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Willis v. City of Fresno

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 26, 2014

CHRIS WILLIS, MARY WILLIS, INDIVIDUALLY AND SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST TO STEPHEN WILLIS, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF FRESNO, OFFICER GREG CATTON, and OFFICER DANIEL ASTACIO, Defendants.

ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Currently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Order Granting in Part Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fees. (Doc. 316, 317.) Defendants oppose the motion. (Doc. 318.) The Court determined the matter was suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 230(g), and took the matter under submission on August 20, 2014. (Doc. 326.) Having carefully considered the parties' briefs, as well as the entire record in the case, Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

On March 28, 2009, Stephen Willis was fatally shot by Defendants Greg Catton and Daniel Astacio, who are Officers with the Fresno Police Department. Stephen Willis's parents, Chris and Mary Willis ("Plaintiffs"), allege that Stephen Willis's Fourth Amendment rights were violated as a result of the shooting. Plaintiffs further allege that Officer Catton and Officer Astacio were negligent in causing the death of Stephen Willis.

Following over four years of extensive litigation and a ten-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict finding that Officer Catton used excessive force in violation of Stephen's Fourth Amendment rights, and Officer Catton was negligent in causing Stephen's death. The jury found Officer Astacio was not liable on Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment and negligence claims. On Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim, the jury awarded $1 in nominal damages. On Plaintiffs' wrongful death claim, the jury awarded funeral and burial expenses in the amount of $10, 224.00, and further awarded Plaintiffs $1, 500, 000.00 in compensatory damages. The jury also made a finding of comparative negligence, and determined that Stephen Willis was eighty percent responsible for his injuries. On January 31, 2014, the Court entered judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs, and awarded Plaintiffs $1 on Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim, and $302, 044.80 (20% of $1, 510.224.00) on Plaintiffs' wrongful death claim. (Doc. 251.)

Following the Court's denial of several post-trial motions on the merits of Plaintiffs' claims, Plaintiffs moved for attorneys' fees and expenses pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1988. (Doc. 299.) Plaintiffs requested $2, 787, 664.32 in fees and costs, which included a lodestar multiplier of 1.5. (Doc. 299, Attach. 1, 32: 13-18.) Defendants opposed the Motion. (Doc. 305.) After carefully considering the parties' arguments and the relevant legal authorities, the Court awarded Plaintiffs $717, 652.74 in attorneys' fees and $106, 852.20 is costs. (Doc. 316, 41: 3-5.)

B. The Parties' Arguments

On July 22, 2014, Plaintiffs moved for reconsideration of the Court's Order granting Plaintiffs Motion for Fees and Costs. (Doc. 317.) Plaintiffs do not take issue with any aspect of the Court's order other than the Court's apparent failure to include Plaintiffs' fees relating to their Reply Brief in support of Plaintiffs' Motion for fees and costs. Plaintiffs argue they are entitled to an additional 80.1 hours of work done on the reply brief, resulting in an additional fee award of $25, 556.00. (Doc. 317, 3: 13-17.) Plaintiffs argue the Court's failure to include these fees was clear error and warrants reconsideration.

Defendants oppose reconsideration of the Court's Order granting Plaintiffs' fees and costs. (Doc. 318.) Primarily, Defendants argue the number of hours Plaintiffs expended on the fee motion was excessive, and Plaintiffs should not be awarded any more than they already have been granted.[1]

III. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Eastern District Local Rule 230(j) requires that a party moving for reconsideration show "what new or different facts or circumstances are claimed to exist which did not exist or were not shown upon such prior motion, or what other grounds exist for the motion, and why the fact or ...


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