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MOORE v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

November 30, 1987

Lani Moore, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
District Of Columbia, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

 Stanely Sporkin, United States District Judge.

 Plaintiffs seek to collect attorneys' fees and other costs incurred in bringing successful administrative actions under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act ("EHA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.

 
1. the nature of the claim;
 
2. whether the plaintiff has prevailed on the merits;
 
3. how many hours were spent on the claim and how this time was spent;
 
4. the billing rate for this time;
 
5. the total amount claimed;

 I find that plaintiffs have fully complied with my Order.

 Preceding my Order, I emphasized that, "The parties are, of course, welcome to attempt to reach agreement between themselves . . ." as to the appropriate amount of attorneys' fees. See Lani Moore v. District of Columbia, 666 F. Supp. 263, 267 (D.D.C. 1987). Unfortunately, the parties were unable to reach a mutually satisfactory settlement of the attorneys' fees at issue in this case. I must therefore make that determination.

 At the outset, it is important to note that two discrete attorneys' fees requests are at issue. First, plaintiffs seek $30,910.85 for prevailing on the merits -- that is, in the original administrative actions in which the plaintiffs uniformly prevailed. Second, I must decide the appropriate amount of attorneys' fees to compensate plaintiffs for their efforts in the attorneys' fees litigation conducted in this court. Plaintiffs have requested $20,196.07 for this aspect of the litigation.

 To make a fair award of attorneys' fees, a number of issues must be resolved. I must determine the appropriate billing rate for those attorneys who participated in these cases; I must evaluate the appropriate number of billable hours spent on each matter; and I must decide to what extent each plaintiff was the prevailing party. Although this case involves nine individual handicapped children, the following findings apply equally to all individual plaintiffs.

 This case has been hotly contested by the parties. Because the arguments made by the parties in their respective papers starkly disagreed in their accounting of the facts, I decided it would be wise to conduct an evidentiary hearing. In so doing, I gave each side an opportunity to be heard and at the same time was able to evaluate the credibility of each side's witnesses. In addition, I enforced defendants' demands for the production of all of plaintiffs' billing records in this case -- including each and every one of their handwritten time charges (as well as computer print-outs aggregating those time charges). I have reviewed these documents. Based on the written and testimonial evidence, I make the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 A. The Rate

 The EHA provides that:

 
For the purpose of this subsection, fee awards under this subsection shall be based on rates prevailing in the community in which the action or proceeding arose in the kind and quality of services furnished. . .

 20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(4)(C).

 Pursuant to that statutory directive, I award plaintiffs' counsel attorneys' fees for partner time in these cases at the rate of $115.00 per hour except in the two cases where the plaintiffs were billed at an hourly rate of $100.00. *fn1" The appropriate associate rate is $75.00 per ...


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