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Breidenbach v. Experian

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 11, 2013

BRIDGET BREIDENBACH, Plaintiff,
v.
EXPERIAN et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES (ECF NO. 53)

GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court in this Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case is Plaintiff's motion for a determination of reasonable attorney fees following her acceptance of defendant MRS BPO, LLC's offer of judgment pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 53.) Given Plaintiff and MRS's agreement that Plaintiff is entitled to attorney fees pursuant to the accepted offer of judgment, the only issue to be determined is the reasonable amount of attorney fees Plaintiff is to be awarded.

Plaintiff's motion has been fully briefed. (ECF Nos. 57, 59.) The Court finds Plaintiff's motion suitable for disposition without oral argument. See CivLR 7.1.d.1. Having considered the parties' submissions and applicable law, and for the reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT IN PART Plaintiff's motion and award Plaintiff $5, 079.00 in reasonable attorney fees.

BACKGROUND

On July 3, 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint, alleging various claims related to the collection of an alleged student loan debt. (ECF No. 1.) On August 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed her currently operative First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), asserting claims for (1) violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), (2) violations of California's Rosenthal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act ("Rosenthal Act"), (3) violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), (4) violations of California's Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act ("CCRAA"), (5) violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"), and (6) negligence per se. (ECF No. 4.) Plaintiff asserted all six causes of action against MRS.

On October 12, 2012, MRS filed an answer to Plaintiff's FAC. (ECF No. 23.) On December 3, 2012, MRS served an offer of judgment on Plaintiff, which Plaintiff did not accept within the time allotted by Rule 68. Thereafter, on or about January 5, 2013, MRS served its discovery requests on Plaintiff. In response, Plaintiff accepted the offer of judgment. After MRS either reissued the offer or waived any objection to Plaintiff's untimely acceptance, Plaintiff accepted the offer of judgment.

MRS offered Plaintiff "statutory and actual damages in the total amount of $1, 001.00 (one thousand and one dollars) in connection with all claims asserted in Plaintiff's operative Complaint." (ECF No. 47 at 4.)

With regard to attorney fees, the offer provides:

The Judgment entered shall also include an amount for reasonable costs and attorney's fees accrued through December 3, 2012, the date of Defendant's Initial Offer of Judgment. Reasonable costs and attorney fees are to be agreed upon by the parties, or, if the parties are unable to agree, to be determined by the Court on application by Plaintiff subject to the limitation that costs and attorney fees are cut off as of the date of Defendant's initial Offer of Judgment, December 3, 2012.

( Id. (emphasis in original).)

After Plaintiff filed her notice of acceptance of MRS's Rule 68 offer, Magistrate Judge Major noted the parties still needed to agree on "reasonable costs and attorney fees, " and thus instructed the parties "to file a notice stating that the parties have agreed on reasonable costs and attorney's fees or a motion requesting such costs and fees on or before February 1, 2013." (ECF No. 48 at 1 (emphasis in original).) The parties were ultimately unable to agree on reasonable attorney fees, and thus Plaintiff untimely filed the instant motion on February 4, 2013.

Plaintiff seeks a total of $18, 257 for seventy hours of work done by three attorneys: Michael L. Crowley, Andre L. Verdun, and Eric A. LaGuardia. The $18, 257 figure represents a 40% discount on the total fees incurred by Verdun and LaGuardia. Thus, broken down, Plaintiff seeks the following fees:

Hours Fee/Hour Discount Total Request Crowley 2 $550 0% $1, 100 Verdun 33 $350 40% $7, 437 LaGuardia 35 ...


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