Denton v. PennyMac Loan Services, LLC et al

Filing 58

OPINION AND ORDER granting 43 Motion for Attorney Fees & Costs; dismissing as moot 56 Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Authority. The Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees and costs, and hereby AWARDS attorney 9;s fees to Plaintiff in the amount of $33,718.50, and AWARDS costs to Plaintiff in the amount of $100.00, but DENIES all other requested costs. ECF No. 43. Finally, the Court DISMISSES as MOOT Plaintiff's motion for leave to file supplemental authority. ECF No. 56. Signed by District Judge Mark S. Davis on 5/12/17 and filed on 5/15/17. (tbro)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA Newport News Division DAVID D. DENTON, Plaintiff, Civil Action No. V. PENNYMAC LOAN SERVICES, 4:16cv32 LLC., Defendant. OPINION AND This matter is before the ORDER Court on a motion seeking attorney's fees^ and costs, ECF No. 43, and a motion for leave to file David supplemental D. attorney's Denton fees Reporting Act, upon ECF ("Plaintiff"). and costs 15 U.S.C. Plaintiff's Judgment. authority, is No. 56, Plaintiff's by Plaintiff motion for filed pursuant to the Fair Credit §§ 1681o(a)(2) acceptance filed of and 1681n(a)(3), Defendant's For the reasons discussed below. seeking attorney's fees and costs is GRANTED, Rule 68 based Offer of Plaintiff's motion but the amount of ^ The Court notes that the Fair Credit Reporting Act uses the phrase "attorney's fees," 15 U.S.C. § 1681o{a)(2), and thus the Court will use this statutory terminology throughout this Opinion. See Marek v. Chesny, 473 U.S. 1, 8 (1985) ("attorney's fees"). However, the Court is aware that multiple other terms have been used to describe attorney's fees. See, e.g., Hensley V. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983) ("attorney's fee"); Grissom v. The Mills Corp., 549 F.3d 313, 318 (4th Cir. 2008) ("attorney fees"); Barber v. Kimbrell's, Inc., 577 F.2d 216, 226 (4th Cir. 1978) ("attorneys' fees"). Even Black's Law Dictionary has listed this phrase differently in different editions. Compare, Black's Law Dictionary 148 (9th ed. 2004) (giving a definition for "attorney's fees"), with Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014) (giving a definition for "attorney's fee"). such award is less than Plaintiff requested, and Plaintiff's motion for leave to file supplemental authority is DISMISSED as MOOT. I. Factual and Procedural Background On May 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Equifax Information Services, Trans Union, LLC Loan Services, Federal Fair LLC, Experian Information Solutions, {''Credit LLC Reporting Agencies")/ and Inc., PennyMac ("Defendant")/^ alleging a violation of the Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. Compl. K 1, ECF No. 1. According to Plaintiff, while acting as his Defendant mortgage Credit Reporting delinquent Reporting this servicer. on a mortgage Agencies derogatory ^ 29. Agencies his id. deliberately filing his within Plaintiff payment, information Prior to inaccuracies then that incorrectly f and the knowingly which favor. Br. 1, Plaintiff ECF No. engaged 44. did not days Credit credit, id. Plaintiff disputed the credit However, the published report directly Defendant and with each of the Credit Reporting Agencies. Opening to thirty Plaintiff's complaint, consumer was 28, and regarding reported the resolve dispute the with Pl.'s process dispute in in his Id. ^ shortly after filing his complaint, Plaintiff settled his disputes with each of the Credit Reporting Agencies, defendant in the case. leaving Pl.'s Opening Br. 1. PennyMac as the sole remaining Plaintiff alleged two specific claims against Defendant in its capacity as his mortgage servicer: Count Six-violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681S-2 (b) (1) (A) investigate" "by Plaintiff's failing disputes all relevant id. provided by and the H 70, § 1681S-2 (b) (1) (B) information fully regarding reporting of his mortgage payment, violation of 15 U.S.C. to properly inaccurate and Count Seven- "by failing to review the consumer reporting agencies," id. H 91. While Plaintiff did not demand a specific dollar complaint. amount in his Plaintiff requested the form of actual damages, statutory damages, costs relief specific performance and and attorney's relief, fees, in punitive damages, injunctive and "such other relief the Court deems just and proper." Id. ^ 99. Plaintiff's Defendant's counsel settlement. initially $120,000, 48-1, reducing explaining offered 2016, records August Records to settle and on November 10, at settle for 15. that 19, will case 2016, $5,000. 2016, ECF the not this settlement 3 with inquire about 44-1. against Defendant Plaintiff Defendant immediately demand counter discussion to a for responded with a Emails Between Counsel, reasonable settlement range." when contact to No. counsel settlement " [w] e reflect 18, Plaintiff's Plaintiff's outside of a 10, on Billing counteroffer to No. billing responded, $119,000, response Id. ECF that but is As of November occurred, Plaintiff had accrued attorney's Rotkis Decl. November including Id. H fees H 3, ECF No. 30, 2016, the coordinating, 4. Then, on in the 52-1. parties of $51,193.75. Between November 10, continued preparing November amount for, 30, to and pursue taking 2016, 2d 2016, and discovery, depositions. Defendant made the following Offer of Judgment: Pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendant Pennymac Loan Services, LLC N.A. ("Pennymac")/ by counsel, hereby offers to allow judgment to be taken against it in this action as to all claims asserted against it by Plaintiff David D. Denton (''Plaintiff"), in the amount of (a) Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) for actual, statutory, and/or punitive damages; incurred in this action and (b) to the all reasonable costs date of this offer, including reasonable attorneys^ fees incurred as of the date of this offer, as determined by the Court, payable to Plaintiff's Counsel. Offer of J., ECF No. 41-1 (emphasis added). The same day, Plaintiff accepted the Offer of Judgment and filed a notice of acceptance with the Court. J., ECF No. Not. of Acceptance of R. 68 Offer of 41. After the parties failed to agree on reasonable attorney's fees. Plaintiff costs, ECF No. No. 44. response, On filed 43, a motion seeking attorney's fees and a memorandum and exhibits in support, January 18, 2017, arguing that the Court Defendant (1) filed a brief and ECF in should reduce Plaintiff's requested fee award due to Plaintiff's limited success and (2) should exclude ECF fees incurred after the Offer of Judgment. No. 48, 2 017, No. at 5, 13. together 52. leave Plaintiff filed a reply brief on January 28, with additional On April to file 7, 2017, supporting Plaintiff a brief Having fees for been submitted a in opposition fully and costs, ECF No. on briefed. April 56. for his motion Defendant responded 20, Plaintiff's ECF motion supplemental authority in support of for attorney's fees and costs. with documentation. 2017. motion ECF for No. 57. attorney's and Plaintiff's motion to supplement, are ripe review. II. Standard for Attorney's Fees Award A. Traditionally, lawsuit 461 bears U.S. its 424, Entitlement under the to a "American Rule," own attorney's 429 Fee Award (1983) . fees. However, each party Hensley v. Congress the Fair seg. of Credit Reporting Under FCRA, the action consumer ''in liability" U.S.C. 15 case under this with of reasonable any statute. § to award successful 15 U.S.C. id., U.S.C. attorney's § action I68I0; shift the such as 1681, et "the costs fees" to to a enforce see also 15 § 1681n{a)(3). The burden, ("FCRA"), Congress directed courts together the Act Eckerhart, may attorney-fee burden through a fee-shifting statute, in a parties also may shift and/or limit the attorney-fee such as by an offer of judgment made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68(a). See Grissom v. 5 The Mills Corp., 549 F.3d 313, 68 offer 320 of (4th Cir. judgment in 2008) the {holding that, case, plaintiff attorney's fees up to the date of the offer). a defendant may under the Rule was entitled Under Rule 68(a), "serve on an opposing party an offer to allow judgment on specified terms, with the costs then accrued." R. Civ. P. 68(a). If, within 14 days, the plaintiff written notice accepting the defendant's offer of clerk must then enter the judgment. After a plaintiff plaintiff may Charles Marcus, 12 update) ("But here their [Rule 68] award to again incurred F.3d 1111, of . judgment . 1114-1113 for 68 offer of the judgment, according judgment. Fed. Civ. § defendants R. Miller 3005.1 R. & the Civ. P. Richard L. (2d ed. can provide to a Apr. 2017 otherwise in if the offer explicitly limits the fee before the date legal work should not be included."); 70 serves judgment, fees Arthur & Proc. offers; Rule offer of Wright, Prac. a Fed. Id. attorney's in the Alan Fed. fees accepts recover "specified terms" 68(a); to (9th Cir. "reasonable of the offer, see Guerrero v. 1995) further Cummings, (holding that an offer attorney fees and costs incurred . prior to the date of this offer in an amount to be set by the court" unambiguously excluded attorney's fees in preparation of the fee petition). of judgment provide Unless the "specified terms" in the offer otherwise, a plaintiff avenues for recovery of attorney's fees; 6 (1) has two potential under Rule 68, as "costs then accrued," or as FCRA. Cooper 2008 WL 5332190, B. v. (2) under a fee-shifting statute, Verifications, at *4 {N.D. Ind. Calculation of a Inc., No. such 1:04-CV-385-TS, 2008) . **Reasonable" Fee Award If the plaintiff is entitled to attorney's fees, must the Court then calculate the ''reasonable" attorney's The United States Court of Appeals outlined a three step framework for for fees the for case. Fourth Circuit has calculating a reasonable attorney's fee: First, the court must "determine the lodestar figure by multiplying the number of reasonable hours expended times a Servs., reasonable rate." LLC, 560 F.3d 235, ascertain what is Robinson v. Equifax Info. 243 (4th Cir. 2009). To reasonable in terms of hours expended and the rate charged, the court is bound to apply the factors set forth in Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express Inc. , 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 {5th Cir. 1974). Id. at 243-44. Next, the court must "subtract fees for hours spent on unsuccessful claims unrelated to successful ones." Id. at 244. Finally, the court should award "some percentage of the remaining amount, depending on the plaintiff." Id. McAfee (Jan. v. 23, Boczar, 2014) 738 degree F.3d 81, of 88 success (4th enjoyed Cir. 2013), by as the amended (footnote omitted) ^ The Court notes that many of the cases cited throughout this Opinion and Order analyze statutes authorizing attorney's fees in contexts different from the instant case. However, the United States Supreme Court has noted that the same legal standards for attorney's fees awards are "generally applicable in all cases in which Congress has authorized an award of fees to a 'prevailing party.'" Hensley, 461 U.S. at 455 n.7; see Robinson v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 560 F.3d 235, 243 {4th Cir. 2009) (applying the traditional attorney's fees calculation method to an attorney's fees request under FCRA). The calculation of a lodestar figure is "[t]he most useful starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee," because it "provides an objective basis on which to make an initial estimate of the value of a lawyer's services." Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433; 559 U.S. 542, (2010) 551 see Perdue v. . . . fee-shifting marks and citation omitted). proving the Winn, attorney's own jurisprudence") (quotation The fee applicant bears the burden reasonableness requested hourly rates, the ex rel. (characterizing the lodestar calculation as "the guiding light of of Kenny A. of the hours which generally affidavit and expended requires timesheets and the submission of as well as "'satisfactory specific evidence of the prevailing market rates in the relevant attorney] Plyler v. community for seeks an award.'" Evatt, evaluating the reasonable rate 902 F.2d submissions and a the type of work for which Grissom, 549 F.3d at 321 273, 277 (4th in order to reasonable number of Cir. (quoting 1990)). determine hours [the In both expended, lodestar analysis is guided by the following twelve factors "Johnson factors"): (1) the time and labor expended; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions raised; (3) the skill required to properly perform the legal services rendered; (4) the attorney's opportunity costs in pressing the instant litigation; (5) the customary fee for like work; (6) the attorney's expectations at the outset of the litigation; (7) the time limitations imposed by the client or circumstances; (8) the amount in controversy and the results obtained; (9) the a the (the experience, reputation and ability of the attorney; (10) the unde sirability of the case within the legal community in which the suit arose; (11) the nature and length of the professional relationship between attorney and client; and (12) attorneys' fees awards in similar cases. Barber v. 1978) (adopting Circuit Kimbrell's in (1974)); objective approach the Johnson cf. Inc., twelve v. Ga. Perdue, lodestar outlined 577 559 U.S. Johnson, 216, factors Highway approach in F.2d at is 226 identified Express 550-52 failing (4th by Inc.; the 488 to to the hold Cir. Fifth F.2d 714 why (explaining superior but n.28 the subjective that it is improper to be informed by the Johnson factors when perfonning a lodestar analysis). this the Court Fourth Circuit precedent to be guided by the lodestar factors Because figure, has "to already the been analysis," such factor(s) Johnson extent factors that incorporated any requires in determining of into the the Johnson lodestar are not later considered a second time to make an upward or downward adjustment to the lodestar figure because McAfee, doing so would "inappropriately such factor. 738 F.3d at 91. The second step in the fee the weigh" Court to exclude unsuccessful claims Robinson v. Equifax Cir. see 2009); fees calculation procedure requires for counsel's that are unrelated to the Info. Hens ley, Servs., 461 U.S. LLC, at 560 435 time spent on successful claims. F.3d 235, ("The 244 (4th congressional intent to limit awards to prevailing parties requires that . . . [unrelated claims based on different facts and legal theories] be treated as if they had been raised in separate lawsuits, and therefore no fee may be awarded for services on the unsuccessful claim[s]."). The Supreme Court has recognized that " [i]t may well be that cases involving such unrelated claims are unlikely to arise with great frequency," because "[m]any civil rights cases will present only a single claim," and in other cases, the claims related latter ''will involve a legal common core of theories." circumstance, generally to the Hens ley, " [m]uch of of s e r i e s of the litigation as a lawsuit discrete whole, or will U.S. at time be based on 435. will In be it such devoted making i t difficult claim-by-claim basis," precluding claims." 461 counsel's divide the hours expended on a nature facts from being to with the ''viewed as a Id. The third and final step, after a lodestar calculation has been made and any unsuccessful efforts on unrelated claims have been excluded, requires the Court to award "'some percentage of the remaining amount, depending on the degree of success enjoyed by the plaintiff.'" Grissom, V. City of Aiken, 278 F.3d 549 F.3d at 321 333, 337 (4th Cir. (quoting Johnson 2002)). It is appropriate for the Court to reduce an award at this third step of the analysis if "'the relief, in comparison to the scope of 10 however significant, the litigation as is limited a whole.'" McAfee, 738 F.3d at 92 (quoting Hensley, "What the court must ask is whether level of success satisfactory Hensley, that basis 461 U.S. makes for the making at 434). 461 fee reasonably award.'" Accordingly, expended reasonable hourly cases ''where nonfrivolous, 436. An rate the the litigation may be an as attorney's it was counsel litigated fees claims award reasonable the critical to case factor is file the degree whether of even in 461 U.S. at driven by not and a interrelated, Hensley, or times amount," therefore suit (quoting whole were "with devotion is a excessive plaintiff's Id. a the product of hours and raised in good faith." whether ''the most on expended when "a plaintiff has achieved only partial or limited success, reasonably at 439-40). ^the plaintiff achieved a hours a U.S. plaintiff's skill"; success rather, obtained." Id. I I I . Discussion Defendant two arguments requested attorney's fees award. Plaintiff entitled incurred is up Defendant makes only to the argues date that of to the in response First, Plaintiff's Plaintiff's Defendant argues that reasonable Offer to of fee attorney's Judgment. award fees Second, should be substantially reduced to account for Plaintiff's limited degree of success, as reflected by the amount of damages Plaintiff demanded in initial settlement negotiations versus the amount of 11 damages Plaintiff actually obtained. In considering Plaintiff's attorney's fees request and Defendant's arguments in opposition, the Court will determine (both pre and post Plaintiff's Offer of figure, and then adjust, entitlement Judgment), remedy case Defendant's investigate was filed alleged Plaintiff's to review failure disputes all relevant consumer reporting agencies, id. H 91. Defendant "allow[ed] judgment be all claims costs incurred in lodestar asserted seeking and the 70, of inaccurate and the alleged provided Judgment, against to properly by On November 30, taken Offer of J.; Not. of Acceptance of R. the Offer of Judgment, t information Offer to fully Compl. Defendant's as FCRA, regarding accepted to to to Plaintiff action the award Fee Award pursuant reporting of his mortgage payment, failure fee McAfee, 738 F.3d at 88. A. Entitlement to a instant calculate a if necessary, the lodestar according to Plaintiff's degree of success. The to against it 2016, in it the which in this by Plaintiff." 68 Offer of J. As part of Defendant offered to pay "all reasonable this action including reasonable attorneys' to fees the date of this offer, incurred as of the date of this offer, as determined by the Court." Offer of J. While the parties agree that Plaintiff is entitled to some award of attorney's fees, Plaintiff is entitled to the parties vigorously dispute whether attorney's 12 fees incurred after the Offer of Judgment. that Plaintiff because such the Def. ' s Resp. is not explicit fees); Pl.'s prevailing compensation terms of is, for 13, ECF No. 48 (arguing entitled to post-Offer attorney's Reply Br. party Br. 19, as time the Offer of a ECF No. matter spent litigating Judgment excluded 52 of fees (arguing that law, the entitled fee a to petition). According to the billing records submitted, Plaintiff's counsel, Ms. hours after November 30, Susan Rotkis, 2016, the Judgment. billed an additional date Billing following tasks: that Plaintiff Records client at contact, fees with drafting petition, counsel, billed compilation in the case, the Offer of of for a the billing telephone conference declaration for the fee Id. Plaintiff Defendant's is Offer of successful Judgment. that pursuant to an purposes of determining successful a a (holding party offer party. fees under either fee-shifting Offer Counsel the and drafting the motion for attorney's fees and brief in support. the accepted 22-24. estimate for attorney's opposing 9.5 of who of statute, was attorney's may such as as 13 he 54 9 accepted F.3d 319 favorable resolution a prevailing party fees eligibility). recover according to for As a attorney's "costs then accrued," No. at a potentially FCRA, Cooper, because Grissom, achieved Rule 68, Judgment. See judgment Plaintiff (1) party or (2) a the terms of 1:04-CV-385-TS, 2008 WL 5332190, at *4. The Court will address Plaintiff's entitlement to attorney's fees both under Rule 68 and under FCRA. 1. Rule 68: **Costs then accrued" Under Rule 68(a), a defendant may make an offer of judgment "on specified terms, P. 68(a) with the costs then accrued." (emphasis added). Fed. R. Civ. Thus, under Rule 68, a plaintiff who accepts an offer of judgment is entitled to costs accrued up to the point of the offer. Id. Recoverable "costs" attorney's fees when "the underlying statute defines include attorney's (1985). fees." In such cases, Marek Rule 68 "costs" TS, as as 2008 pursuant "the fees" Plaintiff enforce then WL 5332190, to a FCRA, of definition at in the entitled accrued" consumer added); of *5. to see costs also does 15 not 1, with U.S.C. No. not 9 case define was filed to award courts successful 15 attorney's action U.S.C. attorney fees. to § I68I0 § 1681n(a) (3) . encompass under l;04-CV-385- reasonable any statute. fees does civil directed case of this FCRA instant together under attorney's Cooper, Congress "in the U.S. to "are to be included as because The which action liability" (emphasis not 473 'costs' Id. including attorney's fees. costs to "costs is Chesny, attorney's fees costs for purposes of Rule 68." Here, v. include "FCRA's Indeed, the plain language of the FCRA's provisions for civil liability for both willful noncompliance 14 and negligence clearly treat costs and attorney fee separately." 2008 WL 5332190, at considered part of of "costs Fed. R. then Civ. *5. P. Because "costs" accrued" not Marek, No. 1:04-CV-385-TS, attorney's under FCRA, does 68{a); Cooper, Rule U.S. are not SB's authorization encompass 473 fees at attorney's 9.^ fees. Therefore, Plaintiff may not recover attorney's fees as part of his Rule 68 costs then accrued. 2. Fee-shifting Statute: FCRA While Plaintiff may not recover attorney's fees as part of Rule 68 to the fees ^ "costs," Plaintiff may recover attorney's fee-shifting may Defendant be limited also argues provision of by the that FCRA, terms Plaintiff in is though the not fees pursuant such attorney's Offer entitled of to Judgment. post-Offer attorney's fees because a Rule 68 offer of judgment limits costs to only the costs accrued as of the offer date. Def.'s Resp. Br. 13-14. Because attorney's fees under FCRA are not considered "costs" within the definition of Rule 68, attorney's fees are not limited as "costs then accrued" under Rule 68. For example, in Bradford v. HSBC Mortgage Corporation, 859 F. Supp. 2d 783 (E.D. Va. 2012), the offer of judgment included "costs and reasonable attorney's fees in connection with this claim, if provided by statute," id. at 788 (emphasis added) . The terms of the offer of judgment only limited costs and attorney's fees to what was authorized by statute, but did not otherwise provide any limitation. The claim in the case was brought under the Truth in Lending Act {"TILA"), which provided that a successful party was entitled to "the costs of the action, together with a reasonable attorney's fee as determined by the court." 15 U.S.C. § 1640. In construing the offer of judgment in Bradford, the court held that Rule 68's limitation on "costs then accrued" did not limit the award of post-offer attorney's fees because the TILA "unambiguously excludes attorney's fees from costs." Bradford, 859 F. Supp. 2d at 797. Because attorney's fees were not considered "costs," and therefore not limited by Rule 68's limitation on "costs then accrued," but attorney's fees were authorized under TILA, and the terms of the offer of judgment allowed for attorney's fees as provided by statute, the court in Bradford held that post-offer attorney's fees were recoverable. See id. Here, unlike the offer of judgment in Bradford that encompassed all attorney's fees provided by statute, Defendant's Offer of Judgment limited the payment of attorney's fees to only those incurred up to the date of the Offer. 15 Cooper, No. 1:04-CV-385-TS, 2008 WL 5332190, at *4. When an offer of judgment "is ambiguous or silent as to whether attorneyfees have been included, the party may independently authorized by statute." statutory right any to successful U.S.C. reasonable action § 1681n(a)(3); Plaintiff achieved accepting entitled to 15 U.S.C. a to (allowing Offer attorney's judgment to fees be liability" Judgment, under taken Br. 3; against see also Grissom, "in the under of case FCRA. his and FCRA. a of 15 action by therefore Offer See is J. Defendant claims asserted against it by Plaintiff"); Def.'s Resp. if It is undisputed that resolution of fees A consumer has fees § 16810. "successful" Defendant's Id. attorney's enforce recover of "as to Pl.'s Opening Br. 549 F.3d at 319 all 3; (holding that a party who achieved a favorable resolution pursuant to an offer prevailing of judgment determining was attorney's Plaintiff a fees is party eligibility). entitled to for purposes While some award the of of parties agree that attorney's fees, the parties disagree as to whether Plaintiff is entitled to attorney's fees incurred after the Offer of Judgment. Def.'s Resp. Br. 13; Pl.'s Reply Br. 19. It is entitlement party "well settled to attorney's recovers See Trimper v. attorney's that fees the time spent defending is properly compensable" fees City of Norfolk, 16 under a fee-shifting 58 F.3d 68, 77 when a statute. (4th Cir. 1995) (internal citation omitted). However, a his successful resolution of while Plaintiff achieved action and therefore usually be entitled to all reasonable attorney's fees, fees in preparation of successful as a fee petition, resolution pursuant authorizing 68(a) a judgment "on Rule specified (emphasis added). contract, to a Courts Plaintiff 68 including achieved Offer of teinns." would Fed. R. interpret an offer of the Judgment Civ. P. judgment enforcing the terms that the parties agreed upon when the terms unambiguously address attorney's fees. 549 F.3d at 320 Grissom, (looking to the "contract language" of the offer of judgment to determine whether post-offer attorney's fees were included in the Ewald Co. 9, V. 2016) courts Gomez, 136 S. (applying evaluate Webb V. terms of the offer of the effect James, use "basic of a 663, 670 (2016), principles rejected Rule 147 F.3d 617, contract judgment."). Ct. judgment); 620 of 68 (7th Cir. principles to see Campbell- as revised contract offer of 1998) (Feb. law" to judgment) ; ("[I]n general, interpret offers of In order for the terms of the Offer of Judgment to limit Plaintiff's statutory right to attorney's fees under FCRA, the terms entitlement 2008 Inc., WL of the to of attorney's 5332190, 201 F.R.D. Offer at 445, *5 448 Judgment fees. (quoting (S.D. Cooper, Aynes Ind. 17 must v. 2001)). specifically No. Space address 1:04-CV-385-TS, Guard Prods., Here, in the Offer of Judgment, Defendant offered to pay Plaintiff's ''reasonable attorneys' as of Offer 1113. the of date J. of this (emphasis offer, added); as see determined Guerrero, explicitly- fees incurred by 70 the Court." F.3d at 1114- Plaintiff accepted Defendant's Offer of Judgment on these terms. Not. of Acceptance of R. 68 Offer of J. Thus, the terms of the Offer of Judgment determine Plaintiff's entitlement to attorney's 5332190, at *5; RDB-08-1281, fees. Cooper, see Doe v. fees were expressly provided 1:04-CV-385-TS, 2008 Odenton Volunteer Fire Co., 2009 WL 3418567, post-offer No. not at *4 allowed that the {D. Md. when 2009) the was of judgment entitled ''reasonable attorney's fees and costs accrued to date"); V. at NCO Fin. *2 (D. offer of Sys. , Nev. Inc., 2015) judgment], plain language."). Offer of Judgment No. ("Fees incurred Guerrero, the incurred after Because excludes the plain attorney's [the language fees to Watson 2015 WL 1959163, date are excluded under the offer of this offer," Offer of J. , Judgment, 14-CV-1755-JAD-VCF, CIV.A (holding that offer plaintiff No. WL of after of the judgment's Defendant's the "date of pursuant to the terms of the Offer of the Court finds that Plaintiff is not entitled to fees while preparing the 70 F.3d at 1114-1113 settlement offers limits attorney's fees petition. ("Because the plain language of attorney's prior to the date of the offers, 18 fees to those accrued the district court did not err in finding that the [plaintiff's] acceptance clearly and unambiguously waived attorney's fees incurred thereafter."). Thus, Plaintiff is not Rule 68 ''costs," but ^ entitled to attorney's under entitled to attorney's fees under FCRA's statutory fee-shifting provision, as terms" in that fees Plaintiff accepted limited by the the Offer "specified of Judgment. Grissom, 549 F.3d at 320 ("Rule 68, by its plain and unambiguous terms, on provides for entry of judgment in favor of the plaintiff [the] terms specified in an offer of judgment.") . The "specified terms" of the Offer of Judgment in this case limited the attorney's fees to only fees incurred as of the date of the Offer of Judgment. attorney's because fees the Consequently, award terms of by the the Court reduces Plaintiff's the 9.5 Offer of post-Offer Judgment hours requested explicitly exclude such hours. B. Calculation of a ^^Reasonable" Fee Award 1. Lodestar Analysis The first determine the step in "lodestar" calculating figure reasonable hours expended times a F.3d at 88 (quoting Robinson, a reasonable "by multiplying reasonable rate." 560 F.3d at 243) . 19 the fee is number McAfee, to of 738 Based upon the billing records and affidavits submitted to the Court, Plaintiff appears to request the following attorney's fees:^ Requested Hours and Hourly Rates Name Hours Hourly Rate Susan Rotkis 152.2 $ 475 $ 72,295.00 Len Bennett 8.3 $ 625 $ 5,187.50 CCM 2.2 $ 400 $ 880.00 25 $ 200 $ 5,000.00 $ 83,362.50 Vicki Ward (paralegal) Total TOTAL a. Reasonable Rate As discussed above. Plaintiff attorney's fees Judgment. A party entitled the burden rates Cir. to of incurred the Spell v. market LaFleur v. Dollar Tree (E.D. 2016) (quoting rates the attorney's 824 reasonable Offer of fees "bears the hourly of F.2d 1380, 1402 (4th 'to be calculated according in Inc., v. to of reasonableness McDaniel, Blum date recover the Stores, entitled the "The reasonable rate is prevailing Va. of to establishing requested." 1987). as is the 189 relevant community.'" F. 3d Stenson, Supp. 465 U.S. 588, 596 886, 895 ^ Plaintiff also appears to request $3,698.14 in costs, which would result in a total requested amount of $87,060.64. Billing Records at 22, ECF No. 44-1. However, in his motion for attorney's fees. Plaintiff calculated his total requested costs and attorney's fees as $85,644.39. Mot. for Award of Att'y Fees & Costs 1. It is unclear how Plaintiff calculated his total amount of fees or what documentation he relied upon. Thus, the Court uses the numbers from Plaintiff's billing records and affidavits to determine what Plaintiff is recfuesting in attorney's fees, subject to the limitation that Plaintiff's recovery is not more than his explicitly requested amount of $85,644.39. 20 (1984)). This is generally accomplished ''through affidavits from disinterested counsel, evidence of awards in similar cases, or other 'actual specific rates market.'" Supp. which that counsel allows can the 710 (E.D. Va. court command Project Vote/Voting for America, 2d 704, 14 02) . evidence 2012) in to the determine [relevant] Inc. v. Long, (quoting Spell, 824 887 F. F.2d at "The relevant market for determining the prevailing rate is ordinarily the community in which the court where the action is prosecuted sits." F.3d 169, 175 Here, (4th Cir. both disinterested attorney's Decl., lead fees. 48-2. Caperton, 31 have submitted commenting Compare Pl.'s with Def.'s on Plaintiff's Opening Resp. affidavits Br. Br. requested Ex. Ex. 2, from 2, Pittman Fain Decl., Plaintiff has also submitted an affidavit by the attorney relevant parties 44-2; Inc. v. 1994). counsel ECF No. ECF No. Rum Creek Coal Sales, work on the case, experience generally Pl.'s Ex. 1, and Ms. the Rotkis, work Rotkis Decl., that done on ECF No. describes this 44-1, case, her see and submitted a copy of a declaration by Mr. Geoffrey Miller commenting on the reasonableness lawsuit, id. of Pl.'s attorney's Ex. that an hourly rate of 3, fees in a Miller Decl., $575 was FCRA ECF No. reasonable of Consumer Litigation Associates). 21 2014 class 44-3 for Mr. action (advising Len Bennett Plaintiff the who worked on attorneys requests following the case; hourly $475 for rates Ms. for Rotkis, the senior associate with twenty-one years of experience and lead attorney in the instant case, and $625 for Mr. Bennett, law firm founding partner with twenty-three years of experience and specialist in consumer litigation law. Plaintiff appears to Pl.'s Opening Br. request an hourly 11. rate Additionally, of $200 for Ms. Vicki Ward, a senior paralegal, Rotkis Decl. H 13; Pl.'s Opening Br. 13 n.5, and $400 for someone identified as ''CCM" in the billing records, see generally Billing Records at 17-22. Requested Rates Name Rate Requested Susan Rotkis $ 475 Len Bennett $ 625 CCM $ 400 Vicki Ward (paralegal) $ 200 Plaintiff offers a declaration by an attorney, in support generally personal of the Pittman reasonableness Decl., knowledge of with other attorneys, publications, rates charged reasonable, id. by t Pl.'s Ex. consumer these 2. fee Based litigation advertised rates, 18/ Mr. Mr. of Mr. Dale Pittman, amounts. upon cases, See extensive discussions case decisions and other Pittman states that he believes the Bennett and Ms. Rotkis to be "fair, and within the prevailing market rates for attorneys of similar education, training, and experience," id. 22 f 31. Mr. Hugh Fain, challenge in a declaration submitted by Defendant, Plaintiff's requested hourly they are the ^'maximum hourly rates." in its response dispute brief. Defendant [Plaintiff's requested] present Fee Petition." Notwithstanding requested rates, rates, but notes Fain Decl. H 21. states rates for that it that Finally, not the purposes of the Def.'s Resp. Br. 12. the absence of a "dispute" regarding the the Court is required by FCRA and the terms of 15 U.S.C. (directing courts to award "reasonable attorney's fees" under FCRA); J. not "does the Offer of Judgment to determine a reasonable rate. § 16810 does see also 15 U.S.C. § 1681n{a) (3) (offering "reasonable attorneys' the Court"). fees ... (same); Offer of as determined by In determining the reasonable rates, the Court is required to consider the relevant Johnson factors.® Barber, 577 F.2d at 226 two, the novelty and difficulty of questions raised, factor three, of n.28. the First, the Court evaluates argue factor and Johnson skill required to perform the legal services the various attorneys and paralegals. not Johnson either of these factors. While Defendant does Plaintiff acknowledges that the "questions presented by this case are not unusually novel or difficult that the in this court "novelty and or to Plaintiff's difficulty of counsel," the issues concluding therefore ® While the Court considers the Johnson factors out of numeric order, the Court does so for analytic clarity by evaluating factors together that analyze closely related topics. 23 provides no basis PI. ' s Opening Br. to adjust 8. the However, lodestar dovmward or upward." while the novelty and difficulty of the consumer law issues raised may not have been unusual for Plaintiff's experienced counsel, "only a few attorneys litigate the attorneys do involved in such Flame S.A. 7185199, rate v. at *6 because handling" nationally who underlying not Plaintiff argues that there are claims understand in or are this claim [consumer protection] Indus. Carriers, (E.D. Va. of Inc., 2014) each willing case spot to [because m] ost legal issues the cases." No. and able Id. at 2:13-CV-658, 9; see 2014 WL (authorizing the requested hourly attorney's of the legal issue). "skillful However, and proficient the Fourth Circuit has been cautious about awarding attorneys higher hourly rates based solely upon the argument that "consumer law is a special field," finding in Robinson v. such argument was Equifax Information Services, "untenable." 560 F.3d at 245 LLC, that (reversing the holding of the district court in Alexandria that hourly fees of $425 and $305 plaintiff rates were were failed to reasonable provide reasonable, such in a any as consumer evidence an law case that affidavit the from outside of the law firm regarding the market rate). the Court difficulty concludes of that questions Johnson raised, 24 factor and two, Johnson when the requested an attorney Therefore, the novelty and factor three, the skill required to perform the legal services of the various attorneys and paralegals, are neutral factors. Next, the opportunity six, the Court costs in pressing attorney's litigation, considers Johnson the litigation, expectations at and Johnson factor ten, the Litigation Associates four, Johnson outset the factor of the the asserted undesirability of the case within this legal community. Consumer factor is a Plaintiff asserts that small law fiinn and thus representing a client on a contingent fee or fee-shifting basis necessarily of involved loss other opportunities. The Court also considers Plaintiff's representation that "there are only a handful of federal court Pi. ' s attorneys Opening and Br. who in the 18. practice area in of According this legal consumer to market, protection Plaintiff, the in law." case was undesirable because "FCRA is a complex statute and advancing the costs an required to litigate inaccuracy case—which often include the deposition of overseas ACDV agents or employees in other states—can be costly and risky, taken on a Thus, paying in contingency fee, addition clients representation to when these cases are often with no guarantee of payment." the lost opportunity an attorney (opportunity cost), of as consumer accepts the contingent nature such cases less desirable within the a Court protection 25 to legal represent contingent considers cases may community. Id. other fee how the also make Because " [t]he vast majority of consumer protection claims arise out of clients facing financial distress," such cases are often undesirable because of the "far greater risk that the attorney will not see any payment at all than an attorney practicing in other areas of the law." CV-986, USA, 2013 LLC, Won Kim v. WL 3973419, No. at 3:13CV825, *5 No. 2017) deviating from incentivizes attorneys to otherwise ignored due cf. be Robinson, 560 an attorney a rate the prior litigating an the FCRA on of a fees cost, undesirability neither an Opening Br. of increase 10-11, counsel's the case nor 16 decrease the . v. FTS 2017), . Va. [FCRA] that may attorney."); to award than his "risk hourly associated basis"). in Having the Court concludes that neutral (acknowledging . 1:12- (E.D. cases higher contingent in Va. "untenable" expectations, are (E.D. for the considered Plaintiff's representations, opportunity No. Thomas Rule, these percent because case at *2 (finding it thirty-five year 2013); American minimal N.A., 2017 WL 1147460 prosecute 245 Bank, Va. 3:13CV825, to F.3d at rate (E.D. 2017 WL 1148283, R & R adopted sub nom.. ("[B]y U.S. the and factors, fee that the award. Johnson asserted justifying See factors Pl.'s four and six were neutral). In evaluating Johnson factor seven, this case, on May 2, the time limitations of the Court observes that this case was initially filed 2016, Compl., and the merits of the case were resolved 26 on November 30, of Judgment, Offer of J. his complaint, both of 2016 when Plaintiff accepted Defendant's Offer his claims of seven, time See Pl.'s within seven months of filing Plaintiff had achieved a complete resolution of chronology the Thus, the against case, Defendant. the limitations Opening Br. 16 Court of Having finds the case, that is (acknowledging a considered Johnson neutral that the factor factor. Johnson factor seven was neutral). The of Court next the professional attorneys. in Plaintiff neutral" relationship between eleven, the nature Plaintiff and his the states instant that matter. this factor Pl.'s is Opening either Br. 18. "inapplicable or in the context of an ''attorney whose representation is limited to matters." consumer Id. protection Consequently, eleven, between Johnson factor Plaintiff's counsel was engaged solely to represent Plaintiff factor evaluates the Plaintiff nature and his claims, the of Court the attorneys, which are not ongoing concludes that Johnson professional relationship does not provide a basis for adjusting Plaintiff's requested hourly rate. The Court further "customary hourly rate similar work. {internal five, the Daly v. citations Court of considers Johnson compensation" Hill, considered charged to 790 F.2d 1071, omitted). In the 27 factor 1077 evaluating affidavits five, the clients for {4th Cir. Johnson submitted 1986) factor by both parties regarding reasonable attorney's fees for the specific legal work in this case and the customary hourly rates typically charged to clients for similar work in similar cases. Creek Coal, 31 F.3d at 175 See Rum (determining that the customary rate is the rate that counsel could command in the market based upon the rates paid to and circumstances" services typical in attorneys counsel's similar fees, of ''comparable own typical circumstances"). In the Court considers Ms. skill fees for Rotkis's two years she has been paid an clients and by parties to mediation. hourly similar ''similar reviewing counsel's assertion that, while she rarely accepts clients on an hourly basis, past in rate Rotkis Decl. within the of $425 H 12. Court also considers that the $425 hourly rate that Ms. has charged to her fee-paying requested hourly rate of rel. Peterson v. 499, 516 not (E.D. intended Cty. Va. not challenged finds that 2009) "to (quoting Trimper, provide 58 Ms. Johnson compensation" Sch. $475 Bd. a Rotkis's charged to in the is lower instant case. of Hanover Cty. , The Rotkis than her See JP ex 641 F. Supp. 2d (noting that fee-shifting statutes are F.3d at factor clients by windfall 73)). higher five, clients to Thus, plaintiff's while Defendant has requested the for counsel" rate, the "customary hourly similar work, rate of weighs in favor of a lower hourly rate than Plaintiff has requested. 28 Court Next, in determining relevant market, the reasonable (evaluating examples of v. 561, (4th 572 the approved "similar Coal Corp. evidence of a Dir., fee consumer Division, recent the and in 2013) Grissom, rates like Office of Workers^ Cir. the in ("[P]rior cited cases"); Comp. fee 549 F.3d at E. cases as Associated Programs, awards 724 F.3d constitute prevailing market rate that may be considered in law Because the parties have cited to so attorney's fees cases from Court broadly surveyed attorney's consumer Virginia hourly awards fee-shifting contexts."). few within the Court considers under Johnson factor twelve the hourly rates awarded in similar cases. 323 rate law cases attorney's in fees the entire awards in fees Eastern other the Norfolk awards in District of types of cases within the Norfolk Division of the Eastern District of Virginia in order to assist it in determining what the prevailing market hourly rate for an attorney's fees award would be for a similar case in the Norfolk Division.^ Id. at 572 ("[W]e have held that ^ Arriola v. Pardo, No. 1:14CV0745 JFA, 2015 WL 3404725, at *6 (E.D. Va. 2015) (authorizing in the Alexandria Division of the Court the following hourly rates in a Consumer Credit Protection Act case: $375 for an attorney with nine years of experience; $3 00 for an attorney with four years of experience; and $175 for a paralegal); Won Kim, No. l:12-CV-986, 2013 WL 3973419, at *4 (finding in the Alexandria Division of the Court an hourly rate of $380 to be reasonable for an "experienced federal court litigator" in a consumer law case) ; Bradford, 859 F. Supp. 2d at 798 (finding in the Alexandria Division of the Court an hourly rate of $300 to be reasonable in a consumer law case for an attorney with eleven years of experience) ; see also Crump V. Dep't of Navy, No. 2:13CV707, 2017 WL 1158244, at *9 (E.D, Va. 2017) (finding in the Norfolk Division of the Court the following hourly rates to be reasonable in an employment law case: $400 for a partner with nearly forty years of experience, $315 for an associate with nineteen years of experience, 29 '[e]vidence sufficient of to fee awards establish in the comparable prevailing cases market is generally- rates in the relevant community.'" (quoting Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock 376 Co. V. Additionally, Brown, the Court F.3d 245, looked at 251 cases (4th in Cir. which 2004))). courts have specifically approved Plaintiff's counsel's hourly rates. court in the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, found an hourly rate of $4 00 to be reasonable for Ms. an hourly rate of $575 to be reasonable 2014 FCRA class action lawsuit. & J. , James v. (E.D. Va. Experian Info. 2014). for Rotkis Decl. Sols., Additionally, Mr. No. The Mr. Rotkis and Bennett H 18; Final Order 3:12CV902, Bennett's in a at hourly 1 9(d) rate of $575 was again found to be reasonable in the Eastern District of Virginia, lawsuit. Richmond Division, Miller Decl. t 30, in another 34 2014 FCRA class action (asserting that Mr. Bennett's and $150 for a paralegal with extensive legal experience); Prison Legal News V. Stolle, 129 F. Supp. 3d 390, 403 (E.D. Va. 2015), affd. No. 15-2197, 2017 WL 888234 (4th Cir. Mar. 6, 2017) (authorizing in a constitutional law case in the Norfolk Division of the Court hourly rates of $400 for attorneys with over forty years of experience and $325 for an attorney with eighteen years of experience); Carr v. Rest Inn, Inc., No. 2:14-CV-609, 2015 WL 5177600, at *4 (E.D. Va. 2015) (finding in the Norfolk Division of the Court that an hourly rate of $275 and $310 would be reasonable for a lawyer who successfully resolved a Fair Labor Standards Act case); Two Men & A Truck/Int'l, Inc. v. A Mover Inc., 128 F. Supp. 3d 919, 927 (E.D. Va. 2015) (approving in the Norfolk Division of the Court in an intellectual property case hourly rates of $600 for a partner, $400 for an associate, and $250 for a paralegal); Lismont v. Alexander Binzel Corp., 47 F. Supp. 3d 443, 459 (E.D. Va. 2014) (authorizing in the Norfolk Division of the Court in a patent case hourly rates of $550 for an attorney who had practiced for thirty-eight years but only $170 for a first year associate) ; JTH Tax, Inc. v. Grabert, 8 F- Supp. 3d 731, 738 (E.D. Va. 2014) (finding in the Norfolk Division of the Court an hourly rate of $225 to be reasonable for a fifth-year associate acting as lead counsel in a case over promissory notes). 30 rate of $575 was reasonable in the case of Berry v. Risk & Info. Info. Analytics Grp., Analytics Grp., *15 {E.D. Va. 600 {4th Cir. that Mr. 2014), No. (approving had Berry v. 3:11CV754, aff'd sub nom. 2 015) Miller Inc., Inc.); recommended amount in his LexisNexis Risk & 2014 WL 4403524, Berry v. the LexisNexis Schulman, of at 807 F.3d attorney's declaration) . fees These court-approved hourly rates are lower than those that Plaintiff requests Ms. in the instant approved but now requests case: $475, Rotkis and Mr. $575 approved but now requests $625. reasonableness Johnson factor of Plaintiff's twelve, awarded in similar cases, $400 Bennett previously had Thus, requested having previously had in determining the hourly considered the rates under hourly rates and compared such rates to the hourly rates requested in this case,® the Court concludes that the rates awarded in similar cases weigh in favor of a lower attorney's fees award than Plaintiff has requested. ® The Court also notes that while this district spans a wide geographic area, at least one district in our circuit that spans a smaller geographic area has established by local court rule guidelines for presumptively reasonable hourly rates in attorney's fees petitions. While such rates are not necessarily indicative of the prevailing local market rate in this Court's jurisdiction, the Court notes that in the District of Maryland, the following are guidelines for reasonable hourly rates: "Lawyers admitted to the bar for fifteen (15) to nineteen (19) years: $275-425. Lawyers admitted to the bar for twenty (20) years or more: $300-475." Md. Fed. Ct. R. App. B(3). Finally, while helpful, "[t]hese rates are intended solely to provide practical guidance to lawyers and judges when requesting, challenging and awarding fees. . . . [T]here are attorneys for whom, and cases for which, the market rate differs from these guideline rates." Id. n.6. 31 Finally, with respect to Johnson factor nine, the Court considers the experience and reputation of each attorney. Bennett is a founding partner of Consumer Litigation Associates and provided oversight in the instant case. According to Mr. [Consumer Decl. cases H 23. He consumer-side H 21. Pittman, Litigation protection Mr. "[n]o other Associates] handled in describes consumer the law firm the in the number Eastern firm as protection Rotkis Decl. comes f close of 11. to consumer District." Pittman ''one of America's best litigation law firms." Id. According to Mr. Pittman, Mr. Bennett is a "trail blazer within the still relatively young consumer protection bar in the United States," id. H 24, and Mr. Miller asserts that Mr. Bennett is among "the most experienced FCRA class action lawyers in the United States," V. Se. (E.D. the Wholesale Va. 2014) Norfolk Miller Decl. Corp., No. (stating Division of per hour); settlement Division of with James, in a the that the Court 2014 compare Alexander WL 1165844, "prevailing market for consumer law at rate" *11 in attorneys experience was between $300 and $450 No. consumer Court 2;13CV213, the with thirty-five years of H 39(d); 3;12CV902, class after action discussing at f 9(d) lawsuit on the in (approving a the record Richmond that an hourly rate of $575 was reasonable for Mr. Bennett). The Ms. Court next Rotkis, considers the lead attorney in the 32 experience and reputation of instant case. Ms. Rotkis has twenty-one years represented clients and state of experience in courts. over Rotkis 300 as an consumer Decl. ^ 2, attorney law cases 4. She and in has federal periodically teaches continuing legal education classes on issues of consumer protection, such as litigation under FCRA, and is the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Pittman states became a that full-time he has known Ms. a member of Id. since Rotkis f 8-9. she Mr. first law clerk for the Honorable Dennis Dohnal, the Richmond Division of this court, Pittman Decl. t in 25, and has worked closely with her as co-counsel on cases since she joined Consumer Pittman, Litigation Ms. Associates, id. H 27. According to Mr. Rotkis is ''as bright as they come and fully capable of producing work at the speed and quality levels required both by the Rocket Litigation 2:13CV213, Docket and 2014 WL 1165844, high Id. Associates] the H at *11 caseload 29; see at [Consumer Alexander, (approving in the No. Norfolk Division of the Court an hourly rate of $390 as reasonable for a litigator who was ''well-reputed and 'highly qualified' in the field of consumer law"). The Court paralegal Ward "is a [of] in also the considers instant highly skilled, experience Virginia-Pilot as Media a the case. experience According of to Ms. Ms. Ward, Rotkis, a Ms. senior paralegal with over 27 years paralegal." Companies, 33 LLC Rotkis v. Dep't Decl. of H 13; see Justice, No. 2:14CV577, 2016 WL 4265742, at *5 (E.D. Va. reasonable an hourly rate of $155 for a years of Rotkis, experience most consumer of with Ms. work. Rotkis submitted entries for CCM, for the Leonard's and Ms. requested Pilot, No. hourly paralegal No. experience, while above reasons, the 13. Last, there are in in billing what qualifications Court rates, while $155 Ms. Ward's finds with over 2016 20 years of CCM's Mr. in favor of their experience experience. WL 4265742, 2017 WL 1158244, of that is more hourly rate awarded in Virginia-Pilot at *9 at *5; see Virginiaalso Crump, (authorizing $150 per hour qualifications, such the Court cannot determine a notwithstanding the absence Defendant to Plaintiff's requested rates, independent FCRA requires see Ms. Without any as education or reasonable hourly rate CCM. Thus, an H paralegal with extensive legal experience). description for to been exclusively is unclear who CCM is, 2:14CV577, 2:13CV707, for a has Rotkis's experience weighs consistent with the a as or how CMM's hourly rate is justified at $400 per hour. Therefore, for According Decl. documentation, (finding paralegal with over 20 firm) . experience Plaintiff's CCM has, law Ward's protection it the 2016) 15 U.S.C. evaluation of the § Court I68I0, the 34 "reasonable" Offer of a challenge by the Court must conduct such requested to award (2) of rates because attorney's Judgment states (1) fees, that Defendant will pay Plaintiff's ^^reasonable attorneys' fees . . . as determined by the Court/' Offer of J. , requested that the Court award Plaintiff in attorneys' fees" in responding to $85,644.3 9 in attorney's fees, and (3) ''not more than $5,000 Plaintiff's Def.'s Defendant Resp. Br. considered all of the relevant Johnson factors, request 16. for Having the Court finds the following hourly rates reasonable: Approved Rates Name Approved Rate Susan Rotkis $ 425 $ Len Bennett 575 "COM" $ 0 Vicki Ward (paralegal) $ 155 b. Reasonable Hours Having determined the reasonable hourly rates, the must next determine what hours were "reasonably expended" litigation. Hensley, should exclude not from 461 U.S. this at 434 initial 'reasonably expended.'" fee Court in the ("The district court also calculation hours (quoting S. Rep. No. that 94-1011, were p. 6 (1976))) . In analyzing the hours reasonably expended, the Court considers Johnson expended. Barber, 577 factor one, F.2d at 226 n.28. the It is time and labor the obligation of counsel to "maintain billing time records in a manner that will enable a 35 reviewing court to identify distinct claims." at 437. Thus, expended, the "inadequate." in determining Court reduces the Hensley, reasonable hours where time 461 U.S. and labor documentation is See id. at 434. Plaintiff has submitted billing records® and seeks compensation for the following hours expended in litigating this case; Requested Hours Hours Name Fee TOTAL LITIGATION PETITION Susan Rotkis Len 9.5^° 142 .7 Bennett 152 .2 8.3 8.3 ^^CCM" 2.2 2.2 Vicki Ward (paralegal) 25 25 See generally Billing Records at 17-24; Rotkis Decl. H 13. i. In Johnson analyzing factor the one. Mr. time Bennett and Plaintiff's labor hours billed work on the case appear well-documented, litigation, ^ The Court and reasonable. notes that Plaintiff expended for Mr. to Bennett's directly related to the As explained above, only according submitted billing Mr. Bennett is records for Ms. Rotkis, Mr. Bennett, and CCM. See generally Billing Records at 17-24, No billing records were submitted for the work alleged to have been done by Ms. Ward. As the Court concluded above, because the terms of the Offer of Judgment explicitly exclude attorney's fees subsequent to the date of the Offer of Judgment, Plaintiff is not entitled to the hours spent in preparation of the attorney's fees petition. 36 the CO-founding partner of law firm, and Pittman Decl. supervisory, is a the Consumer Litigation Associates specialist H 24. His in consumer involvement in the with only 8.3 hours billed. billing entries for Mr. Bennett, protection instant law. case was Having reviewed the the Court finds such hours to according to be reasonably spent. ii. In analyzing Johnson factor the one, time labor expended contained While detail and labor for were redacted some Ms. the billing Court to reasonable Rotkis's might be entries determine because information such entries expended directly related to the However, sufficient Rotkis the majority of appear well-documented, reasonable. Ms. or litigation, do the on a not that the block client the client is familiar with the progress of the work, and provide time billing constitute sufficient billed hours and records entries. bill where i t is not sufficient for an attorney's fees request such as this. (A) Because the Redacted Entries burden of demonstrating reasonable rests upon the fee applicant, to expect guidance that in applicant's identifying Baltimore Cty. , Hensley, the Md. , 461 U.S. 913 the time F.2d 113, at 437). 128 hours are ''the court is entitled records recoverable what will provide some hours." Buffington v. (4th Cir. 1990) (citing "Parties are generally entitled to 37 assert privilege and redact records in connection with motions for thereby relieved of of fees." fees proving but the Mellon V. 2015), a they are not reasonableness Bell, No. the 3:11CV1255, the See 2015 WL 778668, burden of Bank of at *2 (D. N.Y. Conn. A partial redaction of billing records does not prevent court from granting fees on the basis of the redacted records unless the thoroughly them.'" ''records redacted Id. WL 4298325, supporting that the the Court motion [can]not {quoting Home Funding Group, at *6 n,7 (D. Conn. that of 2009 WL 728462, Theodore at *1 Coates, (D. Kochmann, 2008 the Court notes See AIG Annuity Ins. P.C., No. 2009) Colo. review it conduct an in camera review of the redacted billing records, Law Offices 'so Without predicting how request that no such request was made here. been reasonably LLC v. 2008)). the Court would have ruled on a have {evaluating a Co. v. CIVA07CV01908-MSKMJW, request for the court to review attorney billing records in camera). In Plaintiff's submitted billing records, nine entries contain redacted information: Hours With Redacted Descriptions 10/23/2015 Requested Description Date Hours 1.5 1 J 10/24/2015 38 1.8 10/28/2015 0.5 docs from PNMC date 12/8 (2 letters) "missing essential information"; provided potential 12/10/2015 response; mortgage statement 0.5 11/13/2015 UNREADABLE document production -- impression th^^^^^| CRRG mortgage guidelines re: requirements for mortgage servicers (last four CRRGs); Review similar mortgage cases, 12/10/2015 2.3 III 1 1 1 III 1II 1 1IIII violations, inaccurate reporting confirmed, C/A under FCRA for accuracy and failure to investigate; No XB MTG LAB and VLW, review C/A, FCRA & 12/11/2015 1.0 mtg front office 12/11/2015 12/18/2015 (Viera) re: file maintenance for FCRA (CRAs & furnisher) 0.3 (two cases -- keep PNMC file (review Wells Fargo pmt history, PNMC responses, CRRG requirements for mortgage, all pmts sent to date, txn log, PNMC posts - 1.3 - research for compl against PNMC is there c/a for setting it up to look late) email from client with docs PNMC more problems w/escrow! Escrow analysis incorrect, to detriment of 1/31/2016 consumer^J^HH^^^^Hjjlljjl^^^^^^H 3.5 12.7 TOTAL Billing Records at 17-18. In reviewing following entries the "so redacted records, thoroughly 39 the redacted Court that finds the the Court [can]not reasonably review them"—October 23, 2015, October 28, Bell, No. 2015, October 24, 2015, December 11, 2015, and January 31, 2016. 3:11CV1255, 2015 WL 778668, entries is nearly entirely redacted, at *2. Each and thus of these the Court cannot determine whether the undisclosed actions were reasonable. V. Va. State Bd. of Elections, at *10 (E.D. Va. 2015) permit the Court No. 3:13CV678, 2015 WL 11256614, ("[V]ague or redacted time entries do not to weigh the hours claimed and exclude hours that were not 'reasonably expended.'" (quoting Guidry v. 442 2d 2006))). F. Supp. 282, Page 294 (E.D. Va. Clare, Therefore, the Court reduces Ms. Rotkis's hours by 8.3 hours to account for the redacted that entries remaining redacted counsel's work, the redacted activities the Court entries is offer unable some to evaluate. information The regarding but do not identify the amount of time spent on portion listed. and Thus, the amount of time on the other the Court will consider the remaining redacted entries in its' block billing analysis. (B) Block Billing Plaintiff's billing records include "block billing" entries which list spent on multiple each activities activity. without Guidry, 442 delineating F. Supp. the 2d time at ("Inadequate documentation includes the practice of grouping, 'lumping,' several tasks together under a single entry, 294 or without specifying the amount of time spent on each particular task."). 40 It is the records obligation in a of manner counsel that will identify distinct claims." of the obligation detail that are of disfavored Colvin, No. see Cable, at Sky *4 "lumping" court may 2014 LLC v. Va. warrants a No. with and *8 that reduction of often the the entries Faircloth 2014 Va. v. 2014); WL 4407130, "block total sufficient {E.D. 5:11CV00048, {noting Because billing cases. at to determine block award time court at 437. records review fees billing reviewing 461 U.S. WL 5488809, Coley, 2014) a activities, attorney's 2:13CV156, (W.D. enable Hensley, individual in "maintain to maintain billing the reasonableness to billing" fee award). or "The traditional remedy for block billing is to reduce the fee by a fixed percentage Corp. of Del., 2014), aff'd, No. For Jones 3;12CV443, 777 F.3d 658 Plaintiff's entries. reduction." billing example, v. 2014 WL 2993443, (4th Cir. records was activity a in Because the listed, it the cause the contain various on December complaint activity, action middle entry is of does of for the not 28, versus which time time Court is 41 *9 (E.D. Va. block billing counsel with a Billing Records times was was requests and researching whether complaint, attribute how much the a 2 015, entry. unclear how much at Interactive 2015). 1.3 hours for reviewing the "PNMC file" there Southpeak to spent spent unable each redacted at activity researching on to the 18. for redacted review for reasonableness. In another example, on August 26, 2016, acdv Ms. from Rotkis billed 3.8 hours for: PNMC -- potential automatic exclusion: no relevant time pd. , no policies & procedures, no evidence of investigation at all, no names of any witness (possible Noguiera and Rodgers from CRA disclosures) no evidence of what PNMC reported to CRAs, no record of payments in disputed month, no evidence of read/understanding of statute, no inofrmation [sic] how to read codes, abbreviations, no evidence re QWR Check possible dates for dep notices {if no response to request for dates) Billing efforts, Records a deposition at 20. This compensable task, dates, scheduling. a Directsat USA, 2016 WL 1077158, at *4 n.3 work includes transmitting Faircloth, it was of No. tasks documents 2:13CV156, improper to use counsel's non-compensable 2747, such lists research together with checking on possible largely See Butler v. entry (D. Md. as the and work LLC, 2016) No. related billing" to at *8 because compensable work with non-compensable work). task of CA DKC 10- ("Purely clerical downloading, 2014 WL 5488809, "block clerical printing, and scheduling."); (holding that it commingles Another example of block billing occurred on September 15, 2016: minor edits to P.O., correspondence to counsel re: depo dates, differentiate btw 30(b)(6) and 30(b)(1) witnesses, additional time to complete discovery by PNMC; settlement inquiry Billing Records 20. counsel edited a It appears that during this 1.3 hour entry, document and corresponded with counsel. both of these types of tasks may be compensable, 42 While the listing of multiple tasks in a single billing entry does not allow the Court to determine whether a reasonable amount of time was spent on each activity. Inc. , 128 futile F. for entries See Two Men & A Truck/Int'l, Supp. this into 3d 919, Court their to 2013 WL billing to block billing entries. "by a reducing amount" overall {quoting Guidry, Virginia Panel Corp., {"It separate would be these records, Va. the a 'block random Taylor, 2013))). No. Having Court will exercise Rotkis's hours by ten percent due Project Vote, fee 442 96 2015) v. A Mover and apportion[] {E.D. court may reduce a the to tasks *21 its discretion to reduce Ms. {noting that Va. {quoting Abusamhadaneh v. 193778, evaluated Plaintiff's (E.D. attempt constituent amount of time to each.'" 1:11CV939, 929 Inc. award F. F. fee Supp. Supp. 2d at 716 award for block billing by Supp. 887 F. a fixed percentage 2d at 294)); 3d 573, 583 or see Lusk v. {W.D. Va. 2015) (reducing fee award by five percent to account for counsel's use of block billing). iii. The submitted Court finds that documentation reasonableness of Ms. to Ward's Ms. Ward Plaintiff allow the work. has not Court to Hensley, 461 sufficiently evaluate U.S. at the 437 (requiring counsel to "maintain billing time records in a manner that will enable a reviewing 43 court to identify distinct claims"). Ward, Plaintiff did not submit any billing records for Ms. stating only that: Vicki Ward is a highly skilled, senior paralegal with over 27 years [of] experience as a paralegal, most of that experience has been dedicated exclusively to consumer protection work. Depending on the task, Ms. Ward tracks her time and we charge an hourly rate of $200 for her work. In this case, she has provided 25 hours of substantive work in drafting and editing the complaint, maintaining and organizing the client's documents; drafting and editing discovery; scheduling and re-scheduling depositions and court reporters; receiving, reviewing and organizing the Defendant's documents and discovery responses; receiving, reviewing and drafting responses to the Defendant's discovery to Plaintiff; communicating with the client. Rotkis Decl. H 13. While case, Ms. Ward undoubtedly assisted Ms. Rotkis in this the above description of Ms. Ward's twenty-five hours does not provide the Court with sufficient detail to determine which hours were reasonably spent on this litigation. Council 1993) of Greater Wash, Landow, 999 F.2d 92, 97 (requiring that for an award of attorney's fees, "must make every specifically "records that v. See Fair Hous. request) allocate should the effort court the attempt may to time to spent the Lusk, 96 F. much time on what 44 claim" describe Supp. for block billing because i t was spent each the of 3d at 583 Cir. applicant records reasonableness hours was time on specifically determine (emphasis added); submit (4th which and such work" the so fee (reducing "impossible to tell how particular task in order to determine if the time spent was reasonable"). such as Moreover, actions "maintaining and organizing the client's documents" or "scheduling and re-scheduling depositions and court reporters," constitute "purely clerical" at a paralegal rate, which 128 F. 2747, WL 1077158, Supp. 3d at 929; see Butler, at n.3 {considering *4 scheduling and document management as Therefore, the "should not be billed regardless of who performs them." & A Truck, 2016 work, Court reduces No. Two Men CA DKC 10- tasks such as "purely clerical work"). Plaintiff's attorney's fees award by the 25 hours that Plaintiff requested for Ms. Ward. iv. Finally, the Court finds sufficiently submitted evaluate the reasonableness of Hensley, 461 U.S. records that unclear who at list CCM that documentation 437. work is, "CCM" what allow to has Court the worked performed by While done Plaintiff by Plaintiff CCM, as qualifications CCM has, spent by CCM CCM, were the Court cannot reasonable. determine Because the See it and why is the Without any that Court to billing above, work that CCM did was necessary to this litigation. description of "CCM." submitted noted not the must hours reduce Plaintiff's requested hours where documentation is "inadequate," id. at 434, the Court reduces Plaintiff's attorney's fees award by the 2.2 hours that Plaintiff requested for CCM. 45 V. Reasonable Hours Summary Having reviewed Plaintiff's considered Johnson factor one, Court finds that its' adjustment Robins Co. , abuses its to obligation Inc. , the 86 hours F.3d discretion if considering the factors Barber, 577 following eliminate F.2d at hours that to award "reasonable" Plaintiff 364, an 373 (4th a The Cir. fee the Plaintiff Court hours has reasonably billed in this case. fees re {"A without therefore to A.H. court carefully {citing makes in order demonstrate the to were See McDonald ex rel Prendergast V. Pension Plan of the NYSA-ILA Pension Trust Fund, 96 (2d Cir. 2006) In 1996) requested failed the requires some degree relevant to fair compensation." to and attorney's requested. allows it 226)). adjustments documents the time and labor expended, only to the extent that i t is of submitted 450 F.3d 91, ("A district court may exercise its discretion and use a percentage deduction as a practical means of trimming fat from a fee application.")(internal citations omitted). Plaintiff submitted eight pages reflecting counsel's work in this case. 24. Having reviewed the billing of billing records See Billing Records 17- records^^ and supporting The Court notes that Plaintiff's billing records contain mathematical errors. For example, billing records indicate that, on November 10, 2016, Ms. Rotkis spent 1.3 hours planning for a settlement conference, billing at an hourly rate of $475. Billing Records at 21. The billing records list the total for this line entry as $593.75. Id. However, 1.3 hours multiplied by a $475 hourly rate results in a fee of $617.50. Had Ms. Rotkis only billed 46 documentation, the Court sufficient evidence appropriate as to to Mr. Plaintiff has not that fee award any However, fact the that detailed. Rotkis's and block Therefore, account hours billing as failed to the redacted to Ms. due to 461 that the recognizes the following that demonstrate or for CCM. despite the thorough that all redacted U.S. Court and of Ms. entries at 434. is unable to Rotkis's remaining hours by ten percent to account for block billing entries. Court finds is Rotkis's hours by 8.3 hours to entries evaluate and further reduces Ms. Ward generally Hens ley, the Court reduces Ms. for evidence award but demonstrate ''reasonable" submitted fee Rotkis, for are entries. a has explained above, records are that sufficient that, billing has Plaintiff and Ms. appropriate finds Plaintiff claimed Bennett is that demonstrate submitted Court the finds hours as Accordingly, reasonably spent the by Plaintiff in this litigation: 1.25 hours, the total line entry of $593.75 would be accurate. This is one example of fourteen such errors contained on a single page of the submitted billing records. Id. The Court observes that, with respect to each of these referenced entries, the mathematical discrepancy represents a 0.05 hour increase in each entry as to the number of hours requested. It is unclear to the Court what caused these mathematical errors. used the hours listed, fees on this basis, and makes no adjustments this discrepancy Therefore, to further the while the Court requested attorney's supports the determination above to reduce Ms. Rotkis's hours for block billing. 47 Court's Hours Name Litigation Fee Petition Total Hours Susan Rotkis 121 0 121 Len Bennett 8.3 0 8.3 COM 0 0 0 Vicki Ward (paralegal) 0 0 0 c. Lodestar Siommary Based analysis Court's upon the outlined reasonable above, the lodestar calculation, hours and following which is reasonable table the rate reflects the beginning point for an attorney's fees award prior to any adjustments in step two or three of the required analysis. Hotos Rate Awarded Awarded 121 $ 425 $ 51,425.00 8.3 $ 575 $ 4,772.50 Name Susan Rotkis Len Bennett Total COM 0 $ 0 $ 0.00 Vicki Ward (paralegal) 0 $ 155 $ 0.00 $ 56,197.50 TOTAL Lodestar Figure 2. Adjustment for Unsuccessful Unrelated Claims After a lodestar determine whether the figure fee is calculated, award should be the reduced to Court must reflect the time counsel spent on unsuccessful claims that are unrelated to the successful plaintiff's claims. claims are Robinson, based on 48 560 F.3d at different 244. "Where facts and the legal theories, and the plaintiff has prevailed on only some of those claims, . . . these unrelated claims [must] they had been raised in separate lawsuits, may be awarded for services State Teachers Ass'n v. 789 (1989) . but not facts, However, others and on the the treated as if and therefore no fee unsuccessful Garland Indep. when a be Sch. claim." Dist., Tex. 489 U.S. 782, plaintiff prevails on some issues claims arise "out of a common core of and involve related legal theories," a district court may exercise its discretion to arrive at a reasonable fee award, "either by attempting to identify specific hours that should be eliminated or by simply reducing the limited success of the plaintiff." Here, the while lodestar ($5,000) Defendant figure to account for the Id. at 789-90. argues because award that the Plaintiff Court should reduce "settled for a sum that was far less than the amount he sought," Defendant does not argue that Plaintiff was unsuccessful on either claim against Defendant. specific U.S.C. § claims Def.'s Resp. against 1681S-2 (b) (1) (A) investigate" Plaintiff's Br. Defendant: "by all relevant agencies," id. 91. Count disputes provided Pursuant 49 Six-violation to fully regarding id. 70, § 1681S-2 (b) (1) (B) information ^ Plaintiff alleged two failing reporting of his mortgage payment, violation of 15 U.S.C. 6. by to the 15 properly inaccurate and Count Seven- ''by failing to review the the and of consumer Offer of reporting Judgment, Defendant action Offer allowed as to of ''judgment all J. claims (emphasis to be asserted added). taken against against Thus, it it by because no overall to the and analysis adjustment on to moves lodestar figure considering this Plaintiff." Plaintiff successful on both claims asserted against Defendant, makes in at the Court this Plaintiff's was stage of degree of award is success. 3. Adjustment for Degree of Success The final step in determining a reasonable fee adjusting the lodestar figure to take into account the '''degree of success enjoyed by the plaintiff" on his successful claims. Grissom, 549 F.3d at 321 (quoting Johnson, 278 F.3d at 337). The "most critical factor" in evaluating the reasonableness of a fee of U.S. award "is at 436; (internal the degree success see also Farrar v. quotation marks Hobby, omitted) obtained." Hensley, 506 U.S. 103, 114 ("[T]he degree 461 (1992) of the plaintiff's overall success goes to the reasonableness of a fee award."). When a success," the fact raised the that in plaintiff achieves only lodestar figure all good claims faith." were may be excessive notwithstanding "interrelated, Hensley, determining Plaintiff's degree of Johnson factor eight; "partial or limited 461 success, nonfrivolous, U.S. at the Court 43 6. and In considers the "amount in controversy and the results 50 obtained.McAfee, extent of the relief amount of damages (quoting 738 Mercer F.3d at 89. obtained, [the v. Duke Univ. , Finally, while degree of success, client Va. proportional recovered Assocs. , in P.L.L.C. , 2007) the 401 an attorney's directly court] must compare sought to the amount awarded." 2005)). be " [W] hen considering the ("Courts to the No. Court legal Cir. Plaintiff's award is not required to of action. damages Croy v. 2007 WL 676698, repeatedly 92-93 (4th 204 at consider amount 5:06CV00107, have 199, must fees the F.3d Id. the held that that E. at the Hall *3 & (W.D. proportionality between a consumer's recovery and the attorney's fees to be paid is not required in every action brought under the Consumer Credit Protection Act statutes such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act."). Defendant argues that "the Court should reduce the lodestar because [Plaintiff] settled for a than the amount he sought." Defendant, which is damages damages Plaintiff an amount [Plaintiff] [Plaintiff] is that ($5,000) Def.'s Resp. entitled is sum to "not "consistent obtained in this Br. that was far less 6. more with case sought throughout this case the According to than ratio ($5,000) $5,000," of to the the ($120,000)," id. The Court notes that the consideration of Plaintiff's degree of success was not subsumed within the prior analysis determining the lodestar figure, but is considered in the adjustment to the lodestar figure. See McAfee, 738 F.3d at 89-90. 51 at 16. While Plaintiff did not demand a specific dollar amount in complaint. his Plaintiff requested relief in the actual damages, statutory damages, attorney's fees, specific performance and injunctive relief, "such other relief f 99. the Court deems the Defendant case for responded $120,000,^^ with a reducing Plaintiff's $119,000, for costs and just and proper." and Compl. later. $5,000. Not. of Plaintiff's percent his of Acceptance Defendant's recovery initial counteroffer 10, of 2016, settlement. demand from $120,000 settlement range." accepted financial November "[w]e will not counter a reasonable Plaintiff on Plaintiff's counsel responded by settlement but explaining that is outside of a and $5,000 Emails Between Counsel at 15. weeks of Plaintiff initially indicated that he would be willing to settle that punitive damages, form Defendant's of is R. a settlement proportionality argument, 68 Offer little In Plaintiff "enjoyed complete success in this case" of more demand. response Id. Offer of to Three Judgment J. Thus, than four response argues that to he because he prevailed on both of his legal claims and further argues that attorney's fees are not required recovered, See McAfee, to especially be proportional in 738 F,3d at 90 a ("[A] consumer to the amount protection district court case Plaintiff such as 'has discretion to consider settlement negotiations in determining the reasonableness of fees but i t is not required to do so.'" {quoting Thomas v. Nat'l Football League Players Ass'n, 273 F.3d 1124, 1130 n.9 (B.C. Cir. 52 2001))). this. PI.'s Opening Br. 11-12. In evaluating Johnson controversy and the factor eight, results obtained," the McAfee, 738 the Court considers that while Plaintiff is a under FCRA in that he achieved complete "amount in F.3d at 89, successful party legal vindication on both of his claims against Defendant via the Offer of Judgment, Plaintiff's over monetary four recovery percent) Nevertheless, the protection case, of percent) would requiring rejected 2016, the to be that the amount of proportionality No. fraction settlement this of was (just demand. a 5:06CV00107, $5,000 subsequently the in case for consumer of cases is settlement low, would at *3. of additional as protection Plaintiff offer "such fees consumer that four typically 2007 WL 676698, an (nearly attorneys considers incurred recovery because enforcement nevertheless Defendant's and notes monetary value Croy, Court small initial appropriate vigorous statutes." The not direct discourage a and therefore an attorney's fees award that is proportional where only his Court directly this, is cursorily November $23,303.50 10, in legal fees before ultimately accepting Defendant's $5,000 Offer of Judgment (rejecting on November Defendant's 30, 2016. $5,000 See Emails settlement after receiving the email); 2d Rotkis Decl. the Court views with some skepticism 53 Between Counsel offer seven 2-3. Defendant's minutes Thus, while request that Plaintiff be awarded less than $5,000 in attorney's fees based upon Plaintiff's degree of success between the amount of damages sought and reduction the in amount the of lodestar damages figure obtained, is some required, amount though not of to extent that Defendant requested. Considering all of the above, the Court concludes that a 40% reduction in attorney's fees is appropriate in this case to reflect Plaintiff's tangible victory by succeeding on the merits of both of his claims through the accepted Offer of Judgment, while also taking into account the minimal financial award that Plaintiff Hens ley, accepted 461 U.S. rule or formula" but the court attorney's in at 436-37 of simply award in his initial (noting that for reducing a "may fees light case the is demand. " [t] here is no precise fee award for a reduce this settlement lack of success award"). therefore The total reduced from Plaintiff also $56,197.50 to $33,718.50. C. Costs In addition to reasonable attorney's fees, requests that the Court award his costs pursuant to the Offer of Judgment. of this Mot. award for Award of Att'y Fees of costs. Plaintiff records for "expenses": 54 & Costs 1. produced In support counsel's billing Date Activity EE 05/02/2016 11/29/2016 Description Filing Fee SR Line Qty. Cost Total 400.00 1.0 400.00 65.86 1.0 65.86 3,232 .28 1.0 3,232.28 Federal SR Express Maxene Weinberg (Depositions of 11/30/2016 Noguiera, Clark, Depos SR court reporter £e videoconference 10/18/2016; 1/30/2016) Expense Total: $3,698.14 Billing Records at that there "[b]ecause 22. In her declaration, were four Ms. stated [Defendant] defendants, Rotkis should only be responsible for one quarter of the filing fee, or $100," reducing the total cost attributable to Defendant to $3,398.14. Rotkis Decl. H 45. Plaintiff did not attach any invoices or receipts for these expenses to Plaintiff's request for costs. Pursuant "serve on to an a Rule opposing 68 Offer of party an Judgment, offer to (emphasis added). In order for the defendant may allow specified terms, with the costs then accrued." 68(a) a judgment Fed. R. Court to Civ. P. tax against the Defendant, Local Rule 54(D) states; The party entitled to costs shall file a bill of costs as provided in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1920 and 1924 within eleven (11) days from the entry of judgment, unless such time is extended by order of the Court. Such bill of costs shall distinctly set forth each item thereof so that the nature of the charge can be readily understood. An itemization and documentation for requested costs in all categories shall be attached to the cost bill. Costs will be documentation is not provided. 55 disallowed if on proper costs E.D. Va. Log. Civ. R. 54(D) (emphasis added). " [T] he law is clear that no litigation costs should be awarded in the absence of adequate documentation." Trimper, district that court's Expenses,' CIV. that to award SAG10752, merely "[w]ith "an litigation supporting receipts," is Fernandes 2013 WL 6330705, listing no costs); at *1 v. (D. expenses documentation, insufficient (affirming a unverified with no receipts or bills attached" documentation No. holding 58 F.3d at 77 Md. Cty. , 2013) (holding billing such records, as to of was insufficient Montgomery in documentation 'Chart vouchers, allow a or court to verify that the amounts are accurate and reasonable). Here, as part of Plaintiff's initial filing of his case, he submitted his See Compl. receipt Ex. 3, the Court finds of the filing Defendant the is Court for $400.00 for Filing Fee Receipt, the "civil ECF No. filing 1-3. fee." Therefore, that there is adequate documentation of payment fee, and pursuant attributable AWARDS $100,00. As to because Plaintiff costs with one for the Plaintiff's has not to Plaintiff's quarter of filing fee remaining provided statement the in filing the requests invoices or that fee, amount for of costs, receipts for these expenses, the Court is unable to determine if the expenses are costs. taxable as accordance with disallowed if Trimper, Local proper Rule 58 54(D) documentation 56 F.3d at 77. directing is not Therefore, that provided, costs E.D. in be Va. Log. Civ. R. 54(D), the Court DENIES all of Plaintiff's remaining requests for costs. IV. As explained above, "lodestar analysis," Barber, to 577 the has Court the "degree 461 U.S. at 436, of success total requested overall Plaintiff's motion by degree for the required the Johnson factors, lodestar figure achieved" by Plaintiff, and has evaluated the costs requested. downward adjustment Plaintiff's performed has adjusted the After making a hours has considered all of F.2d at 226 n.28, reflect Hensley, Conclusion to the hourly rates and the Plaintiff, of attorney's and success, fees adjusting the and Court costs, for GRANTS and hereby AWARDS attorney's fees to Plaintiff in the amount of $33,718.50, and AWARDS DENIES Court costs all other DISMISSES to Plaintiff in the requested costs. as MOOT supplemental authority. ECF Plaintiff's ECF No. to IT all IS SO counsel of of No. for but Finally, 43. motion $100.00, the leave to file 56. The Clerk is REQUESTED to send a Order amount copy of this Opinion and record. ORDERED. /s Mark S. UNITED Norfolk, Virginia May _, 2017 57 STATES Davis DISTRICT JUDGE

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