and sovereign immunity, on the grounds that this research involved individual claims upon which Lebron did not prevail. The Court rejected this argument above, and thus the hours are not inappropriate on those grounds. Moreover, the Court notes that research on sovereign immunity would have related to WMATA, not the individual defendants. Therefore, the 25 hours of law clerk time will be approved.
WMATA also challenges Lebron's attorneys' hours for drafting pleadings and other papers. Weightman claims 86.25 hours drafting and editing the pleadings before the trial court, 27.25 hours drafting proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, 61.25 hours drafting pleadings seeking an injunction pending appeal, 24.5 hours drafting the reply brief, and 23 hours drafting the supplemental mootness brief. Clearly, 222.25 billable hours, the equivalent of six or seven solid weeks worth of work, is an excessive amount of time to spend drafting the pleadings in this case. Although it is likely that this was primarily due to the fact that Weightman was only a first- or second-year associate, a portion of the inefficiency must be traced to his and Roth's inexperience in the First Amendment area. Accordingly, the Court believes that the trial court drafting time should be reduced to 65 hours, the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law time should be reduced to 20 hours, and the pleadings for an injunction pending appeal should be reduced to 45 hours. The drafting hours for the appellate briefs are reasonable and will not be reduced.
Roth devoted a total of 12.5 hours to reviewing and editing the motions for injunction pending appeal and the appellate briefs. WMATA does not challenge this total (except to draw reference to the great disparity between Roth's time and Weightman's time) and the Court finds that it is reasonable.
d. Oral Argument
WMATA challenges Weightman's claim of 25 hours and Roth's claim of nine hours preparing for and attending oral argument before the Court of Appeals. Weightman actually recorded a rather remarkable 76.5 hours preparing for the argument (almost two full 40-hour weeks), but excluded 51.5 hours in the exercise of billing judgment. The Court finds that 23 hours is not an unreasonable preparation time for a second-year associate about to argue a case before a United States Court of Appeals, and seven hours is not an unreasonable amount of time for the supervising partner. The Court will, however, strike Roth's claim for 0.75 hours to "evaluate" Weightman's oral argument, and Weightman's claim for 2.25 hours to "review" the oral argument. Those costs are not appropriately passed on to a client or, in this case, to the losing party.
e. Allocation of Tasks
WMATA objects to Weightman's performance of tasks that arguably could have been performed less expensively by paralegals. When a fee petition is based on a firm's normal billing rate, a court should be hesitant to challenge an allocation of tasks that is consistent with the firm's normal staffing practice. Laffey, 746 F.2d at 25-26. Here, WMATA challenges Weightman's claim of 1.25 hours spent filing the complaint and amended complaint, 15.75 hours spent assembling record cites for the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and 19.25 hours spent assembling record cites for the appellate brief. Weightman concedes that a portion of the time spent assembling record cites was devoted to proofreading, but claims that a large portion was devoted to discretionary selections that must be performed by the attorney. Clearly, the filing of documents with the Court should be delegated to support staff. Likewise, the proofreading of documents for typographical errors should be delegated. Therefore, the Court will allocate the 1.25 filing hours and seven of the remaining hours to paralegal work.
Lebron claims an additional 32.5 hours of law clerk time for cite checking and research, and 10 hours of paralegal time. WMATA's only challenge to these claims is with respect to 25 hours of law clerk research related to claims against the individual defendants. Because the Court must reject WMATA's argument that the individual claims are "unrelated" to the institutional claims and therefore non-compensable, these hours will be included in the fee award. Accordingly, Lebron will be awarded fees for 32.5 hours of law clerk time and 18.25 hours of paralegal time.
Weightman claims eight hours and Roth claims 1.5 hours in connection with settlement negotiations. These hours are not excessive, and will be approved. Additionally, Weightman's fee submission includes 28.25 hours for conferences with Lebron and other attorneys, 14.25 hours spent reviewing WMATA's pleadings and this Court's orders, and three hours to draft minor pleadings. Roth claims a total of 8.25 hours for general supervisory tasks during the time period between the denial of the TRO and the final decision in the Court of Appeals. WMATA does not seriously challenge these claims and the Court finds them reasonable.
3. The Lodestar
The lodestar for Weightman's and Roth's work on the merits is calculated as follows:
Services Attorney Rate Hours Total
Administrative work useful Weightman $ 57 15.5 $ 883.50
and necessary to litigation
Preparation for and attendance Weightman 57 20.0 1,140.00
" 65 35.0 2,275.00
Roth 115 24.0 2,760.00
Research Weightman 57 40.0 2,280.00
" 65 84.5 5,492.00
law clerks 35 32.5 1,137.50
Drafting Weightman 57 65.0 3,705.00
" 65 112.5 7,312.50
Roth 115 12.5 1,437.50
Conferences, review of Weightman 57 31.25 1,781.25
minor pleadings " 65 14.25 926.25
Roth 115 8.25 948.75
Settlement negotiations Weightman 65 8.0 520.00
Roth 115 1.5 172.50
Document handling paralegal 32 18.25 584.00
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.