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Carpenters Pension Trust Fund For Northern California, et al. v. Mark Alan Lindquist

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


September 29, 2011

CARPENTERS PENSION TRUST FUND FOR NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, ET AL.
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MARK ALAN LINDQUIST, DEFENDANT.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES 8

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the court is a Motion for Attorney's Fees filed by Plaintiffs Board of Trustees of the Carpenters Pension Trust 18 Fund for Northern California, et al. ("Plaintiffs"), against 19 Defendant Mark Alan Lindquist ("Defendant"). ECF No. 50 20 ("Mot."). Defendant did not file an Opposition. 21

II. BACKGROUND

This action arises from Plaintiffs' efforts to recover 24 withdrawal liability from Defendant under the Employee 25 Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"). On July 19, 2011, the 26 Court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The 27 Court held that, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1451(b), Plaintiffs 28 were entitled to $954,508.00 in unpaid principal withdrawal liability, $95,450.80 in liquidated damages, applicable interest 2 in an amount to be determined, and attorney's fees and costs. 3

Id. at 17. The Court granted Plaintiffs thirty days to file a 4 motion for attorneys' fees and costs. Id. On August 11, 2011, 5 Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion requesting attorney's fees 6 in the amount of $51,825.00 and costs in the amount of $515.58.

Mot. at 2. On August 12, 2011, Defendant appealed the grant of 8 summary judgment against him. ECF No. 52 ("Not. of Appeal."). 9 10 be reasonable and GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion. The Court STAYS this Order until Defendant's appeal is resolved.

Under ERISA, the award of reasonable attorney's fees and 15 costs to a pension plan is mandatory in all actions to collect 16 unpaid employer withdrawal liabilities. Lads Trucking Co. v. 17 F.2d 1371, 1373-75 (9th Cir. 1985). To calculate reasonable 19 attorney's fees in such an action, district courts utilize a 20 two-step "hybrid lodestar/multiplier" approach. Welch v. 21 First, the court establishes a lodestar by multiplying the 23 number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by a 24 reasonable hourly rate. Id. In determining a reasonable hourly 25 rate, the court should consider "the experience, skill, and 26 reputation of the attorney requesting fees." Id. at 946. The 27 party seeking fees bears the burden of documenting the hours 28 expended in the litigation and must submit evidence supporting For the following reasons, the Court finds these amounts to

III. LEGAL STANDARD 14

Board of Trustees, W. Conf. Teamsters Pension Trust Fund, 777 18 Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 942, 945 (9th Cir. 2007).

those hours and the rates claimed. Second, in "rare and 2 exceptional cases," the district court may adjust the lodestar 3 upward or downward using a multiplier based on facts not 4 subsumed in the initial lodestar calculation. Id. 5 6

Plaintiffs' counsel have submitted detailed billing records 8 demonstrating that they spent 222.8 hours litigating the instant 9 case. ECF Nos. 50-1 ("McDonough Decl."), 50-2 ("Billing attending case management conferences, conferring with 12

IV. DISCUSSION

Records"). These hours comprise time spent preparing pleadings, Defendant, propounding requests for admissions and requests for 13 production of documents, taking Defendant's deposition, 14 preparing the motion for summary judgment, and preparing the 15 instant Motion. McDonough Decl. ¶ 8; Billing Records.

Plaintiffs have provided an itemized accounting of the number of 17 hours spent on each task. Id. The Court finds the hours to 18 have been reasonably expended on this litigation.

20 and $275 for attorney time and $115 for paralegal time.

McDonough Decl. ¶¶ 4, 9. Counsel attest that the hourly fees 22 charged for this litigation are consistent with prevailing 23 market rates for litigation involving union-sponsored benefit 24 funds. Id. ¶ 6. A court can rely on the declaration of the 25 plan's attorney regarding the prevailing fees in the community. 26

Employees of Asarco, Inc., 512 F.3d 555, 565 (9th Cir. 2008).

The rates charged are also in accord with rates approved in Plaintiffs' counsel charged an hourly rate of between $225 United Steelworkers v. Retirement Income Plan for Hourly-Rated comparable cases in this district. See, e.g., Bd. of Trustees 2 of the Boilermaker Vacation Trust v. Skelly, Inc., 389 F.Supp.2d 3 1222, 1227-1228 (N.D. Cal. 2005) (finding attorney rates of $210 4 per hour and $345 per hour to be reasonable in an ERISA action 5 seeking payment of delinquent contributions). Therefore, the 6 Court finds Plaintiffs' counsel's hourly rates to be reasonable.

The Court finds no rare or exceptional circumstances that 8 warrant adjusting the fee award in this case upward or downward. 9

Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs are entitled to 10 recover a lodestar amount of $51,825.00.

Plaintiffs have also submitted billing records showing that they incurred $515.58 in costs of delivering pleadings and other 13 documents to this Court. McDonough Decl. at ¶ 12; Billing Records. Plaintiffs are entitled to recover these delivery 15 costs as part of their reasonable attorney's fees. Trustees of 16 the Construction Industry and Laborers Health and Welfare Trust 17 v. Redland Ins. Co., 460 F.3d 1253, 1257 (9th Cir. 2006).

Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs are entitled to 19 recover a total sum of $52,340.58.

V. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS the Motion for Attorney's Fees filed by Plaintiffs Board of Trustees of the 4 Carpenters Pension Trust Fund for Northern California, et al. 5 against Defendant Mark Alan Lindquist in the amount of 6 3 $52,340.58. This Order is hereby STAYED until the Ninth Circuit 7 rules on Defendant's appeal and returns the case to this Court's 8 jurisdiction.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

20110929

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