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Elaine andrews, et al v. Lawrence Livermore National Security

January 18, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Claudia Wilken United States District Judge


Previously the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion to remand and their request for costs and attorneys' fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 13 § 1447(c). Docket No. 33. However, the Court deferred ruling on 14 the amount of costs and fees awarded, pending the submission of 15 further briefing and documentation. Having considered all of the 16 parties' submissions, the Court awards Plaintiffs $39,624 in fees. 17 18


Title 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) provides that, on granting a motion 20 to remand, the court may order the defendant to pay the plaintiff 21 its "just costs and any actual expenses, including attorney fees, 22 incurred as a result of the removal." In this circuit, courts 23 calculate an award of attorneys' fees using the lodestar method, 24 whereby the court multiplies "the number of hours the prevailing 25 party reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly 26 27 rate." Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 978 (9th 28 Cir. 2008). The party seeking an award of attorneys' fees bears the burden of producing "satisfactory evidence--in addition to the 2 attorney's own affidavits--that the requested rates are in line 3 with those prevailing in the community for similar services by 4 lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and 5 reputation." Id. at 980. Attorneys' fees must be awarded "in 6 line with the prevailing market rate of the relevant community."

Carson v. Billings Police Dep't., 470 F.3d 889, 891 (9th Cir. 2006). Generally, "the relevant community is the forum in which 10 the district court sits." Camacho, 523 F.3d at 979.

Reasonable hours expended on a case are hours that are not "'excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.'" McCown v. 13 City of Fontana, 565 F.3d 1097, 1102 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting 14 Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983)). Although the 15 lodestar amount is presumptively reasonable, courts may adjust the 16 17 lodestar amount considering the time and labor required, the 18 novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, the skill 19 requisite to perform the legal service properly, whether the fee 20 is fixed or contingent, the amount involved, the results obtained, 21 counsel's experience, reputation, and ability, and awards in 22 similar cases. See Ballen v. City of Redmond, 466 F.3d 736, 746 23 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal citations and quotations omitted). 24 25

United States District Court For the Northern District of California

In their initial request for fees and costs, Plaintiffs sought $52,207.50. The Court found lacking Plaintiffs' 27 documentation in support of the hourly rate for two of their 28 attorneys. It also appeared that the number of hours of service indicated in the request was excessive in light of Plaintiffs' 2 fifteen page motion to remand and fourteen page reply brief. The 3 Court ordered Plaintiffs to submit supplemental briefing, 4 contemporaneous billing records and an explanation of the number 5 of hours of service required to complete their motion to remand. 6 In their supplemental briefing, Plaintiffs request $76,419.00 in attorneys' fees and costs. To support their amended request, Plaintiffs submitted declarations by the three attorneys 10 assigned to the motion--J. Gary Gwilliam, a senior, founding partner at Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, P.C., the 12 firm representing Plaintiffs, Robert E. Strauss, also a partner in the firm, and Robert J. Schwartz, a contract attorney, whose 14 services were utilized by the firm.

are reasonable.

20 years, requests an hourly rate of $750. This rate for Gwilliam 21 has been approved in prior litigation and is consistent with the 22 prevailing market rate in this district for similarly experienced 23 and skilled attorneys. See, e.g., Canal v. Dann, 2011 WL 3903166, 24

A. Reasonable Rates

The hourly rates requested by Plaintiffs for their attorneys

Gwilliam, who has practiced civil litigation for over thirty

*2-4 (N.D. Cal.) (approving a $700 hourly rate for a similarly experienced attorney, and noting evidence of a $785 hourly rate 27 charged by a senior partner at a plaintiffs' firm who has earned 28 ...

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