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Hardy v. ATF, No. 15-1649, 2017 WL 5198173 (D.D.C. Nov. 9, 2017) (Howell, J.)


Hardy v. ATF, No. 15-1649, 2017 WL 5198173 (D.D.C. Nov. 9, 2017) (Howell, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning policies on registered handguns and documents given to OIG in connection with OIG report on National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record ("NFRTR")

Disposition:  Granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's motion for attorney fees; awarding plaintiff $436 in costs, $14,850.60 in attorney fees, and $4,809.35 in fees on fees

  • Attorney Fees, Eligibility:  The court holds that "[b]oth the fact that OIG produced records when a scheduling order was in place, after initially declining to do so, and the fact that the plaintiff 'obtained relief through . . . a judicial order,' . . . by partial grant of the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment,' . . . establishes that the plaintiff is eligible for fees from OIG."  However, the court finds that "[t]he same cannot be said of ATF."  "ATF's production satisfied the plaintiff’s request in full, and accordingly, summary judgment was granted and final judgment entered for ATF."  Additionally, the court finds that "ATF has fully explained that the delays due were due to backlog and other projects and has provided a sufficient description of its administrative difficulties to establish that causation is lacking here."
  • Attorney Fees, Entitlement:  The court holds that "[r]eview of the four relevant factors in determining entitlement to fees . . . demonstrates that the plaintiff is entitled to some attorneys' fees from OIG."  First, the court finds that "public value is present in seeing which portions of the survey data and question analyses OIG chose to make public in the NFRTR."  The court then finds that "[t]he second and third factors are . . . satisfied[]" because "plaintiff has already blogged about the documents he received, and his past publications indicate his scholarly interest in the topic[]" and "[plaintiff] has shared the information he received with 'law professors and attorneys interested in the right to arms and in firearms law,' and he did not charge fees for that distribution."  Last, the court finds that "the withholding of documents in [certain] category[ies] . . .was correct as a matter of law[,]" but that "OIG has not established a colorable basis for withholding [other] documents and the plaintiff is likewise entitled to fees."
  • Attorney Fees, Calculations:  The court proceeds to calculate the specific fees in this case.  First, the court finds that, "[a]s discussed, the plaintiff is not entitled to fees from ATF."  "Accordingly, the time spent on tasks related to only ATF will be deducted from the plaintiff's hours."  Second, the court finds that "plaintiff is . . . entitled to fees for time spent reviewing the adequacy of the defendants' production to determine how to proceed in this litigation."  Third, the court finds that " plaintiff is not, however, entitled to recover for time spent reviewing the documents turned over as a result of the Court's Memorandum Opinion[.]"  "Nor is the plaintiff entitled to fees for time spent reviewing documents produced by ATF[.]"  Fourth, the court finds that "[w]hile the inefficiencies in the plaintiff's billing are noted, judicial resources will not be spent evaluating the reasonableness of each individual entry in the plaintiff's ledgers."  Last, the court finds that "to accomplish 'rough justice' in the award of fees, the plaintiff's award will be reduced by fifty percent."  The court also awards plaintiff some fees on fees because "[t]he law is 'settled in this circuit' that '[h]ours reasonably devoted to a request for fees are compensable.'"
Court Decision Topic(s)
Attorney Fees
District Court opinions
Updated February 16, 2018