Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

VETERANS EDUC. PROJECT v. SECRETARY OF THE AIR FOR

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


May 15, 1981

VETERANS EDUCATION PROJECT, Plaintiff,
v.
SECRETARY OF the AIR FORCE, et al., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBINSON, JR.

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees in the above captioned Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. 5 U.S.C. ยง 552. On February 25, 1981 this Court issued a Memorandum and Order, 509 F. Supp. 860, that (1) briefly reviewed this litigation, (2) indicated that Plaintiff was eligible for and entitled to an award of attorney's fees, and (3) provided for discovery and settlement talks. The settlement talks did not bear fruit, and the parties indicated on April 17 that they could not agree on any of the issues necessary to resolution of the instant case. At a hearing held on May 13, 1981, both parties indicated that no evidentiary hearing was necessary, and the case was submitted. It is undisputed that this litigation is governed by the Court of Appeals' Opinion in Copeland v. Marshall, 205 U.S. App. D.C. 390, 641 F.2d 880 (D.C.Cir.1980). The following constitutes this Court's analysis of the instant litigation pursuant to Copeland.

 I. Assessment of Reasonable Hours

 As the Court in Copeland stated, "the first task for the trial judge is determining the amount of time reasonably expended." Id., at 891. In assessing the reasonableness of the hours spent, the Court must (1) segregate into categories the types of work performed by each attorney, (2) ascertain to what extent the time spent was productive, and (3) eliminate unproductive time. Id., at 891.

 Defendants contend that certain hours spent are both excessive and duplicative. *fn1" Specifically, Defendants would have the Court hold that (1) only one attorney was necessary at Court proceedings and in settlement negotiations, (2) the time spent drafting Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment was excessive, and (3) time spent (a) in intra-office conferences, (b) traveling to court and to settlement conferences, and (c) waiting in court should be deleted. The Court in Copeland indicated that this Court must be guided by the prevailing practice in the private sector. Id., at 891. Where "billing judgment" would move counsel to refrain from billing certain hours to their client, those hours are not "properly billed to one's adversary." Id., at 891.

 This Court has a thorough understanding of the complexity of the instant litigation and the arduous negotiations process. It also is cognizant of the help provided by additional attorneys at hearings and an additional attorney and paralegal at settlement conferences. While the litigation was somewhat complex, only two attorneys were necessary at the hearings, given the experience and competence of Messrs. Stichman and Addlestone. Thus, the Court will delete time spent by Mr. Simon preparing for and attending hearings. The Court is aware of the need for two or three advocates in the negotiations process. No deletions will be made by attendance of two or three people at the negotiations.

 Defendants next assert that 72 hours spent drafting a 40 page cross-motion for summary judgment was excessive. The Court is familiar with that cross-motion and the hours necessary for its submission. Seventy-two hours does not appear excessive.

 Finally, Defendants assert that certain time spent in intra-office conferences, traveling, and waiting should be deleted. The Court notes that the participants in the conferences were all attorneys familiar with and working on this litigation. Such conferences enhance the possibility of competent and efficient litigation, and hours spent in conferences are not reduced under the rubric of "billing judgment" unless the result is unproductive. Defendants do not assert that the conferences were unproductive in the instant litigation, however. It merely contends that intra-office conferences are per se subject to "billing judgment." Likewise, Defendants allege that time spent traveling and waiting is per se subject to reduction. The Court is familiar with the billing practices in the private sector, and notes that many private firms bill their clients for traveling and waiting. Of course, when time spent traveling and waiting is excessive, it is subject to reduction. In the instant litigation, however, such time is de minimis. The Court rejects Defendants' allegation regarding intra-office conferences, traveling, and waiting time. A breakdown of Plaintiff's counsel's time, as required by Copeland, id., at 891-892, is set forth below: Attorney & Type of Work Compensable Hours Mr. Stichman: Research and Drafting of Filings 71.25 Appearances 2.50 Settlement Negotiations and Related Work 50.75 124.50 Mr. Addlestone: Discussion and Review of Filing 10.35 Appearances 2.50 Settlement Negotiations and Related Work 24.50 37.35 Mr. Simon: Review and Drafting of Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment 28.00 Review of Settlement Proposals 2.00 30.00 Mr. Snyder:2 Intra-office conferences 3.00 Settlement Negotiations 9.50 12.50 Ms. Klein, Ms. Elkins, and Mr. Golinker:3 Preparation of Pleadings 43.00 Mr. Fidell: Conferences with Client 3.25 Research 5.75 Conferences with Ms. Shaw 2.75 Revision of Pleadings 3.00 14.75 Ms. Shaw: Conferences with Client 7.75 Research 70.25 Familiarization with Docket 7.75 Intra-office conferences 5.00 Drafting and Reviewing Pleadings 98.50 189.25 Minus "billing judgment" 50.00 139.25

19810515

© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.



Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.