United States of America v. $45,000.00 in United States Currency
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER that the 82 Motion for Attorney Fees Fees and Litigation Costs filed by Claimant Carlos Martins, is granted; Claimant Carlos Martins is awarded attorney's fees as the prevailing party in the amount of $36,175.00; and Claimant Carlos Martins is awarded $262.80 for costs associated with this case. Ordered by Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp. (ADB)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
$45,000.00 IN UNITED STATES
This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Attorney Fees and Litigation
Costs (Filing No. 82) filed by Claimant Carlos Martins (“Claimant”). For the reasons
stated below, the Motion will be granted.
Claimant prevailed in this forfeiture proceeding initiated by the United States.
(Filing No. 81.) The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (“CAFRA”) states that in “any civil
proceeding to forfeit property under any provision of Federal law in which the claimant
substantially prevails, the United States shall be liable for reasonable attorney fees and
other litigation costs reasonably incurred by the claimant.” 28 U.S.C. § 2465(b)(1)(A).
Claimant has moved for an award of attorney’s fees and costs.
CAFRA does not expressly state how fee and cost awards should be calculated.
However, courts have used the lodestar method to determine the proper amount to be
awarded. See United States v. $186,416.00 in U.S. Currency, 642 F.3d 753, 754 (9th
Cir. 2011); United States v. One Star Class Sloop Sailboat, 546 F.3d 26, 37-8 (1st Cir.
2008). “The most useful starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is
the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable
hourly rate.” Miller v. Dugan, 13-2653, 2014 WL 4099725, at *3 -- F.3d -- (8th Cir. Aug.
21, 2014) (quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983); see also Del.
Valley Citizens' Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 565 (1986) (explaining that the
lodestar is the “the product of reasonable hours times a reasonable rate.”) “[T]he fee
applicant bears the burden of establishing entitlement to an award and documenting the
appropriate hours expended and hourly rates.” Id. (quoting Hensley, 461 U.S. at 437).
Claimant has submitted a Brief (Filing No. 83) and Declaration of Claimant’s
attorney (Filing No. 84) in support of his Motion. The United States has not challenged
or otherwise responded to Claimant’s Motion. Claimant’s attorney of record, Joseph L.
Howard, has fourteen years of experience and is a partner with the law firm of Dornan,
Lustgarten, and Troia. There is no indication that the requested $250/hour fee is
unreasonable. The Declaration provides a detailed description of the hours expended to
pursue Claimant’s claim, including work before the District Court and Circuit Court of
Appeals. The Court concludes the time and costs expended were reasonable and was
essential to bringing about the result achieved. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED:
The Motion for Attorney Fees and Litigation Costs (Filing No. 82) filed by
Claimant Carlos Martins, is granted;
Claimant Carlos Martins is awarded attorney’s fees as the prevailing party
in the amount of $36,175.00; and
Claimant Carlos Martins is awarded $262.80 for costs associated with this
Dated this 17th day of September, 2014.
BY THE COURT:
s/Laurie Smith Camp
Chief United States District Judge
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?