Rice v. Interfood, Inc. et al
OPINION MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment, [Doc. No. 143 ], is granted. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants are awarded $78,496.74 in attorneys fees as damages resulting from the need to file their counterclaim. An Amended Judgment will be entered this same date. Signed by District Judge Henry Edward Autrey on 6/22/17. (KJS)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
INTERFOOD, INC., et al.,
Case No. 4:13CV1171 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Alter or Amend
Judgment to include an Attorney’s Fee award, [Doc. No.143]. Plaintiff opposes
the motion. The motion is well taken, and therefore will be granted.
In its Opinion, Memorandum and Order of January 23, 2015, the Court
granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on their claim for damages
resulting from Plaintiff’s breach of a covenant not to sue. The Court ordered
Defendants to submit a statement of their attorneys’ fees for the Court’s review.
The Court found in the January 23, 2015 Opinion that Defendants’ damages are
their attorneys’ fees incurred in bringing their counterclaim against Plaintiff. After
the submission of the itemized statement of attorneys’ fees, the Court entered
judgment without the inclusion of an attorney fee award. Defendants now ask the
Court to amend the Judgment to include the award.
Although Plaintiff has filed a pleading entitled “Reply in Opposition to
Defendants’ Motion to Alter Judgment,” the document is in effect a re-argument of
Plaintiff’s opposition to the entry of summary judgment in Defendants’ favor.
Plaintiff does not dispute the amount sought or the reasonableness of the submitted
billing rates. The Court has previously articulated its reasoning for granting
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment and will not reiterate that rationale
here. Plaintiff has presented nothing new to establish that he is entitled to
reconsideration of the ruling.
The Court therefore must determine what the amount of an attorneys’ fee
award should be. To determine reasonable attorneys' fees, “the most useful starting
point is ... the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by
a reasonable hourly rate.” Id. at 433. This calculation is referred to as the “lodestar
approach.” See, e.g., Perdue v. Kenny A. ex rel. Winn, 559 U.S. 542, 552 (2010).
There is a strong presumption that the lodestar calculation represents a reasonable
fee award. City of Burlington v. Dague, 505 U.S. 557, 562 (1992).
The Court must determine a reasonable hourly rate. “[D]etermining an
appropriate ‘market rate’ for the services of a lawyer is inherently difficult.” Blum,
465 U.S. at 495, fn. 11. “Where an attorney requesting fees has well-defined
billing rates, those rates can be used to help calculate a reasonable rate for a fee
award.” McDonald v. Armontrout, 860 F.2d 1456, 1459 (8th Cir. 1988).
Defendants have submitted a detailed billing which identifies the attorney
performing the task, the amount of time expended, multiplied by the hourly rates
for each attorney, and the legal task performed. While it appears to the Court,
based on each attorney’s experience, it also appears from this billing that several
attorneys performed some of the same tasks, for example, analysis of certain
pleadings and strategy. The Court is of the opinion that double or triple billing for
conferences between attorney and analyzing strategy by several attorneys exceeds
the notion of “reasonable.” The Court will therefore reduce the fee request
submitted by defense counsel by 15%. Counsel requests a total award of
$92,349.10. This amount reduced by 15% leaves a reasonable fee of $78,496.74.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Alter or Amend
Judgment, [Doc. No. 143], is granted.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants are awarded $78,496.74 in
attorneys’ fees as damages resulting from the need to file their counterclaim.
An Amended Judgment will be entered this same date.
Dated this 22nd day of June, 2017.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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