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GREENE v. GIBRALTAR MORTG. INV. CORP.

December 4, 1981

Rosa GREENE, Plaintiff,
v.
GIBRALTAR MORTGAGE INVESTMENT CORP., et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case is before the Court on plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of this Court's January 28, 1981 order denying her attorneys' fees.

 I.

 This Court relied heavily on Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. v. Wilderness Society, 421 U.S. 240, 95 S. Ct. 1612, 44 L. Ed. 2d 141 (1975), in denying the requested fee award. Alyeska, however, held only that Congress alone can authorize an exception to the prevailing American rule that attorneys' fees ordinarily are not recoverable by the winning party in federal court litigation. Here, Congress has authorized fee awards under each of the two statutes, the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq. and the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act. D.C. Code, Title 28, Appendix (Supp. V. 1978), upon which plaintiff relied in her claims for substantive relief. Where this is so, the Supreme Court has held that plaintiffs who substantially prevail on their non-fee claims are entitled to recover attorneys' fees even if their fee-generating claims have not been reached by the Court. Maher v. Gagne, 448 U.S. 122, 100 S. Ct. 2570, 65 L. Ed. 2d 653 (1980) (hereinafter Maher ). This Court's reliance upon Alyeska in denying attorneys' fees, accordingly, was misplaced.

 The Supreme Court in Maher rejected the argument that attorneys' fees should be denied where a fee-generating claim is joined with a non-fee-generating claim, and recovery is had on the latter without reaching the merits of the former. In Maher, a settlement had been reached in a case which joined a non-fee claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which permits attorneys' fee awards, inter alia, in civil rights cases involving constitutional violations. The parties agreed as part of their settlement to submit the attorneys' fee claim to the District Court to which the consent decree was being submitted for approval. The District Court awarded a fee, and the defendant appealed, arguing that since the District Court had declined to rule on the constitutional claim which was the predicate for the fee award, plaintiff was not entitled to recover any fee.

 It does not matter which claim induced the concessions or which claim would have been successful at trial, as long as the (fee-generating) claim is substantial and arises from the same operative facts as the non-fee claim. (Id.)

 In the instant case, plaintiff has unquestionably prevailed on her common law claims. The Court found that the contract and transaction in issue were void and unenforceable on grounds of fraud, misrepresentation and unconscionability. The fee-generating claims under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedural Act and the Truth in Lending Act arose from the same operative facts as the non-fee claim. They also concerned the same issues, i.e., the lack of notice and failure to disclose significant terms, and the concomitant extent of fraud and misrepresentation in the loan transaction. Further, the fee-generating claims, while not reached, were substantial.

 This Court would defeat the legislative intent of fee provisions of the statutes here involved, which is to encourage vindication of important rights on the part of plaintiffs who ordinarily could not afford to ventilate their claims, were it to deny recovery merely because the fee-generating claim was not reached. Accordingly, the Court awards attorneys' fees to plaintiff.

 II.

 Plaintiff's attorneys seek the following award:

 The Court awards reasonable attorneys' fees and costs based on the framework set forth in Copeland v. Marshall, 205 U.S. App. D.C. 390, 641 F.2d 880 (D.C.Cir.1980) (hereinafter Copeland ). While this case is not a Title VII suit like Copeland, Copeland's analysis applies here as it sets forth a general framework for awarding attorneys' fees. The Court initially determines a lodestar award, which is the reasonable number of hours spent on the case times a reasonable rate for the various persons who worked on the case. The Court then adjusts the lodestar up or down after examining and weighing the twelve criteria established in Johnson v. Georgia Highway, Inc., 488 F.2d 714 (5th Cir. 1974), the most important criteria being the contingent nature of the fee and the quality of representation.* Copeland at 892-93.

 Plaintiff has provided detailed records of the time logged and daily services rendered by her attorneys. A summary of the ...


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