United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR
ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS RE: DKT. NO. 224
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge.
their unopposed motion, Plaintiffs Kathleen Dunn, Patrick
Campbell, Karen Hobson, and Frederick Hickson
(“Plaintiffs”) seek approval of an award of $22,
750 in attorneys' fees and $471.91 in costs relating to a
$65, 000 settlement resolving Plaintiffs' individual
claims against Defendant Experis US, Inc.
(“Experis”) under the Fair Labor Standards Act,
29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq.
(“FLSA”), and California law. Dkt. No. 224 at
6; see also Dkt. No. 223. Having carefully reviewed
Plaintiffs' papers, the Court GRANTS the motion in full
for the reasons stated below.
Court will not recount the long procedural history or factual
background of this action. Instead, the Court refers any
interested party to its orders denying Plaintiffs'
renewed motion for settlement approval, see Dkt. No.
168, and granting Plaintiffs' second renewed motion for
settlement approval, see Dkt. No. 193.
plaintiffs are entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees and
costs under the FLSA. See 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)
(2006); Newhouse v. Robert's llimaRE Tours,
Inc., 708 F.2d 436, 441 (9th Cir.1983) (the FLSA grants
prevailing plaintiffs reasonable attorneys' fees,
including fees for appellate and post-remand services).
Reasonable attorneys' fees may be calculated using the
lodestar method. See Perdue v. Kenny A. ex rel.
Winn, 559 U.S. 542, 551 (2010) (“[t]he lodestar
figure has, as its name suggests, become the guiding light of
our fee-shifting jurisprudence.” (internal quotation
marks omitted)). A “lodestar figure is calculated by
multiplying the number of hours the prevailing party
reasonably expended on the litigation (as supported by
adequate documentation) by a reasonable hourly rate for the
region and for the experience of the lawyer.” In re
Bluetooth Headset Prods. Liab. Litig., 654 F.3d 935, 941
(9th Cir. 2011) (citing Staton v. Boeing Co., 327
F.3d 938, 965 (9th Cir. 2003)). “[T]here is a strong
presumption that the lodestar figure is reasonable, but that
presumption may be overcome in those rare circumstances in
which the lodestar does not adequately take into account a
factor that may properly be considered in determining a
reasonable fee.” Perdue, 559 U.S. at 554
(internal quotation marks omitted). In those cases, the
lodestar “may be adjusted by any factors set forth in
Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70
(9th Cir. 1975) that are not already subsumed by the lodestar
inquiry.” See Rutti v. Lojack Co., Inc., No.
SACV 06-350 DOC (JCx), 2012 WL 3151077, at *2 (C.D. Cal. July
Plaintiffs' counsel contends that counsel has expended a
combined 57.9 hours on this case. Dkt. Nos. 224-1 ¶ 17,
224-2 ¶ 18. The declaration of Galvin Kennedy states
that two attorneys and several paralegals at his firm,
Kennedy Hodges, LLP, worked on this case. Dkt. No. 224-1
¶ 18. One attorney requests a billing rate of $600 per
hour for 5.8 hours of work, one attorney requests a billing
rate of $350 per hour for 20.5 hours of work, and several
paralegals request varied billing rates between $175 and $225
per hour for a combined total of 15.8 hours of work.
Id. Dkt. No. 224-1 ¶ 18. In addition, the
declaration of John Padilla states that two attorneys at his
firm, Padilla and Rodriguez, LLP, worked on this case. Dkt.
No. 224-2 ¶ 1. One attorney requests a billing rate of
$600 per hour, and one attorney requests a billing rate of
$425 per hour. Id. ¶ 19. Applying these rates
to these hours, Mr. Kennedy estimates that his firm's
lodestar is $13, 926.25, Dkt. No. 224-1 ¶ 17, while Mr.
Padilla estimates that his firm's lodestar is $6, 895.92,
Dkt. No. 224-2 ¶ 18, for a total lodestar of $20,
822.17, Dkt. No. 224 at 6. However, Plaintiffs' counsel
seek an award of $22, 750, which represents an agreed upon
contingency fee of thirty-five percent of the present
established standard when determining a reasonable hourly
rate is the rate prevailing in the community for similar work
performed by attorneys of comparable skill, experience, and
reputation.” Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc.,
523 F.3d 973, 979 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Generally, “the relevant community is the
forum in which the district court sits.” Id.
(citing Barjon v. Dalton, 132 F.3d 496, 500 (9th
Cir. 1997)). Typically, “affidavits of the
plaintiffs' attorney and other attorneys regarding
prevailing fees in the community and rate determinations in
other cases . . . are satisfactory evidence of the prevailing
market rate.” United Steelworkers of Am. v. Phelps
Dodge Corp., 896 F.2d 403, 407 (9th Cir. 1990).
“In addition to affidavits from the fee applicant,
other evidence of prevailing market rates may include
affidavits from other area attorneys or examples of rates
awarded to counsel in previous cases.” Schuchardt
v. Law Office of Rory W. Clark, 314 F.R.D. 673, 687
(N.D. Cal. 2016).
declarations of Messrs. Kennedy and Padilla provide
sufficient evidence of the skill and experience of the four
attorneys who worked on this case. See Dkt. Nos.
224-1, 224-2. The two attorneys requesting $600 per hour have
more than twenty years of experience each, while the two
attorneys requesting $425 and $350 per hour have seven and
thirteen years of experience respectively. Dkt. No. 224-1
¶¶ 6, 14; Dkt. No. 224-2 ¶¶ 3, 15.
Accordingly, the Court finds that the billing rates used by
Plaintiffs' counsel to calculate the total lodestar are
reasonable and in line with prevailing rates in this District
for personnel of comparable experience, skill, and
reputation. See, e.g., Aguilar v. Zep Inc.,
No. 13-cv-00563 WHO, 2014 WL 4063144, at *6 (N.D. Cal. Aug.
15, 2014) (awarding similar hourly rates to attorneys with
similar skill and experience in labor case, and a rate of
$180 per hour to paralegals); see also Galeener v. Source
Refrigeration & HVAC, Inc. Watkins v. Hireright,
Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136200, *9 (S.D. Cal. Sept.
30, 2016) (finding the two Kennedy Hodges, LLP attorneys'
rates of $675 per hour and $600 per hour plus multipliers
reasonable in nationwide wage and hour class and collective
second issue in the lodestar analysis is whether the
requested number of hours is reasonable. A total of 57.9
hours were expended in the case. Dkt. Nos. 224-1 ¶ 17,
224-2 ¶ 18. Having carefully reviewed the hours expended
and the documentation provided, the Court finds that the
number of hours was reasonable given the length of the case,
its procedural posture, and the complexity of the legal
issues presented. The Court thus finds Plaintiffs'
counsel's estimated lodestar of $20, 822.17 reasonable.
Plaintiff's' counsel seeks thirty-five percent of the
settlement amount for a total of $22, 750, which is slightly
above the estimated lodestar. Dkt. No. 224 at 6. Given the
lengthy procedural history of this case, which was filed in
2013, and the significant effort Plaintiffs' counsel has
expended to resolve the action, the Court finds such an
upward departure to be reasonable here, and GRANTS
attorneys' fees in the amount of $22, 750.