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MacClarence v. Johnson

March 17, 2008

BILL MACCLARENCE, P.E., PLAINTIFF,
v.
STEPHEN L. JOHNSON, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge John M. Facciola United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case was referred to me for resolution of Plaintiff's Motion for Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs, and Memorandum in Support ("Doc. #13"). For the reasons stated below, the motion will be granted.

BACKGROUND

This action, filed pursuant to the citizen suit provisions of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7604(d),*fn1 sought to compel the defendant, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") to grant or deny a petition that had been filed by plaintiff, Bill MacClarence, under Title V of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7661d(b)(2) within the required sixty days.

After MacClarence filed suit, the EPA advised his counsel that it "intended to issue a response to MacClarence's Title V petition shortly after the time provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for the EPA to answer the complaint itself." Doc. #13 at 8.

MacClarence did not oppose two motions for an enlargement of time within which to answer the complaint that EPA filed and on April 20, 2007, EPA issued the order denying MacClarance's Title V petition. Id.

On May 21, 2007, MacClarence and EPA stipulated to the partial dismissal of the complaint, see Stipulation of Partial Dismissal, leaving only the issue of attorneys' fees.

While the EPA concedes MacClarence's entitlement to fees and costs, it refuses to pay plaintiff's counsel the rates in the Laffey Matrix, published by the United States Attorney's Office and named for the decision in Laffey v. Nw. Airlines, Inc., 572 F. Supp. 354 (D.D.C. 1983), aff'd in part, rev'd in part on other grounds, 746 F.2d 4 (D.C. Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 472 U.S. 1021 (1985).*fn2 Thus, I must resolve the hourly rate for plaintiff's counsel and the EPA's complaint that the hours spent on the litigation by plaintiff's counsel were excessive.

DISCUSSION

I. The Lawyers and Their Rates

Plaintiff was represented by two lawyers, Robert Ukeiley, who lives in Berea, Kentucky, and William M. Eddie, who lives in Portland, Oregon. Ukeiley seeks the Laffey rate of $375 per hour and Eddie $305. Doc. #13 at 25. The EPA insists that they should be paid the rates of their home forums of $200 per hour for Eddie and $250 for Ukeiley.

The difference in result is illustrated in the following chart:

LawyerHoursLaffey ratesHome forum ratesDifference Ukeiley22.6$8,475.00 (22.6 * $375)$5,650.00 (22.6 * $250)$2,825.00 Eddie27.9$8,509.50 (27.9 * ...


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