motion for 3 Attorney's Fees filed by Plaintiffs Board of Trustees of the 4 Carpenters Pension Trust Fund for Northern California, et al. 5 against Defendant Mark Alan Lindquist in the amount of 6 $52,340.58. 7 rules on Defendant's appeal and returns the case to this Court's 8 jurisdiction. This Order is hereby STAYED until the Ninth Circuit 9 10 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 1 IT IS SO ORDERED. 11 12 Dated: September 29, 2011 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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