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Tarango v. City of Bakersfield

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 20, 2017

EMILIO TARANGO, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BAKERSFIELD, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES (DOC. 46)

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Emilio Tarango and the City of Bakersfield entered into a settlement agreement, which included a provision stating the City “agreed to pay reasonable attorney's fees and costs awarded by the Court (subject to the right of an appeal).” (Doc. 44 at 2) The parties also agreed the Court would adjudicate Plaintiff's application for attorneys' fees and costs (id.), which is now pending before the Court. (Doc. 46) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for fees and costs is GRANTED in part, in the modified amount of $107, 595.00.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff reported that he “is a profoundly deaf individual whose first and primary language is American Sign Language.” (Doc. 1 at 3, ¶ 7) He was hired by the City of Bakersfield in 1995, and has remained employed by the City for over twenty years. (Id., ¶¶8- 9) Plaintiff asserted he was hired as Fleet Service Worker and “was promoted to Fleet Service Worker II in 1998, ” but since that time “has only been promoted after filing a discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.” (Id., ¶¶ 10-12) Plaintiff alleged he “was denied the opportunity to take classes and receive further training, unlike other non-disabled co-workers.” (Id., ¶ 14) In addition, Plaintiff alleged he “has been overlooked for new job opportunities that arise in his workplace despite his seniority over other younger, non-deaf co-workers.” (Id., ¶ 12) For example, Plaintiff reported the City asked him “train younger, non-deaf employees, who have then been promoted over him and given the ability to earn more pay.” (Id., ¶ 13)

         Plaintiff asserted that throughout the course of his employment, he “made repeated requests for an ASL interpreter to facilitate effective communication, but these requests are routinely denied.” (Doc. 1 at 3, ¶ 15) As a result, Plaintiff contended he “has been forced to attend mandatory meetings without the benefit of an ASL interpreter.” (Id., ¶ 16) In addition, Plaintiff reported he “has never been provided an ASL interpreter for safety classes, which he is forced to sit through with his other co-workers despite the fact that he is unable to hear or participate by asking questions or understanding co-workers' questions and the answers thereto.” (Id. at 3-4, ¶ 17)

         He alleged he was “subjected to exceptional scrutiny by his supervisors, who have treated him rudely and with deliberate indifference because he is deaf.” (Doc. 1 at 4, ¶ 18) He reported, “This treatment has caused [him] to feel belittled, humiliated, ashamed, and completely isolated, which has also led to anxiety and depression.” (Id., ¶ 19)

         Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with both the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on July 3, 2015. (Doc. 1 at 4, ¶ 23) The DFEH issued a Notice of Right to Sue on September 9, 2015 and the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue on October 29, 2015. (Id., ¶¶ 24-25) He initiated the action now pending before the Court by filing a complaint on January 21, 2016. (Doc. 1) Plaintiff alleged the City was liable for the following causes of action: (1) discrimination based on his disability in violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq.; (2) failure to accommodate disability in violation of Title I; (3) violations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794; (4) harassment based on disability in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), Cal. Gov't. Code § 12940; (5) disability discrimination in violation of Cal. Gov't Code §12940; (6) failure to accommodate disability in violation of Cal. Gov't Code §12940(k); (7) failure to engage in the interactive process in violation of Cal. Gov't Code § 12940(n); and (8) failure to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment and discrimination in violation of Cal. Gov't Code § 12940(j). (See generally Doc. 1 at 5-12)

         On July 28, 2017, the parties entered into a settlement agreement (Doc. 41), memorialized in the “Consent Decree Re: Settlement of Equitable Relief Claims” filed on August 10, 2017 (Doc. 43). The terms include, but are not limited to, an agreement that the City “will provide a qualified ASL Interpreter(s) for all [City] Safety and Training Meeting and all standard training sponsored by the [City] involving Mr. Tarango's employment with [the City].” (Doc. 43 at 2, ¶ 2) In addition, the City “will provide either ASL Interpreter(s) or Video Remote Interpreting (“VRI”) Service for Mr. Tarango, whichever is most appropriate to ensure effective communication in the City's reasonable discretion, ” for individual scheduled meetings, general meetings, and meetings with healthcare professionals. (Id. at 3, ¶¶ 2-3, 6) Further, the parties set forth additional terms for equitable relief in the Consent Decree, which was signed and ordered by the Court on October 25, 2017. (Doc. 49) The parties also agreed the Court would adjudicate Plaintiff's application for attorneys' fees and costs. (Doc. 44 at 2)

         Pursuant to the terms of the parties' agreement, Plaintiff filed the motion for attorney fees and costs now pending before the Court. (Doc. 46) The City filed its opposition to the motion on October 4, 2017 (Doc. 47), to which Plaintiff filed a brief in reply on October 11, 2017 (Doc. 48).

         II. Legal Standard

         Plaintiff seeks an award of fees, noting the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”), the Rehabilitation Act, and FEHA “each authorize an award of attorneys' fees and costs to the prevailing party in a civil lawsuit brought thereunder.” (Doc. 46 at 1)

         Specifically, pursuant to ADA, “the court … in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee, including litigation expenses, and costs.” 42 U.S.C. § 12205; Barrios v. California Interscholastic Fed'n, 277 F.3d 1128, 1134 (9th Cir. 2002) (“a prevailing party under the ADA “should ordinarily recover an attorney's fee unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust”). The Rehabilitation Act also provides that “the court… may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs.” 29 U.S.C. §794a(b); see also Jacobson v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 742 F.2d 1202, 1203 (9th Cir. 1984) (explaining the act “expressly authorizes courts to award the prevailing party, other than the United States, in any action or proceeding under the Rehabilitation Act a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs”).

         Likewise, California law provides that a prevailing party may recover fees for a violation of FEHA, “to provide fair compensation to the attorneys involved in the litigation and encourage litigation of claims that in the public interest merit litigation.” Chavez v. City of Los Angeles, 47 Cal.4th 970, 971 (2010). Accordingly, in relevant part, FEHA provides: “In actions brought under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award to the prevailing party reasonable attorney's fees and costs, including expert witness fee.” Cal Gov't Code § 12965.

         III. Discussion and Analysis

         A. Plaintiff's Status as a Prevailing Party

         Under federal law, a “prevailing party” is one that affects “a material alteration of the legal relationship between the parties [whereby] the plaintiff becomes entitled to enforce a judgment, consent decree, or settlement against the defendant.” Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 103, 113 (1992). Thus, the Supreme Court determined that “settlement agreements enforced through a consent decree may serve as the basis for an award of attorney's fees.” Buckhannon Board & Care Home v. W.Va. Dep't of Health & Human Res., 532 U.S. 598, 604 (2001).

         While, as here, consent decrees may “not always include an admission of liability by the defendant… it nonetheless is a court-ordered ‘change in the legal relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant.'” Buckhannon Board, 532 at 604 (quoting Texas State Teachers Assoc. v. Garland Independent School Dist., 489 U.S. 782, 792 (1989)). Because the parties have entered into a settlement to be enforced by the consent decree, there is no dispute that Plaintiff is a prevailing party.

         B. Fee Award

         The Ninth Circuit utilizes the “lodestar” method to compute reasonable attorneys' fees, which represents the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate. Ferland v. Conrad Credit Corp., 244 F.3d 1145, 1149 n.4 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). The product of this computation, the “lodestar” amount, yields a presumptively reasonable fee. Gonzalez v. City of Maywood, 729 F.3d 1196, 1202 (9th Cir. 2013); Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 978 (9th Cir. 2008).

         In this case, Plaintiff seeks an award of fees in the amount of $194, 218.50.[1] (Doc. 48 at 11) According to Plaintiff, the hours expended by the attorneys and their staff were reasonable. (Doc. 46 at 3-4) In addition, he asserts the attorneys should be awarded hourly rates from outside the local community. (Id. at 3-5) On the other hand, the City asserts “the fees sought by Plaintiff should be significantly truncated as they are excessive, duplicative and unnecessary.” (Doc. 47 at 2) Further, the City contends, “The rate charged by Plaintiff's counsel should also be reduced to the rate which reflects those charged within the local community… because Plaintiff could have hired local counsel.” (Id.) 1. Requested hourly rates The Supreme Court explained that attorney fees are to be calculated with “the prevailing market rates in the relevant community.” Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895-96 and n.11 (1984). In general, the “relevant community” for purposes of determining the prevailing market rate is the “forum in which the district court sits.” Camacho v. Bridgeport Fin., Inc., 523 F.3d 973, 97 (2008). Thus, when a case is filed in the Fresno Division of the Eastern District of California, “[t]he Eastern District of California, Fresno Division, is the appropriate forum to establish the lodestar hourly rate . . .” See Jadwin v. County of Kern, 767 F.Supp.2d 1069, 1129 (E.D. Cal. 2011).

         However, the Court may apply “rates from outside the forum… ‘if local counsel was unavailable, either because they are unwilling or unable to perform because they lack the degree of experience, expertise, or specialization required to handle properly the case.'” Barjon v. Dalton, 132 F.3d 496, 500 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1405 (9th Cir. 1992)). “The court may rely on rates outside the local forum if the plaintiff establishes either unwillingness or an inability; ‘[t]here is no requirement that plaintiffs prove both.'” Jadwin, 767 F.Supp.2d at 1124 (quoting Barjon, 132 F.3d at 500 [emphasis added]). a. Unavailability Plaintiff contends local counsel was unavailable because “no attorneys in the Bakersfield area specialized in discrimination cases involving Deaf individuals.” (Doc. 46 at 5, citing Tarango Decl. [Doc. 46-7]; Jackson Decl. [Doc. 46-8]; Rozynski Decl. ¶¶ 5-6)

         Plaintiff reports he “needed counsel who understands the unique issues presented by Deafness, including communication and cultural issues not readily known to the public or to a practitioner without such specialty.” (Doc. 46-7 at 2, Tarango Decl. ¶ 2) He asserts his “search for an attorney that possessed the specific skills, experience, specialization and resources to assist … with [his] claims against the City of Bakersfield led [him] to the firm of Eisenberg & Baum Law Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.” (Id., ¶ 3) Plaintiff contends that after contacting Eisenberg & Baum, LLP, he contacted the Bakersfield Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, which referred him to an attorney in Los Angeles. (Id., ¶ 4) Plaintiff reports he “was not referred to any attorney in Bakersfield.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff asserts that he retained the services of Eisenberg & Baum because it “is committed to ensuring that deaf or hard of hearing people receive the protections provided by law.” (Doc. 46-7 at 2, Tarango Decl. ¶ 5) He asserts the law firm has “a deaf-friendly office that provides accommodations, including sign language interpreters and videophones.” (Id. at 3, ¶ 5) Further, Plaintiff observes that the law firm has an “attorney fluent in sign language and a deaf client liaison.” (Id. at 3) According to Plaintiff, he “not locate any local Bakersfield attorneys possessing these resources.” (Id.)

         Caroline Jackson, a staff attorney with the National Association for the Deaf (“NAD”), also has filed a declaration in support of the fees requested by Plaintiff's counsel. Ms. Jackson asserts that the organization “has been engaged in litigation to enforce the Rehabilitation Act, and subsequently the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.” (Doc. 46-8 at 1, Jackson Decl. ¶ 2) Ms. Jackson reports the NAD “maintain[s] a comprehensive list of attorneys in all fifty states who are willing to represent deaf and hard of hearing individuals in lawsuits enforcing their rights under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act.” (Id., ¶ 3) According to Ms. Jackson, NAD is “frequently… contacted by attorneys from all fifty states who are representing deaf of hard of hearing individuals in various capacities.” (Id.) Ms. Jackson asserts NAD is “aware of approximately one dozen attorneys in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego areas that meet this description, ” but is “not aware of any attorneys elsewhere in the state that have the qualifications and expertise necessary to represent deaf or hard of hearing individuals in ADA and/or Rehabilitation Act cases.” (Id. at 2, ¶ 4)

         On the other hand, Defendant contends Plaintiff fails to demonstrate the unavailability of local counsel. (Doc. 47 at 2, 12-13) Defendant's counsel, John Szewczyk, reports he has worked on several cases “involving plaintiffs whose claims were premised upon the fact that they suffered alleged discrimination based upon the fact that they were deaf.” (Id.) Mr. Szewczyk asserts, “In each of these cases the attorneys representing the plaintiffs were able to effectively communicate with their clients and conduct the litigation even though they themselves did not use American Sign Language.” (Doc. 47-3 at 2, ¶ 6) Further, Mr. Szewczyk reports that based upon his “own experience and research, ” there are numerous different attorneys and firms who have the ability to take on and process claims held by plaintiffs claiming discrimination in the employment area.” (Doc. 47 at 12-13) In particular, Defendant asserts that “a prominent local attorney whose office is based in Bakersfield, to wit, Thomas J. Anton, has significant experience in dealing with individuals with hearing impairments as he is related to an individual with such deficits.” (Id. at 13)

         Thomas Anton reports that his practice includes “representing plaintiffs in wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuits, including claims involving disability discrimination.” (Doc. 47-1 at 2, Anton Decl. ¶ 3) Mr. Anton asserts he is “familiar with the challenges faced by individuals who have hearing impairments as my son-in-law, Thomas P. Horejes, is hearing impaired.” (Id., ¶ 4) Mr. Horejes “has been affiliated with Gallaudet University for a number of years, which is a leading institution of higher education that is intimately connected to the deaf community in the United States.” (Id.) Mr. Anton reports he is “thus intimately familiar with all aspects of the litigation process involving claims of disability discrimination, including claims by individuals who are deaf or otherwise hearing impaired.” (Id., 5)

         i. Unwillingness

         Plaintiff did not contact any local attorneys for representation in this action, and does not report that local counsel were unwilling to represent him. (See generally Doc. 46-7) As such, this prong weighs against the application of hourly rates from outside the local forum. Barjon, 132 F.3d at 500.

         ii. Inability

         Plaintiff asserts he “needed counsel who understands the unique issues presented by Deafness, including communication and cultural issues not readily known to the public or to a practitioner without such specialty.” (Doc. 46-7 at 2, Tarango Decl. ¶ 2) In addition, Plaintiff asserts he chose the law firm of Eisenberg & Baum because it has “a deaf-friendly office that provides accommodations, including sign language interpreters and videophones, ” as well as an “attorney fluent in sign language and a deaf client liaison.” (Id. at 3, ¶ 5)

         Importantly, Plaintiff fails to identify communication and cultural issues of which local counsel lacked knowledge. At most, he identifies potential communication barriers, not concerns about the ability of local counsel to prosecute disability discrimination or employment law claims. Further, the lack of awareness of local counsel by organizations-which do not explain how they compile lists of attorneys who represent deaf individuals or evaluate their qualifications-does not support a conclusion that local counsel was unavailable or unable to represent Plaintiff in this action. To the contrary, as Defendants observe, local attorneys have represented deaf individuals (Doc. 47 at 12-13), and identified an attorney in Bakersfield who is both “intimately familiar” with the challenges faced by the deaf community and disability discrimination claims. (Doc. 47-1 at 2, Anton Decl. ¶¶ 3-5)

         Moreover, this Court is well aware of the number cases in the local region that raise disability-related claims for violations of the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and FEHA.[2] See, e.g., D'Lil v. Riverboat Delta King, Inc., 2015 WL 5092714 at*11 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 28, 2015) (“there is certainly no shortage of ADA cases in this district”). Accordingly, the Court finds Plaintiff fails to carry the burden to demonstrate local counsel were unable to represent Plaintiff and lacked “the degree of experience, expertise, or specialization required” to prosecute the disability discrimination and employment claims presented in Plaintiff's complaint. Barjon, 132 F.3d at 500. b. Rates Plaintiff seeks hourly rates ranging from $400 to $750 for attorneys, and the rate of $200 per hour for non-attorney staff. (Doc. 46 at 6) However, the hourly rates requested by counsel and the professional staff are generally not in accord with the market rate for this legal community.

         i. Attorneys

         As the Ninth Circuit observed, “determining an appropriate ‘market rate' for the services of a lawyer is inherently difficult ….” Camacho, 523 F.3d at 979 (quoting Blum, 465 U.S. at 895 n. 11). A reasonable rate accounts for the lawyer's “experience, skill, and reputation, ” and the rates awarded in the legal community in which the Court sits. Id.; Schwarz v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 73 F.3d 895, 906 (9th Cir. 1995). In evaluating hourly rates, the Court may consider “[a]ffidavits of the plaintiffs' attorneys and other attorneys regarding fees in the community” and hourly rates paid in other cases. See United Steelworkers of Am. v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 896 F.2d 403, 407 (9th Cir. 1990). The Court may apply “either current or historically prevailing rates, ” though “the use of current rates may be necessary to adjust for inflation if the fee amount would otherwise be unreasonable.” Schwarz, 73 F.3d at 908.

         Previously, this Court observed a requested hourly rate of $650 per hour was “high for even the most experienced attorneys in the Eastern District.” Ontiveros v. Zamora, 303 F.R.D. 356, 374 (E.D. Cal. 2014) (citing Johnson v. Allied Trailer Supply, 2014 WL 1334006, at *5 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 3, 2014); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Albright, 2013 WL 4094403, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 13, 2013). Rather, the Court determined “hourly rates generally accepted in the Fresno Division for competent experienced attorneys [are] between $250 and $380, with the highest rates generally reserved for those attorneys who are regarded as competent and reputable and who possess in excess of 20 years of experience.” Silvester v. Harris, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 2014); see also Trujillo v. Singh, 2017 WL 1831941 at *2-3 (E.D. Cal. May 8, 2017) (awarding the requested hourly rate of $300 to local counsel with 15 years of experience, finding this amount was appropriate for the Fresno Division for an ADA case); Miller v. Schmitz, 2014 WL 642729 at *3 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 18, 2014) (awarding $350 per hour for an attorney with 20 years of experience). For attorneys with “less than ten years of experience . . . the accepted range is between $175 and $300 per hour.”[3] Silvester, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4 (citing Willis v. City of Fresno, 2014 WL 3563310 (E.D. Cal. July 17, 2014); Gordillo v. Ford Motor Co., 2014 WL 2801243 (E.D. Cal. June 19, 2014)). With these parameters in mind, the hourly rates for Plaintiff's counsel must be adjusted to calculate the lodestar.

         Andrew Rozynski, lead trial counsel on this action, partner at Eisenberg & Baum, and “the co- director of The Law Center for Deaf and Hard of hearing, ” reports that he has “been admitted to the Bar of the State of New Jersey since 2012 and to the Bar of the State of New York since 2012.” (Doc. 46-1 at 1-3, Rozynski Decl. ¶¶ 2-3, 5, 7) Mr. Rozynski seeks an hourly rate of $500 for his work on this case, which included “supervis[ing] and review[ing] all litigation activity in this matter, including all work performed by the attorneys and staff employed by []his office.” (Id., ¶¶ 3, 7) Mr. Rozynski reports he has “litigat[ed] disability discrimination cases for over 200 Deaf plaintiffs nationwide, including several large multi-plaintiff cases.” (Id. at 2, ¶ 5) He also reports he is the child of deaf parents, and as a result is “fluent in American Sign Language and … intimately familiar with Deaf culture.” (Id.) In light of the fact that Mr. Rozynsky has been admitted to the bar for less than six years yet has extensive experience with disability discrimination litigation, the Court finds $250 is an appropriate hourly rate for Mr. Rozynski. See Silvester, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4.

         Leah Wiederhorn and Brittany Shrader also seek the hourly rate of $500 for their work on the action, “which consisted of drafting and reviewing trial submissions and crafting trial strategy.” (Doc. 46 at 6, Doc. 46-1 at 4-5, Rozynski Decl. ¶¶ 9-10) According to Mr. Rozynski, Ms. Wiederhorn was admitted to the bar in 2007, and “has been practicing as a trial lawyer for ten years, with a special emphasis on civil rights and public interest.” (Doc. 46-1 at 4, Rozynski Decl. ¶ 9) In addition, he reports Ms. Wiederhorn previously “litigated section 1983 cases in federal court and was a Legal Aid attorney for seven years” and now “is routinely admitted Pro Hac Vice in federal courts for the purpose of litigating discrimination lawsuits on behalf of the deaf and hard of hearing.” (Id.) Ms. Wiederhorn “is familiar with [d]eaf culture, has good command of American Sign Language, and has successfully litigated cases on behalf of deaf individuals regarding the lack of effective communication and the duty to accommodate.” (Id.) In light of the experience Ms. Wiederhorn possesses as a member of the bar and litigating discrimination lawsuits, $300 is an appropriate hourly rate. See Silvester, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4 (noting the Court's review of hourly rates in the Fresno division indicated the accepted rate for up to ten years of experience was “between $175 and $300 per hour”); see also Trujillo, 2017 WL 1831941 at *2-3 (awarding the rate of $300 per hour in an ADA case to a lawyer with fifteen years of experience); Luna v. Hoa Trung Vo, 2011 WL 2078004 at *5 (E.D. Cal. May 25, 2011) (awarding an hourly rate of $295 to an attorney who had “exemplary educational credentials” and ten years of experience as a lawyer).

         Brittany Shrader “was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York in 2010.” (Doc. 46-1 at 5, Rozynski Decl. ¶10) Mr. Rozynski reports that Ms. Shrader “is in her eighth year of practice as a trial lawyer, with a special emphasis on civil rights and public interest.” (Id.) According to Mr. Rozynski, Ms. Shrader “grew up in … one of the largest Deaf communities in the country, ” and “[h]er skills in American Sign Language and familiarity with Deaf culture make her uniquely qualified to represent Deaf clients.” (Id.) He reports that Ms. Shrader's “skills have been sought out by members of the Deaf community because of her background, ” and “[s]he has successfully litigated cases on behalf of deaf individuals regarding the lack of effective communication and the duty to accommodate.” (Id.) In light of Ms. Shrader's level of experience, skill, and reputation with the deaf community, $275 is an appropriate hourly rate for her work on this action. See Silvester, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4; Trujillo, 2017 WL 1831941 at *2-3.

         Plaintiff seeks fees at the hourly rate of $400 for the work completed by Philip Black in this action (Doc. 46 at 6), which exceeds the amount awarded in this district for lawyers of comparable experience. Mr. Black was admitted into the New York Bar in 2014 and the California Bar in 2016. (Doc. 46-1 at 3, Rozynski Decl. ¶8) Mr. Rozynski reports, “Mr. Black's practice has focused primarily on representing individuals and advocacy organizations in public service access, public accommodation access, fair housing, and employment discrimination matters.” (Id.) Mr. Black's work on this action included “considerable legal research; the composition of pleadings, disclosures, and memoranda; the taking of depositions; and the drafting of trial documents.” (Id. at 4, ¶8) Mr. Rozynski notes Mr. Black was “previously certified at an hourly rate of approximately $360 per hour in an arbitration award from earlier this year, ” and Plaintiff “request[s] the modestly higher rate … to account for his additional experience and the added complexity of this matter.” (Id.) However, this action was filed in 2016- when Mr. Black had practicing for less than two years-and he has very limited experience. Given his limited experience, and the lack of information regarding the skills he has developed in this time or his reputation in the legal community, $200 is an appropriate hourly rate for the work Mr. Black completed in this action. See Silvester, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4.

         The attorneys from Eisenberg & Baum partnered with attorneys at Toni Jaramilla, APLC, on this action. (Doc. 46-1 at 3, Rozynski Decl. ¶ 7) Toni Jaramilla reports that she was admitted to the state bar of California in 1994 and has “been practicing law, particularly employment law, for over 22 years.” (Doc. 46-5 at 2, Jaramilla Decl. ¶2) Ms. Jaramilla asserts that accomplishments throughout her career have been recognized on both a local and national scale, reporting:

Very early in my career, the Los Angeles Daily Journal profiled me on its front page (October 6, 1998) and featured me again in September 9, 2002 for my successes in my employment cases and my dedication as a community leader. Through a vote of my peers, I was selected and featured as a Southern California “RISING STAR” for 2004, an award given to selected young attorneys (under age of 40 or practicing for less than 10 years) who have achieved a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. In the following years since, from 2005 to the present year, I was nominated and featured as a “SUPER LAWYER” in the Los Angeles Magazine and Law & Politics Magazine as a result of surveys and polling given to attorneys who have personally observed my knowledge of law and litigation skills. Since 2006 through 2013 and more recently this year (2017), I have been listed in the publication of “THE BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA” as featured in the Los Angeles Times Magazine. I was also profiled in a 2009 article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine entitled “Women Leaders in the Law” and “Top Women Lawyers” from 2011 through 2013. In addition, I was one of a select few U.S. employment law attorneys invited to speak before delegates of the Human Rights Commission of Korea during its efforts to expand Korea's own anti-discrimination laws. In 2013, I was nominated for the “Women Making a Difference” Award by the LA Business Journal. This past year, I received recognition in the Daily Journal as the “Top 75 Labor and Employment Lawyers.”

(Id. at 3-4, ¶5) Ms. Jaramilla also served as “Chair of the State Bar's Labor & Employment Law Section, one of the largest sections of the California State Bar chair, ” and “Chair of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), California's largest and strongest employee rights advocate group comprised of lawyers.” (Id. at 5, ¶¶ 6, 8) In light of both her significant level of experience and excellent reputation, it is appropriate to award Ms. Jaramilla the highest rate in this legal community, $400 per hour. Miller, 2014 WL 642729 at *3 (explaining the $400 per hour range for is reserved for “experienced attorneys”); Silvester, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4 (“the highest rates [are] generally reserved for those attorneys who are regarded as competent and reputable and who possess in excess of 20 years of experience”).

         May Mallari, a senior associate with Ms. Jaramilla, “seek[s] an hourly rate of $600.” (Doc. 46-5 at 7, Jaramilla Decl. ¶17) Ms. Mallari has been employed by Ms. Jaramilla since her first year of law school in June 1997, and “has been a licensed attorney practicing exclusively in labor and employment matters for over 17 years, ” after she was admitted to the bar in June 2000. (Id.) Ms. Jaramilla reports:

Ms. Mallari was recognized as a Southern California Rising Star in the Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars Edition published by Los Angeles Magazine and Law & Politics Magazine (in 2005 and 2006, 2009 and 2010). She has also been a speaker on panels at various Labor & Employment conferences, including most recently, presenting on a panel at the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA)'s Annual Conference.

(Id. at 8, ¶18) Thus, from the information provided, Ms. Mallari has over 17 years of legal experience and has established a positive reputation within the legal community for her skills and knowledge. Therefore, the hourly rate of $375 is appropriate for the work completed by Ms. Mallari. See Miller, 2014 WL 642729 at *3; Silvester, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4.

         Finally, Francis Agcaoili graduated from law school in the Philippines in 2004 and was admitted to the California Bar in 2007. (Doc. 46-5 at 8, Jaramilla Decl. ¶ 19) Mr. Agcaoili began working with Ms. Jaramilla as a law clerk in 2004, and became an associate upon his admittance to the Bar. (Id.) Ms. Jaramilla reports that Mr. Agcaoili “has appeared and argued motions before the Los Angeles Superior Court and JAMS Arbitrations, ” and “represented clients in mediations and administrative hearings before the Labor Commissioner.” (Id.) In light of his level of experience with employment law, $300 is appropriate for the work Mr. Agcaoili completed in this action. See Trujillo, 2017 WL 1831941 at *2-3; Silvester, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4.

         Based upon the prior survey of attorney fees awarded in the Fresno Division and the Court's own knowledge, these hourly rates are reasonable for the experience, skill, and reputation of the attorneys who have worked on this action. See Silvester, 2014 WL 7239371 at *4; see also Ingram v. Oroudjian, 647 F.3d 925, 928 (9th Cir. 2011) (concluding “the district court did not abuse its discretion either by relying, in part, on its own knowledge and experience” to determine reasonable hourly rates).

         ii. ...


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