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Moore v. Chase, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 7, 2016

CHASE, INC., d/b/a SLATER SHELL, Defendant. Date: Description: Time Billed: Time Disallowed: Date: Description: Time Billed: Time Disallowed:




         Plaintiff Ronald Moore (“Plaintiff) brought this action against Chase, Inc., d/b/a Slater Shell (“Defendant”), alleging that Defendant discriminated against him based upon his disability as prohibited by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (“ADA”) and by state law. (See generally Docs. 1 (“Complaint”); 30 (“Amended Complaint”).) On March 7, 2016, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff on his ADA and state law claims and entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. (Docs. 101; 102.) Presently before the Court is Plaintiff’s motion for $105, 284.84 in attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to the ADA and state law. (Doc. 110-1 (requesting $97, 974 in attorney’s fees and $7, 310.84 in litigation expenses).)

         Having reviewed the parties’ papers and all supporting material, the matter was found suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 230(g), and the hearing was vacated. For the following reasons, Plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs is GRANTED IN PART.


         A. Legal Standard

         “The ADA authorizes a court to award attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, and costs to a prevailing party.” Lovell v. Chandler, 303 F.3d 1039, 1058 (9th Cir. 2002); see 42 U.S.C. § 12205; 28 C.F.R. § 35.175. The court may also award attorney’s fees to a prevailing party in a suit brought under the California “Unruh Act.” See Cal. Civ. Code §§ 52(a), 55.55.

         To determine the amount of a reasonable attorney’s fee, the court must apply a two-step analysis. Gonzalez v. City of Maywood, 729 F.3d 1196, 1202 (9th Cir. 2013). First, the court must determine what constitutes a reasonable fee using the lodestar method. Id. This lodestar figure is calculated by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). There is a “strong presumption” that the lodestar figure constitutes an appropriate fee award. United Steelworkers of Am. v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 896 F.2d 403, 406 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Second, the court may then adjust the lodestar figure upward or downward based on a variety of factors. Gonzalez, 729 F.3d at 1202. In determining the size of an appropriate fee award, the court need not “achieve auditing perfection.” Fox v. Vice, 563 U.S. 826, 838 (2011). During either of these steps, the court may use estimates and take into account its overall sense of the litigation to determine a reasonable fee. Id.

         B. Lodestar Computation[1]

         1.Reasonable Hourly Rate

         The reasonable hourly rate is determined according to “the prevailing market rates in the relevant community, ” Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 866, 895 (1984), “for similar work performed by attorneys of comparable skill, experience, and reputation, ” Chalmers v. City of Los Angeles, 796 F.2d 1205, 1210-11 (9th Cir. 1986). The relevant legal community “is the forum in which the district court sits.” Prison Legal News v. Schwarzenegger, 608 F.3d 446, 454 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). The relevant community in this case is the Sacramento Division of the Eastern District of California.

         The burden is on the applicant to produce satisfactory evidence that the requested rate is “in line with those prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation.” Blum, 465 U.S. at 895 n.11; accord Gonzalez, 729 F.3d at 1206. See also Nadarajah v. Holder, 569 F.3d 906, 916 (9th Cir. 2009). “The hourly rate for successful civil rights attorneys is to be calculated by considering certain factors, including the novelty and difficulty of the issues, the skill required to try the case, whether or not the fee is contingent, the experience held by counsel and fee awards in similar cases.” Moreno v. City of Sacramento, 534 F.3d 1106, 1114 (9th Cir. 2008). While disability access cases are a subset of civil rights practice, the reasonable hourly rate merited in routine disability access cases typically falls below the hourly rate charged in more complicated civil rights cases. See Johnson v. Wayside Prop., Inc., Civ. No. 2:13-1610 WBS AC, 2014 WL 6634324, at *6 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 21, 2014).

         Plaintiff seeks hourly rates of $300 for Ms. Moore, $115 for Ms. Sacks and $115 for Ms. Law. (Docs. 110; 116.) Defendant contends that an hourly rate of $200 for Ms. Moore and $75 for Ms. Sacks and Ms. Law is appropriate. (Doc. 114, pp. 11-14.)

         a.Plaintiff’s ...

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