Palmer v. Far West Collection Services, Inc.,

Filing 190

ORDER by Judge Whyte granting 177 Motion for Attorney Fees. (rmwlc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/18/2008)

Download PDF
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 SUSANNE M. PALMER, On Behalf of Herself and Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff, v. FAR WEST COLLECTION SERVICES, INC., Defendant. No. C-04-03027 RMW ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR FEES AND COSTS [Re Docket No. 177 ] IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN JOSE DIVISION E-FILED on 12/18/08 The court approved a final settlement between the parties on August 12, 2008. Plaintiff Susanne Palmer ("Palmer") now moves for attorneys fees and costs pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 1692(k). Because attorneys fees were incorporated into the settlement class fund, defendant Far West Collection Services, Inc. ("Far West") does not oppose the instant motion. For the reasons stated below, the court grants Palmer's motion for fees. Plaintiff filed this class action lawsuit in July of 2004, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. 1692, et seq., and the California Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17200, et seq. Over the next two years the parties briefed and argued a motion to dismiss, two motions for reconsideration, and a variety of class-certification issues. On September 14, 2006, the court certified plaintiffs' class against Far West. After some dispute about class notice, and difficulties in collecting accurate class information, the parties submitted a motion for preliminary settlement approval in January of 2008. The court approved class notice and preliminarily ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE'S MAY 23, 2005 ORDER--C-04-03027 RMW MAG 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 approved the settlement on April 19, 2008. The court finally approved the class settlement on August 12, 2008. Plaintiffs filed the instant motion for fees, which defendants do not oppose, on November 7, 2008. Plaintiffs provide the following hours breakdown in their motion for fees: Attorney O. Randolph Bragg Paul Arons Ronald Wilcox Craig Shapiro Adam M. Mergenthaler James M. Smith Total Attorney Fees Total Compensable Hours 23.31 129.51 56.16 6.93 0.9 4.68 Hourly Rate $465 $425 $325 $225 $225 $225 Total Compensation $10,839.15 $55,041.75 $18,252.00 $1,559.25 $202.50 $105.30 $85,999.95 Under the settlement agreement defendants paid $66,518.38 into a trust account. As part of the settlement, plaintiffs have agreed to cap the award of attorneys fees and costs at $52,000. Plaintiffs here seek that amount. The fees and costs requested do not adversely impact recovery for plaintiffs. In a successful action under the FDCPA, the award of attorneys fees to the plaintiff is mandatory. 15 U.S.C. 1692k(a)(3); Camacho v. Bridgeport Financial, 523 F.3d 973, 978 (9th Cir. 2008). In making such an award, the court should use the lodestar method, multiplying a reasonable expenditure of time by a reasonable rate to reach what is, presumptively, a reasonable award. Id. In support of their motion for fees, plaintiffs' counsel O. Randolph Bragg, Paul Arons, and Ronald Wilcox have submitted itemized statements describing the time expended on the action and the services rendered. Wilcox Decl., Ex. 1; Bragg Decl., Ex. 1; Arons Decl. Ex. 1. The court is satisfied that counsel's motion for fees reasonably reflect the hours spent in rendering services for the class. The court further finds that $465 an hour for Mr. Bragg, $425 an hour for Mr. Arons, and $325 an hour for Mr. Wilcox are reasonable rates for attorneys with their equivalent years of experience and specifically handling FDCPA cases or other debtor/creditor disputes. // // // ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE'S MAY 23, 2005 ORDER--C-04-03027 RMW MAG 2 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 DATED: 12/18/08 III. ORDER For the foregoing reasons, the court grants plaintiffs' motion for attorneys fees and costs. RONALD M. WHYTE United States District Judge ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE'S MAY 23, 2005 ORDER--C-04-03027 RMW MAG 3 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 Notice of this document has been electronically sent to: Counsel for Plaintiff(s): Ronald Wilcox ronaldwilcox@post.harvard.edu O. Randolph Bragg r and@horwitzlaw.com Paul Arons lopa@rockisland.com Counsel for Defendant(s): June D. Coleman jcoleman@ecplslaw.com Andrew Steinheimer asteinheimer@ecplslaw.com Mark Ellis mellis@ecplslaw.com Counsel are responsible for distributing copies of this document to co-counsel that have not registered for e-filing under the court's CM/ECF program. Dated: 12/18/08 JAS Chambers of Judge Whyte ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE'S MAY 23, 2005 ORDER--C-04-03027 RMW MAG 4

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.


Why Is My Information Online?