Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. DHS, No. 10-1992, 2013 WL 5620891 (D.D.C. Oct. 15, 2013) (Lamberth, J.)

Date: 
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Re: Plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees and costs after grant of partial summary judgment in favor of plaintiff with respect to lawsuit against DHS based on response to request for records relating to Whole Body Imaging Technology in U.S. airports Disposition: Awarding plaintiff $3,321.95 in fees and costs and finding that plaintiff "may also move the Court for an additional $640.58, but only if DHS's settlement offer was for less than $3,321.95."
  • Attorney's Fees: As an initial matter, the court notes that "DHS does not contest that [plaintiff] is eligible for and entitled to plaintiff's fees and costs associated with DHS's voluntary production of documents after [plaintiff] filed the FOIA complaint."  However, the court observes that plaintiff is not entitled to fees for all the hours spent on its partially-successful summary judgment.  The Court finds that plaintiff's fees must be reduced because of plaintiff's "limited success."  "[T]he Court finds that on the merits, [plaintiff] dedicated 6 pages out of 42 of argument, or 1/7 to the winning issue."  Accordingly, plaintiff "will receive 1/7 of fees on the merits."  The court also finds that only a portion of the hours logged for two conferences should count towards plaintiff's total.  "Of the eight attorneys who attended [two conferences], four had no part in the litigation before the conferences."  Accordingly, the court concludes that "$931.00 . . . must be subtracted from [plaintiff's] desired fees."  The court also indicates that plaintiff should have billed hours for one attorney at the paralegal/clerk Laffey rate because he was not yet "a member of any bar in 2011, when he did a substantial amount of work on the underlying case."  The court further notes that three other attorneys were not barred in D.C. at the time of their work on the case.  The court advises plaintiff to "take note that it did not precisely comply with D.C. federal court rules," but declines to reduce plaintiff's award amount on that basis.  The court also finds that double billing in the FOIA case and another case warrants a 50% reduction of fees on fees.  "Only six fees-on-fees entries are unique to this case before the reply, and they total $983."  Accordingly, the court "reduce[s] the identical … entries by 50% to reflect the partition that [plaintiff] should have made."  The court finally notes that plaintiff cannot recover for work done after the date of DHS's Rule 68 offer "unless the offer was for less than what [plaintiff] is awarded in costs up to and including that date."  After adding it all up, the court decides that plaintiff "is entitled to $3,321.95 in attorneys' fees and costs" and that plaintiff "may be entitled to $640.58 more, but only if DHS's Rule 68 offer was for less than $3,321.95."  "[I]f the offer was for that much or more, DHS may move for post-offer costs, if any."
Topic: 
Attorney Fees
District Court
Updated August 6, 2014