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Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability, Inc. v. Schultz

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 8, 2019

CITIZENS ALLIED FOR INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THOMAS M. SCHULTZ, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill U.S. District Court Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Renewed Motion for Award of Fees and to Extend the Time in Which to File. Dkt. 55. The Court previously denied Plaintiffs' prior motions for fees and for an extension of time to file without prejudice. Dkt. 54. Plaintiffs seek attorneys fees in the amount of $93, 450 and costs in the amount of $16, 110.20. The Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion but will reduce the attorney fee award to $91, 050. Additionally, the Court will award costs in the amount of $228.43.

         ANALYSIS

         1. The Court Will Excuse Plaintiffs' Counsel's Late Filing

         Judgment was entered in Plaintiffs favor in this case on August 13, 2018. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2)(ii), Plaintiffs' Counsel's (hereinafter “Piotrowski”) fee motion and bill of taxable costs were due “no later than 14 days after the entry of judgment, ” i.e. on August 27, 2018.[1] Piotrowski filed his fee motion and bill of taxable costs two days late on August 29, 2018. Dkt 39; Dkt. 40. Simultaneously, Piotrowski filed a motion for extension of time to file bill of taxable costs and motion for fees in which he sought retroactive approval of his tardiness. Dkt. 38.

         The Parties agree that Piotrowski's tardiness may be excused if the Court determines that there is “good cause” to extend the deadline due to Piotrowski's “excusable neglect.” Fed. Rule Civ. Pro. 6(b)(1). Generally, Rule 6(b)(1), “like all the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, is to be liberally construed to effectuate the general purpose of seeing that cases are tried on the merits.” Ahanchian v. Xenon Pictures, Inc., 624 F.3d 1253, 1258-59 (9th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks, citation, and alteration omitted). More specifically, in determining whether neglect is excusable, the Court considers four factors: “(1) the danger of prejudice to the opposing party; (2) the length of the delay and its potential impact on the proceedings; (3) the reason for the delay; and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith.” Bateman v. U.S. Postal Serv., 231 F.3d 1220, 1223-24 (9th Cir. 2000).

         Here, the State's brief is silent-and by extension concedes-that (1) there was no prejudice to the State created by Piotrowski's delay, (2) the two-day delay was de minimis, and (3) Piotrowski's delay does not have the odor of bad faith. The State relies solely on the third factor, combined with Piotrowski's admission that he miscalculated the deadline, to argue that good cause is not present here. That argument is insufficient.

         First, one factor weighing in the State's favor is not enough to overcome the other three factors. Second, the State's argument that granting Piotrowski an extension would equate to a finding that “[b]eing too busy to follow the Rules … [is] an acceptable showing of good cause” is a red herring. Dkt. 56 at 6. Piotrowski, like all human beings, made a mistake. That mistake was “excusable neglect, ” particularly because Piotrowski quickly remedied the error when he discovered it. Weighing each of the four factors outlined in Bateman, “good cause” exists to extend the excuse Piotrowski's untimely filing, and the Court will do so.

         2. The Court Will Grant Plaintiffs' Request for Fees and Costs in a Reduced Amount

         Plaintiffs seek attorneys fees in the amount of $93, 450 and costs in the amount of $16, 110.20. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b), a court may award reasonable attorney fees and costs to “the prevailing party” in an action to enforce a provision of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs' claims seeking to protect their federal Due Process rights through injunctive relief were appropriately raised under § 1983. See Matsuda v. City & County of Honolulu, 512 F.3d 1148, 1156 (9th Cir. 2008). There is no dispute that Plaintiffs were the prevailing party.

         After establishing that a plaintiff is entitled to attorneys fees, the Court must calculate a reasonable fee award. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983).

         Generally, the “lodestar figure, ” which multiplies the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate, determines the amount of the award. Id. “There is a strong presumption that the lodestar figure represents a reasonable fee. Only in rare instances should the lodestar figure be adjusted on the basis of other considerations.” Morales v. City of San Rafael, 96 F.3d 359, 363 n.8 (9th Cir. 1996).

         A. The Court Will Grant Plaintiffs' Request for Costs ...


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