United States District Court, S.D. California
DAWN ZOERB, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
NATIONAL COLLEGIATE STUDENT LOAN TRUST 2006-3, a Delaware statutory trusts; and LAW OFFICE OF PATENAUDE AND FELIX, A.P.C., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR AWARD OF
ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS
Cynthia Bashant, United States District Judge
counsel files a Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs
requesting $125, 000 in attorneys' fees and $7, 500
reimbursement for costs. (ECF No. 47.) Defendants do not
oppose. The Court held a hearing on the issue on April 3,
reviewing the time sheets and considering the arguments of
counsel both oral and written, the Court concludes that
Plaintiffs' request is reasonable and GRANTS the Motion
for Attorneys' Fees and Costs.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
March 3, 2014, Plaintiff Dawn Zoerb filed a civil class
action alleging that Defendants, as assignees of student loan
debts, failed to properly identify the original creditor in
various state court collections actions. (ECF No. 1.) The
case was eventually consolidated with ten other cases making
the same allegations against Defendants. (ECF No. 22.)
Plaintiffs claim Defendants violated the FDCPA and Rosenthal
Act by filing complaints in state court collections lawsuits
falsely claiming that each Plaintiff had entered into a
written loan contract with Defendants, when the Plaintiff in
fact had never dealt with Defendants and had no idea who they
were. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants, however, claim that the FDCPA
is inapplicable and that because Plaintiffs received earlier
notice of the Defendant Trusts taking over their loan
obligations, Plaintiffs could not have been misled in the
state court actions. (Joint Mot., ECF No. 43, ¶ IIB.)
parties met with a private mediator, the Hon. Herbert B.
Hoffman (Ret.) on multiple occasions. All aspects of the
settlement were extensively negotiated through numerous
meetings, telephone conferences and exchanges of
correspondence, with multiple drafts of the Settlement
Agreement being prepared before it was presented for the
Court's approval. (Joint Mot. ¶ 2(C).)
Settlement and Attorneys' Fees
submit declarations detailing that hourly attorneys' fees
expended on this case to date total $159, 971, more than the
$125, 000 requested, and that costs advanced equal $8,
441.67, again more than the $7, 500 requested. (ECF No. 47.)
FDCPA provides for mandatory attorney fees to be awarded to
the successful consumer. Tolentino v. Friedman, 46
F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 1995); 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a).
Courts have an obligation to ensure that the attorneys'
fees award, like the settlement, is reasonable. In re
Bluetooth Headsets Prods. Liab. Litig., 654 F.3d 935,
941 (9th Cir. 2011).
“[u]nlike most private tort litigants [a plaintiff who
brings an FDCPA action] seeks to vindicate important . . .
rights that cannot be valued solely in monetary terms.”
Tolentino, 46 F.3d at 652 (quoting City of
Riverside v. Rivera, 477 U.S. 561, 574 (1986)).
“The most useful starting point for determining the
amount of a reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonably
expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate.” Tolentino, 46 F.3d at 652 (quoting
Hensley v. Eckenhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)). The
Court should also consider the novelty and difficulty of the
litigated issues; preclusion of employment by the attorney
due to acceptance of the case; results obtained; experience,
reputation and ability of the plaintiffs' attorney;
“undesirability” of the case and awards in
similar cases. Id.
counsel submits records detailing the number of hours worked
on this case. The Court finds the number of hours as well as
the hourly rate reasonable given the experience level of the
attorneys involved. Thus, had plaintiffs' counsel been
working for a client who paid a reasonably hourly wage,
counsel would be entitled to $159, 971. Counsel is requesting
less than this amount or $125, 000. The Court finds this is
reasonable. Although the litigated issues were not novel or
difficult, they did require much negotiation by the ...