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Blackman v. Dist. of Columbia

October 28, 2005

MIKEISHA BLACKMAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman United States District Judge

Claims of Marianna Ohe, Fonda Allen, and Kevin Saunders

OPINION AND ORDER

On March 30, 2004, this Court issued an Order granting motions for attorneys' fees and costs filed by Marianna Ohe for the minor child Daniel Ohe, Fonda Allen for the minor child Curtis Patterson, and Kevin Saunders for the minor child Keyarne Briscoe, but stating that the exact amounts of an appropriate award would be delineated in a separate Opinion." This Opinion and Order sets forth the specific amount of attorneys' fees owed in each case.*fn1

I. BACKGROUND

A. Marianna Ohe, for Minor Child Daniel Ohe

On October 7, 2002, plaintiff Marianna Ohe filed a request for a due process hearing based on the failure of the District of Columbia Schools ("DCPS") to provide proper placement for the Daniel Ohe. No hearing was conducted, and on January 2, 2003, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction compelling DCPS to hold a due process hearing. On February 28, 2003, after reviewing a report and recommendation from the Special Master, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion and directed DCPS to place Daniel at the Peninsula Village School in Louisville, Tennessee.

While the matter was being litigated, Ohe's parents had enrolled him in a short-term residential education program at Alldredge Academy. See Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Costs and Expenses (June 30, 2003) ("Ohe Mot.") at 1. The Order granting plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction did not address the issue of reimbursement to plaintiffs for the expense of Daniel's placement at Alldredge Academy. A due process hearing on the issue was held on June 4, 2003; on June 13, the hearing officer issued a determination granting plaintiffs' claim for reimbursement. On June 30, 2003, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking $22,696.04 in attorneys' fees and costs associated with the litigation of this issue.

B. Fonda Allen, for Minor Child Curtis Patterson

On June 14, 2002, plaintiff Fonda Allen filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to compel DCPS to comply with an October 30, 2001 hearing officer determination regarding proper placement for Curtis Patterson. On August 15, 2002, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion and ordered DCPS to offer an appropriate placement for Curtis. On August 27, 2002, plaintiffs filed a motion requesting $4821.00 in attorneys' fees and $186.62 in costs. Plaintiffs' reply in support of their motion also seeks $280.00 in fees incurred in the preparation of that brief.

C. Plaintiff Kevin Saunders, for Minor Child Keyarne Briscoe

On July 30, 2002, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to compel DCPS' compliance with a Hearing Officer Determination issued on June 28, 2002. On September 23, 2002, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion and ordered defendant to "take immediate steps to insure that Keyarne Briscoe receives and appropriate placement as soon as possible." On October 7, 2002, plaintiffs filed a motion requesting $6,951.00 in attorneys' fees and $198.54 in costs.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard for Evaluating Attorneys' Fees Petitions

The Court has previously set forth the appropriate analytical framework for determining the award of attorneys' fees and costs in special education cases like this one. See Blackman v. District of Columbia, 59 F. Supp.2d 37, 42-44 (D.D.C. 1999). To recover reasonable attorneys' fees, plaintiffs must first demonstrate that each is a prevailing party in the litigation. See id. at 40-41. The Court then must determine whether the fees sought are reasonable by calculating "the number of hours reasonably expended on the ...


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