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Strong v. Walgreen Co.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 10, 2013

MATTHEW STRONG, Plaintiff,
v.
WALGREEN CO., doing business as Walgreens; and RUDOLPH BRAGG, Trustee of the Bragg Family Trust, Defendants.

ORDER

WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.

The matters before the Court are (1) the Motion for Attorneys' Fees, Litigation Expenses, Expert Costs, and Sanctions Against Plaintiff's Counsel filed by Defendants Walgreen Co. ("Walgreens") and Rudolph Bragg, Trustee of the Bragg Family Trust, dated April 22, 1982 (ECF No. 132); and (2) the Motion to Review and Re-Tax Costs filed by Plaintiff Matt Strong (ECF No. 139).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 25, 2009, Plaintiff Matt Strong initiated this action by filing a complaint against Walgreens and Rudolf Bragg, Trustee of the Bragg Family Trust (collectively "Defendants"). (ECF No. 1).

On April 28, 2011, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint against Defendants. (ECF No. 64). The First Amended Complaint alleged that the Walgreens store located at 215 North 2nd Street in El Cajon, California was not fully accessible to him because of architectural barriers. Id. at 2, 7. The First Amended Complaint alleged claims for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), the California Disabled Persons Act ("CDPA"), the California Unruh Act ("Unruh Act"), and the California Health and Safety Code.

On November 8, 2011, the Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's ADA claim as to 10 of the 13 architectural barriers alleged in the First Amended Complaint, and denied summary judgment as to the remaining three barriers. (ECF No. 74). The Court denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's CDPA and Unruh Act claims for statutory damages as to all alleged barriers, concluding: "Plaintiff has submitted some evidence that he personally encountered each of the alleged barriers and that he experienced difficulty or discomfort as a result. Defendant[s] ha[ve] failed to establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact regarding statutory damages under the Unruh Act and the [CDPA]." Id. at 18. Although a violation of the ADA constitutes a violation of the CDPA and the Unruh Act, the Court noted that Plaintiff can alternatively prove a violation of the CDPA and Unruh Act by demonstrating that Defendants violated the California Code of Regulations, Title 24.

On November 8, 2012, the Court held a bench trial to resolve federal claims of three barriers under the ADA, and state claims of 13 barriers under the CDPA and Unruh Act. (ECF No. 104). Following the bench trial, the parties filed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law (ECF Nos. 110, 113) and several post-trial motions (ECF Nos. 108-109, 113-16).

On May 9, 2013, the Court issued the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, concluding that Defendants were entitled to judgment in their favor on all claims as to all alleged barriers. (ECF No. 125). That same day, the Clerk of the Court entered Judgment consistent with the Court's Order. (ECF No. 126). On May 23, 2013, Defendants filed a Bill of Costs pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1920, 1924, requesting that the Clerk of the Court tax $2, 315.80 as costs incurred in this action. On June 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed an Objection to the Bill of Costs. (ECF No. 133). On June 11, 2013, Defendants filed a declaration of their counsel, Brian Crone, in support of the Bill of Costs. (ECF No. 135). On June 19, 2013, the Clerk of the Court issued an Order Taxing Costs, ordering that $1, 467.75 be taxed against Plaintiff and in favor of Defendants. (ECF No. 136).

On June 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed the Motion to Review and Re-Tax Costs pursuant to Local Rule 54.1.h. (ECF No. 139). On July 15, 2013, Defendants filed an opposition. (ECF No. 143). On July 22, 2013, Plaintiff filed a reply. (ECF No. 144).

On June 7, 2013, Defendants filed the Motion for Attorneys' Fees, Litigation Expenses, Expert Costs, and Sanctions Against Plaintiff's Counsel pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12205, California Civil Code § 55, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 1927. (ECF No. 132). On July 1, 2013, Plaintiff filed an opposition. (ECF No. 141). On July 8, 2013, Defendants filed a reply. (ECF No. 142).

MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS

I. Standard of Review

Under the "American Rule, " each party to a lawsuit is generally responsible for its own attorneys' fees. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983). Ordinarily, the prevailing party in a lawsuit does not collect fees absent contractual or statutory authorization. See Int'l Union of Petroleum & Indus. Workers v. Western Indus. Maint., Inc., 707 F.2d 425, 428 (9th Cir. 1983). Upon determining that a fee award is in order, the court must calculate the proper amount of the award to ensure that it is reasonable. See Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433-34. Reasonableness is generally determined using the "lodestar" method, where a court considers the work completed by the attorneys and multiplies "the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by the reasonable hourly rate." Gracie v. Gracie, 217 F.3d 1060, 1070 (9th Cir. ...


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