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Verdun v. I.C. System, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 14, 2014

TINA VERDUN, Plaintiff,
v.
I.C. SYSTEM, INC., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES

JEFFREY T. MILLER, District Judge.

On February 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking attorney's fees and litigation expenses, (Dkt. No. 6). On March 10, 2014, Defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiff's request, (Dkt. No. 7), and Plaintiff filed a reply on March 15, 2014, (Dkt. No. 8). The Court finds this matter suitable for decision on the papers and without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART, and Plaintiff is awarded $4, 819.50 in attorney's fees accordingly.

BACKGROUND

On January 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed this action, claiming Defendant violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") and California's Rosenthal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act ("CRFDCPA").

On February 4, 2014, Defendant made an offer of settlement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68. Defendant offered to settle the action for "$2, 001 in damages, plus reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred until and including 14 days after the making of this offer to be determined by the Court." (Dkt. No. 5, Ex. A). On February 4, 2014, Plaintiff filed a notice of acceptance of Defendant's Rule 68 offer.

On February 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed the instant motion for attorney's fees. The motion seeks $6, 720 in attorney's fees for 19.2 hours spent by attorney Andre L. Verdun ("Verdun") at $350 per hour, as well as $26.25 in litigation costs. This results in a total request of $6, 746.25. Defendant opposes the fee motion, arguing that the fee request should be significantly reduced because, among other things, counsel's hourly rate and the amount of time billed are excessive.

LEGAL STANDARD

As noted above, Defendant agreed to settle this action in exchange for reasonable attorney's fees and costs. Moreover, "any debt collector who fails to comply with" the FDCPA is, "in the case of any successful action, " liable for "the costs of the action, together with a reasonable attorney's fee as determined by the court." 15 U.S.C. ยง 1692k(a)(3). Accordingly, the sole remaining issue is the appropriate amount of attorney's fees to be awarded.

The appropriate fee is determined by multiplying the number of hours reasonably worked on the litigation by a reasonably hourly rate, arriving at a "lodestar." McGrath v. Cnty. of Nev. , 67 F.3d 248, 252 (9th Cir. 1995). After determining the lodestar figure, courts should determine whether the lodestar amount should be adjusted according to the Kerr factors. Id . (citing Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc. , 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir. 1975). The Kerr factors include: (1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved; (3) the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly; (4) the preclusion of other employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case; (5) the customary fee; (6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent; (7) time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances; (8) the amount involved and the results obtained; (9) the experience, reputation, and ability of the attorneys; (10) the undesirability of the case; (11) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client; and (12) awards in similar cases. Kerr , 526 F.2d at 70.

DISCUSSION

A. Reasonable Hours

Defendant raises several arguments regarding the reasonableness of Verdun's time spent on this case. The court addresses each of Defendant's concerns in turn.

1. Excessive Time Spent

First, Defendant argues that several of Verdun's billing entries are excessive and unreasonable in light of the tasks performed. (Def. Resp. 3-4). Defendant objects to Verdun having spent.6 hours reviewing records provided by the client and creating an index. Defendant suggests the sole document Plaintiff's counsel had to review was the allegedly impermissible letter sent by Defendant; however, Verdun contends he had to review Plaintiff's intake forms as well as all of the contracts between Plaintiff and Defendant to determine whether they provided for the payment of interest. Verdun argues he needed to review these documents in order ...


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