Vietnam Veterans of America et al v. Central Intelligence Agency et al

Filing 623

ORDER by Judge Claudia Wilken granting 603 Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees. (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/4/2018)

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1 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 5 VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA, et al., Case No. 09-cv-00037-CW Plaintiffs, ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES 6 v. 7 8 9 United States District Court Northern District of California (Dkt. Nos. 603 & 615) CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, et al., Defendants. 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Pursuant to the stipulation regarding Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Expenses and service awards, the Court orders the parties to comply with the stipulation and to that extent grants Plaintiffs' motion. The Court finds Plaintiffs’ attorneys' stipulated fees to be reasonable. The hours claimed are well-supported and the rates are those allowed under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). 603-2. See generally, Docket No. Plaintiffs’ Bill of Costs is sufficiently itemized and the costs they are seeking are statutorily permitted under 28 U.S.C. § 1920 or the EAJA. Docket No. 604. The Court further finds Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees to be reasonable because they were substantially discounted from the original total amount of $20 million down to $4.5 million using the statutory EAJA rates and discounting hours. This amount was further reduced to the stipulated amount of $3.4 million. This was a class action. Pursuant to Rule 23(b)(2)(A), “the court may direct appropriate notice to the class” of attorneys’ 1 fees requests for Rule 23(b)(2) classes. 2 Plaintiffs’ counsels’ posting of the motion papers on the class 3 website, see Docket 616-1, Declaration of James Bennett, ¶ 5, was 4 sufficient notice for purposes of Rules 23(h) & 23(b)(2)(A). 5 The Court finds that “A class member . . . may object to the motion” for attorneys’ fees. 7 Djina Meirow (on behalf of decedent Larry Meirow), and Frank 8 Rochelle have sent letters expressing various opinions. 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 6 Docket Nos. 619, 620 & 621. 10 11 Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(h). Plaintiffs Bruce Price, See However, these letters do not appear to object to the attorneys’ fees and costs. Service awards to class representatives compensate them for 12 the work they have done for the class, for the financial or 13 reputational risk they have undertaken in bringing the action, 14 and for their willingness to act as a private attorney general. 15 In re Mego Financial Corp. Securities Litig., 213 F.3d 454, 463 16 (9th Cir. 2000); Rodriguez v. West Publishing Corp., 563 F.3d 17 948, 958–959 (9th Cir. 2009). 18 evaluated using the following five factors: (1) the risk to the 19 class representative in commencing a class action, both financial 20 and otherwise; (2) the notoriety and personal difficulties 21 encountered by the class representative; (3) the amount of time 22 and effort spent by the class representative; (4) the duration of 23 the litigation; and (5) the personal benefit, or lack thereof, 24 enjoyed by the class representative as a result of the 25 litigation. 26 294, 299 (N.D. Cal. 1995). 27 28 Requests for service awards may be Van Vranken v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 901 F. Supp. Plaintiffs have sought a total of $160,000 total in service awards, or $20,000 per named Plaintiff for their work in this 2 litigation. 2 $10,000 or $25,000 to be “quite high” and outside the $5,000 3 amount presumed to be reasonable. 4 Corp., No. C-08-5198 EMC, 2012 WL 381202, at * 7 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 5 22, 2014) (summarizing authority). 6 circumstances here warrant this amount. 7 lengthy duration of this litigation spanning almost a decade, 8 Plaintiffs’ participation in discovery and hearings, along with 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 their participation with the media, and because their service Some courts in this district have found payments of Harris v. Vector Marketing However, the Court finds the Specifically, given the 10 awards will not prejudice the other class members and is 11 unopposed by Defendant, the Court finds $20,000 per named 12 Plaintiff to be reasonable and proper here. 13 Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, 14-md-2541-CW, 2017 WL 6040065, at *11 14 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 6, 2017) (approving award of $20,000); see id. at 15 *11, n.69 (summarizing cases with service awards ranging from 16 $20,000 up to $120,000 in instances of a $415 million dollar 17 settlement fund). 18 the service awards be higher or that they be tax-free. 19 above, the service awards are higher than what is presumptively 20 reasonable in this District and a higher amount will not be 21 ordered. 22 the jurisdiction of the Court. See In re: Nat’l Plaintiffs' letters to the Court request that As noted The request for a change in tax treatment is not within 23 Plaintiffs' letters also request a formal apology and 24 express concerns over whether Defendants will abide by the 25 injunction. 26 attorneys’ fees and costs and service awards. 27 apology is likewise not within the jurisdiction of the Court. 28 Defendants do not abide by the injunctions, class counsel will These are not valid objections to the motion for 3 Ordering an If 1 bring that to the Court’s attention. 2 that this payment of fees would not constitute an “admission of 3 liability or fault” to the issues litigated here, Docket 615 at 4 2-3, is misplaced. 5 findings and has “no impact on the injunctions, judgment, and 6 relief ordered by the Court” provided to Plaintiffs here. 7 2. 8 Lastly, Plaintiffs’ concern This provision is unrelated to the Court’s Id. at IT IS SO ORDERED. United States District Court Northern District of California 9 10 Dated: October 4, 2018 CLAUDIA WILKEN United States District Judge 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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