United States District Court, E.D. California
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MORRISON C. ENGLAND, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
lawsuit was brought by Plaintiff Scott Johnson
(“Plaintiff”) under the provisions of both the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §
12101, et seq. (“ADA”), and California's
Unruh Civil Rights and Disabled Persons Acts (Cal. Civ. Code
§§ 51-53, 54-54.8) on grounds that Defendant Elk Horn Gas,
Inc. (“Elk Horn”) failed to provide a compliant
accessible parking space and transaction counter at its
Elkhorn Shell service station located at 4261 Elkhorn Blvd in
North Highlands, California.
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's
Fees and Litigation Expenses (ECF No. 49). Plaintiff seeks
attorney's fees totaling $17, 315 and litigation expenses
of $620, for a total amount of $17, 935. Defendant Elk Horn
has failed to oppose the Motion.
forth below, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED, but the Court
finds that only $12, 630 in attorney's fees are
recoverable, which along with the $620 spent as litigation
costs, results in a total of $13, 250.
a California resident, is a level C-5 quadriplegic who cannot
walk and has manual dexterity impairments. He uses a
wheelchair and has a special van to facilitate movement.
September 11, 2013, Plaintiff claims he went to
Defendant's Elkhorn Shell station and discovered that the
“van accessible” parking stall lacked signage and
was too steep and uneven for him to exit his vehicle safely
and independently in a wheelchair. In addition, when
Plaintiff went inside the station to make his purchase, he
states he discovered that the transaction counter was too
high for him to use when seated in his chair. According to
Plaintiff, he returned to the Elkhorn Shell on four
additional occasions and encountered the same barriers on
each subsequent visit.
March 19, 2017, Plaintiff moved for summary judgment on
grounds that the barriers he encountered violated the ADA as
a matter of law. Plaintiff therefore claimed entitlement to
statutory damages under California's Unruh Civil Rights
Act, which provides for a statutory penalty of $4, 000 for
each ADA violation under Cal. Civ. Code § 55.56(a).
Although Plaintiff visited Elkhorn Shell on a total of five
different occasions and claims he was subjected to access
barriers on each occasion, he sought statutory damages for
only two visits. Defendant Elk Horn failed to oppose
Plaintiff's summary judgment request and, by Memorandum
and Order filed October 7, 2017, the Court granted
Plaintiff's Motion and entered judgment in favor of
the judgment rendered in his favor, Plaintiff brought the
Motion for fees and costs now before the Court given his
status as a prevailing party. Specifically, Plaintiff, who is
represented by the Center for Disability Access, seeks to
recover $350 per hour for work performed by partner Mark
Potter, a $300 hourly figure for associate Phyl Grace, $250
an hour for work performed by associates Dennis Price and
Isabel Masanque, and a $200 per hour rate for time expended
by associates Amanda Lockhart and Sara Gunderson.
12205 of the ADA authorizes a court, in its discretion, to
“allow the prevailing party, other than the United
States, a reasonable attorney's fee, including litigation
expenses, and costs . . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 12205. A
prevailing plaintiff under a statute so worded “should
recover an attorney's fee unless special circumstances
would render such an award unjust.” Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1976). Moreover, Section
55 of the Califirnia Civil Code provides that “[t]he
prevailing party in the action shall be entitled to recover
reasonable attorney's fees.” Cal. Civ. Code §
55. A plaintiff who enters a legally enforceable settlement
agreement is considered a prevailing party. Barrios v.
Cal. Interscholastic Federation, 277 F.3d 1128, 1134
fees are calculated using the lodestar method, under which
“a reasonable hourly rate [is multiplied] by the number
of hours reasonably expended on the litigation.”
Widrig v. Apfel, 140 F.3d 1207, 1209 (9th Cir.
1998). The lodestar figure may then be adjusted based on an
analysis of twelve factors as outlined by the Supreme Court
in Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424 (1983). These
(1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and
difficulty of the questions, (3) the skill requisite to
perform the legal service properly, (4) the preclusion of
employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case, (5)
the customary fee, (6) whether the fee is fixed or
contingent, (7) time limitations imposed by the client or the
circumstances; (8) the amount involved and the results
obtained; (9) the experience, reputation, and ability of the
attorneys; (10) the “undesirability” of the case;
(11) the nature and length of the professional relationship
with the client; and (12) awards in similar cases.
Id. at 430, n. 3. Plaintiff has the burden of
“produc[ing] satisfactory evidence-in addition to the
attorney's own affidavits-that the requested rates are in
line with those prevailing in the community for similar
services by ...