Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. DHS, No. 13-260, 2016 WL 3919810 (D.D.C. July 18, 2016) (Boasberg, J.)
Re: Request for DHS protocols for shutting down wireless networks during national emergencies
Disposition: Granting plaintiff's motion for attorney fees in part; awarding plaintiff $20,145.04 in attorney fees and costs
- Attorney Fees, Timing of Attorney Fees Motions: The court holds that "the timing of Plaintiff's Motion is not fatal here." While the court notes that "seasons have passed since the entry of judgment here[,]" the court finds that "a 'court order provide[d] otherwise' – namely, this Court set an attorney-fees briefing schedule, with which EPIC has complied."
- Attorney Fees, Calculations: The court finds that "[m]uch of the attorney-fee legwork is done because DHS concedes both eligibility and entitlement." "What it strenuously objects to, however, is the amount sought." Then, "[t]he Court . . . accepts the LSI Laffey Matrix hourly rates used by [plaintiff]." Next, the court finds that, "[i]nstead of blacklining the bill – e.g., two conferences instead of four, one attorney instead of three – the Court takes up Defendant's proposal to factor in these inefficiencies when considering how to discount the overall fee request." "In other words, the Court will write off a percentage of EPIC’s bill 'to reflect attorney inefficiency and other considerations.'" "Surveying the bill, the Court locates the main culprit: overstaffing." "This was a procedurally straightforward FOIA case about one relatively short document." "To counteract this overstaffing, the Court will apply to the lodestar – that is, to all of Plaintiff's attorney-fees billing entries – a 35% discount." "The Court, [then], must consider Plaintiff’s 'overall success on the merits[.]'" First, "the Court will compensate fully the time spent preparing the Complaint and litigating on remand." Second, the court finds that "roughly 24% of argument in legal briefing was devoted to segregability." "The Court will, accordingly, reduce Plaintiff’s fees in preparing these briefs by 76%." The court then "reduce[s] the fees-on-fees award commensurate with reductions to merits fees." The court "also withhold[s] fees on fees 'where the plaintiff needlessly prolongs litigation'" and "thus only accept as potentially recoverable the time spent after settlement talks fell through." Finally, "because DHS had no opportunity to contest fees requested for drafting the fees Reply, the Court 'scrutinizes them particularly carefully'" and reduces them.