Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Re: Plaintiff's motion for $40,484.88 in attorney's fees and an additional $33,475.50 in litigation costs Disposition: Granting plaintiff's request for attorney's fees in the amount of $40,484.88 and treating as a separate motion the request for an additional $33,475.50
- Attorney's Fees, Eligibility: The court grants plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees. The court explains that plaintiff, "filed the FOIA action following a request for information from [defendant] on the source of funds used to pay a private law firm to defend the agency in [a] Whistleblower Protection Act case." In that Whistleblower Protection Act case, "[plaintiff] represented Robert J. McCarthy in an unsuccessful suit for reinstatement after [defendant] fired McCarthy in 2009." The court notes that, "McCarthy was not only the plaintiff in that case, but also one of the attorneys who worked on the underlying FOIA action in [the instant case]." The court explains that, "$32,575.50, or a little more than 80% of the fees sought for the FOIA action, is attributable to McCarthy's work on the case." The court states that, "[h]ere, [defendant] does not challenge [plaintiff's] eligibility for or entitlement to attorneys' fees." "Nor does it challenge the reasonableness of the fees [defendant] requested." Defendant, "does contest, however, the recovery of fees for McCarthy's work in the underlying case on the grounds that it 'is analogous to time spent by pro se attorney-litigants.'" The court rejects defendant's argument and explains that plaintiff, "is an organization and therefore not a pro se litigant." "Furthermore, [plaintiff], not McCarthy, is the party-in-interest. So any 'interest' McCarthy may have had in the underlying litigation is irrelevant." Therefore, the court grants plaintiff's motion and states that, "[a]s for the additional $33,475.50 for litigating this issue, this court will treat the request as a separate motion, and [defendant] will have 14 days from this date to file a response."
Updated August 6, 2014