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Hounshel v. Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 21, 2014

DEREK HOUNSHEL, Plaintiff,
v.
BATTELLE ENERGY ALLIANCE, LLC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it Plaintiff's Motion For Attorneys' Fees and Costs (Dkt. 113). For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant the motion.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Derek Hounshel filed this action against Battelle Energy Alliance LLC, alleging that Battelle engaged in unlawful adverse employment actions against him based on a perceived disability. Hounshel alleged that his perceived disability was either the sole reason or a motivating factor for Battelle's decision to take these adverse actions against him.

At trial, the jury found in favor of Hounshel. The jury found that Battelle did take adverse actions against Hounshel and they were motivated, in part, by Hounshel's perceived disability. The jury awarded Hounshel compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $99, 944.1. The Court did grant Battelle's motion for a directed verdict on Houshel's gender discrimination claim. Judgment was entered in favor of Hounshel on December 4, 2012. (Dkt. 112). Hounshel now seeks his attorneys' fees and costs in this matter.

ANALYSIS

The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") provides for an award of reasonable attorneys' fees. Jankey v. Poop Deck, 537 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2008); 42 U.S.C. ยง 12205. Before awarding fees in an ADA case, the Court must determine, first, whether the plaintiff was prevailing party, and second, what constitutes a reasonable amount. Fischer v. SJB-P.D. Inc., 214 F.3d 1115, 1118-19 (9th Cir. 2000).

There is no question that Hounshel is the prevailing party, so the Court must only determine a reasonable fee award. As a threshold matter, however, the Court must address whether Hounshel's fee motion should be considered at all. Battelle argues that Hounshel's motion should be denied because it was filed one day late.

1. Timeliness of Motion

Local Civil Rule 54.2 requires that any request for attorney's fees by a prevailing party must be submitted within fourteen days of the entry of judgment giving rise to the request for fees. Here, Judgment was entered on December 3, 2013, Dkt. 112, and therefore Hounshel's fee motion should have been submitted no later than December 17, 2013. But Hounshel did not file his motion until December 18, 2013. Dkt. 113. So, technically, Hounshel's motion was filed a day late. Graves v. OfficeMax Inc., Case No. 1:06-CV-00083-BLW, 2007 WL 576472, n.4 (D. Idaho Feb. 21, 2007). Hounshel, however was confused because the judgment was entered on December 3, 2013, but the docket entry was entered on December 4, 2013. Given these circumstances, the Court will not exercise its discretion to deny the motion as untimely. Id.

2. Reasonableness of Fee Award

Having decided this threshold issue, the Court will examine the reasonableness of the fee request. In determining the fee award, a district court must consider whether the rate charged and whether the hours expended by the attorneys were reasonable. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983). The Ninth Circuit has adopted twelve factors known as the Kerr factors to aid a district court in this decision. Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67, 70 (9th Cir.1975). They include: "(1) the time and labor required, (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, (3) the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly, (4) the preclusion of other employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case, (5) the customary fee, (6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent, (7) time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances, (8) the amount involved and the results obtained, (9) the experience, reputation, and ability of the attorneys, (10) the undesirability' of the case, (11) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client, and (12) awards in similar cases." Id.

Once the district court has determined that both the hourly rate and hours expended are reasonable, it should take these two numbers and multiply them to establish an initial estimate of the value of ...


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