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Karen Crane-Mcnab, Bert Crane, Sms and Mary v. County of Merced

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


May 13, 2011

KAREN CRANE-MCNAB, BERT CRANE, SMS AND MARY CRANE COUCHMAN, INDIVIDUALS, KAREN CRANE-MCNAB, LLC; BERT CRANE
RE: SUPPLEMENTAL ORCHARDS, L.P.; MARY CRANE ATTORNEY'S FEES COUCHMAN TRUST; AND MARY CRANE COUCHMAN FAMILY PARTNERSHIP, L.P., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COUNTY OF MERCED, AND DOES 1 TO 20, DEFENDANTS.

ORDER

On April 27, 2011, the court granted defendant's motion for attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. (Docket No. 227.) The court instructed defendant to file a supplemental declaration detailing its fees incurred after the filing of that and the other post-trial motions. Defendant has provided the required information (Docket Nos. 230, 231), which totals 63.75 hours for Mr. Matzkind and 101 hours for Mr. Stone. Plaintiffs object that the hours spent were "inflated"; however, after carefully reviewing the documents and considering the complexity of the post-trial motions, the court finds that the hours spent were reasonable under Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). The court will award fees at the hourly rates determined in its April 27, 2011, Order: $325.00 per hour for Mr. Matzkind and $250.00 per hour for Mr. Stone.

Plaintiffs also argue that defendant should not recover fees spent on defendant's Rule 11 and Rule 52(b) motions. In its Order on the parties' post-trial motions, the court declined to address defendant's Rule 11 motion because it granted attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 instead. (Apr. 27, 2011, Order at 28 n.9 (Docket No. 227).) However, defendant's Rule 11 motion, which defendant served on plaintiffs on September 17, 2010, prompted plaintiffs to withdraw six of the seventeen allegations to which defendant objected. (Def.'s Reply to Opp'n to Mot. for Rule 11 Sanctions at 3:10-12 (Docket No. 222).) The motion thus achieved some of its intended effect, and defendant reasonably continued to litigate the remaining issues in the motion as part of its successful defense against what it believed were improper allegations. Similarly, while the court denied defendant's Rule 52(b) motion, defendant reasonably believed the motion was necessary to its successful defense of the case by properly preserving the record for appeal.

"[T]he failure to prevail on any particular issue or motion does not necessarily prevent a litigant from receiving fees for work associated with that issue or motion." S.A. v. Patterson Joint Unified Sch. Dist., No. 1:10-cv-00943 OWW SKO, 2010 WL 3069204, at *9 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 2, 2010). Because the post-trial motions were associated with defendant's successful defense of the action and defendant believed they were reasonably necessary to achieve the results obtained, the court will allow recovery of fees for those motions. See id. (citing Brandon E. v. Dep't of Educ., No. CV 07-00536, 2008 WL 4602533, at *8 (D. Haw. Oct. 16, 2008) (finding time spent on unsuccessful Rule 11 issue was reasonably necessary to achieve the result obtained and was compensable)).

Accordingly, the court will award defendant additional fees for the following hours:

Name Hours Hourly Rate Lodestar Amt.

Matzkind 63.75 $325.00 $20,718.75 Stone 101 $250.00 $25,250.00 TOTAL 164.75 $45,968.75 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that, in addition to those fees awarded in the court's Order of April 27, 2011 (Docket No. 227), defendant is awarded fees of $45,968.75.

20110513

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