Zoerb v. National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2006-3 et al

Filing 51

ORDER granting Plaintiff's 47 Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs. Court grants Plaintiff $125,000 in attorney's fees and $7500 in costs. Signed by Judge Cynthia Bashant on 4/5/2017. (jah)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DAWN ZOERB, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, 12 13 Case No. 14-cv-00468-BAS-KSC ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS Plaintiff, v. 14 15 18 NATIONAL COLLEGIATE STUDENT LOAN TRUST 2006-3, a Delaware statutory trust(s); and LAW OFFICE OF PATENAUDE AND FELIX, A.P.C., 19 Defendants. 16 17 20 21 22 23 Plaintiffs’ counsel files a Motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs requesting 24 $125,000 in attorneys’ fees and $7,500 reimbursement for costs. (ECF No. 47.) 25 Defendants do not oppose. The Court held a hearing on the issue on April 3, 2017. 26 After reviewing the time sheets and considering the arguments of counsel both 27 oral and written, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs’ request is reasonable and 28 GRANTS the Motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs. –1– 14cv468 1 I. STATEMENT OF FACTS 2 A. Underlying Case 3 On March 3, 2014, Plaintiff Dawn Zoerb filed a civil class action alleging that 4 Defendants, as assignees of student loan debts, failed to properly identify the original 5 creditor in various state court collections actions. (ECF No. 1.) The case was 6 eventually consolidated with ten other cases making the same allegations against 7 Defendants. (ECF No. 22.) 8 The Plaintiffs claim Defendants violated the FDCPA and Rosenthal Act by 9 filing complaints in state court collections lawsuits falsely claiming that each Plaintiff 10 had entered into a written loan contract with Defendants, when the Plaintiff in fact 11 had never dealt with Defendants and had no idea who they were. (ECF No. 1.) 12 Defendants, however, claim that the FDCPA is inapplicable and that because 13 Plaintiffs received earlier notice of the Defendant Trusts taking over their loan 14 obligations, Plaintiffs could not have been misled in the state court actions. (Joint 15 Mot., ECF No. 43, ¶ IIB.) 16 The parties met with a private mediator, the Hon. Herbert B. Hoffman (Ret.) 17 on multiple occasions. All aspects of the settlement were extensively negotiated 18 through 19 correspondence, with multiple drafts of the Settlement Agreement being prepared 20 before it was presented for the Court’s approval. (Joint Mot. ¶ 2(C).) numerous meetings, telephone conferences and exchanges of 21 B. Settlement and Attorneys’ Fees 22 Plaintiffs submit declarations detailing that hourly attorneys’ fees expended on 23 this case to date total $159,971, more than the $125,000 requested, and that costs 24 advanced equal $8,441.67, again more than the $7,500 requested. (ECF No. 47.) 25 II. ANALYSIS 26 The FDCPA provides for mandatory attorney fees to be awarded to the 27 successful consumer. Tolentino v. Friedman, 46 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 1995); 15 28 U.S.C. § 1692k(a). Courts have an obligation to ensure that the attorneys’ fees award, –2– 14cv468 1 like the settlement, is reasonable. In re Bluetooth Headsets Prods. Liab. Litig., 654 2 F.3d 935, 941 (9th Cir. 2011). 3 However, “[u]nlike most private tort litigants [a plaintiff who brings an 4 FDCPA action] seeks to vindicate important . . . rights that cannot be valued solely 5 in monetary terms.” Tolentino, 46 F.3d at 652 (quoting City of Riverside v. Rivera, 6 477 U.S. 561, 574 (1986)). “The most useful starting point for determining the 7 amount of a reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonably expended on the 8 litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.” Tolentino, 46 F.3d at 652 (quoting 9 Hensley v. Eckenhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)). The Court should also consider the 10 novelty and difficulty of the litigated issues; preclusion of employment by the 11 attorney due to acceptance of the case; results obtained; experience, reputation and 12 ability of the plaintiffs’ attorney; “undesirability” of the case and awards in similar 13 cases. Id. 14 Plaintiffs’ counsel submits records detailing the number of hours worked on 15 this case. The Court finds the number of hours as well as the hourly rate reasonable 16 given the experience level of the attorneys involved. Thus, had plaintiffs’ counsel 17 been working for a client who paid a reasonably hourly wage, counsel would be 18 entitled to $159,971. Counsel is requesting less than this amount or $125,000. The 19 Court finds this is reasonable. Although the litigated issues were not novel or 20 difficult, they did require much negotiation by the attorneys and the results obtained 21 were excellent given plaintiffs’ primary damage was decreased credit scores due to 22 the alleged misrepresentations. 23 Defendant does not object to Plaintiffs’ request for reimbursement of costs in 24 the amount of $7,500.00. Plaintiffs’ counsel detail costs expended that exceed this 25 amount. Therefore, the Court finds the requested amount of $7,500 is reasonable and 26 grants Plaintiffs’ request for costs. 27 III. 28 CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion for –3– 14cv468 1 Attorneys’ Fees and Costs. (ECF No. 47.) The Court grants Plaintiff $125,000 in 2 attorneys’ fees and $7500 in costs. 3 IT IS SO ORDERED. 4 5 DATED: April 5, 2017 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 –4– 14cv468

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?