DaSilva v. USCIS, No. 14-30296, 2014 WL 7210953 (5th Cir. Dec. 19, 2014) (Wiener, J.)
Re: Appeal by plaintiff concerning amount of attorney fees awarded by district court
Disposition: Affirming district court's award of $4,170 in attorney fees to plaintiff, which was "a substantial reduction" from [plaintiff's] requested fee of $45,282.50
- Attorney Fees: The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit notes that "[i]n two comprehensive opinions, the district court ruled that [plaintiff] was eligible for and entitled to fees under FOIA, but it questioned the amount requested and awarded only $4,170, less than ten percent of the initial application for $45,282.50." The Fifth Circuit holds that "[t]he district court did not abuse its discretion in . . . awarding $4,170 in attorneys fees under FOIA." The court first "find[s] no error in the district court's rulings, as fees may be awarded only for hours reasonably expended." The court explains that it "agree[s] with the district court that USCIS's processing of the first set of documents did not reflect 'the sort of dilatory litigation tactics that [the attorneys fees] provision was aimed to prevent.'" The court then finds that, "[a]lthough it was within that court's discretion to award a high hourly rate, the district court in this case did not clearly err in staying within the middle of the range" and awarding plaintiff "$200 per hour." Third, the court finds that "in light of the serious concerns that the district court repeatedly expressed about Counsel's timesheets, an additional fifteen percent reduction for lack of billing judgment was not an abuse of discretion." Last, the court finds that "[o]n the issue of fees for reviewing FOIA productions, there is no precedent in this court." "In light of this, and considering our deferential standard of review, the district court's decision to deny fees [for this review] is not an abuse of discretion."