Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jackson v. District of Columbia

March 19, 2010

JOHNICE JACKSON ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document Nos.: 54, 58

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ADOPTING IN PART AND MODIFYING IN PART MAGISTRATE JUDGE FACCIOLA'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO ALTER JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the defendant's objections to the Report and Recommendation issued by Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola, issued February 16, 2010, addressing the defendant's motion to alter a prior judgment of this court. The plaintiffs, who commenced actions under the Individuals with Disabilities Education and Improvement Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq., moved for attorney's fees after prevailing in those proceedings. On March 26, 2009, this court, adopting in part and modifying in part a Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Facciola ("the First Report"), awarded the plaintiffs $24,425 in attorney's fees. The defendant subsequently filed this motion to alter the award, which the court referred to Magistrate Judge Facciola for a Report and Recommendation ("the Second Report"). For the reasons discussed below, the court adopts in part and modifies in part the Second Report and grants in part and denies in part the defendant's motion to alter judgment.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiffs are thirty-two minor children, their guardians and court-appointed educational advocates. 2d Report at 1. The plaintiffs prevailed in thirty-six due process hearings and reached two settlement agreements with the defendant. Id. Following the due process hearings, the plaintiffs filed a petition for attorney's fees in the amount of $64,886 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), Local Civil Rule 54.2 and 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B).

Pls.' Pet. for Atty's Fees ("Pls.' Pet.") at 1-2. The court then referred the plaintiffs' petition to Magistrate Judge Facciola for a Report and Recommendation on whether the plaintiffs were entitled to attorney's fees and, if so, the proper measure of such an award. 2d Report at 1-2.

On February 26, 2009, Magistrate Judge Facciola issued the First Report, recommending that the court grant in part and deny in part the plaintiffs' petition for fees. Id. The defendant objected to four aspects of the First Report: (1) the application of the Laffey Matrix*fn1 hourly rates as the measure of reasonable attorney's fees; (2) the awarding of fees for services performed by attorney Abdus-Shahid; (3) the awarding of fees for services performed by the individual identified as "JMS"; and (4) the awarding of fees for services performed by the educational advocate for plaintiff N.R. See Mem. Op. (Mar. 26, 2009) at 2. The court adopted in part and modified in part the First Report and awarded the plaintiffs $24,425 in attorney's fees. See generally id. Specifically, the court concluded that the Laffey Matrix provided an appropriate basis for assessing the reasonableness of the fees sought, reduced the recommended fee awards for the services provided by attorney Abdus-Shahid*fn2 and the individual identified as "JMS"*fn3 and concluded that the education advocate for N.R. was not entitled to fees. See generally id.

On April 2, 2009, the defendant filed a motion to alter the court's ruling. See generally Def.'s Mot. to Alter J. The defendant asserted that the court erred by (1) applying the Laffey Matrix as the measure of reasonable attorney's fees in this case, (2) awarding any fees for the services performed by attorney Abdus-Shahid and (3) by awarding any fees for the services performed by the individual identified as "JMS." See generally id. The court referred the motion to Magistrate Judge Facciola for a Second Report and Recommendation, Minute Order (Apr. 2, 2009), which he issued on February 16, 2010, see generally 2d Report. The Second Report recommends that the court deny the defendant's motion in all respects. See generally 2d Report. The defendant promptly filed objections to the Second Report, asserting the same three errors raised in its motion to alter judgment. See generally Def.'s Objections to Feb. 16, 2010 Report & Recommendation ("Def.'s Objs."). The plaintiffs filed their response to the defendant's objections on March 8, 2010, see generally Pls.' Opp'n to Def.'s Objs. ("Pl.'s Opp'n"), and the defendant filed a reply on March 15, 2010, see generally Def.'s Reply. With this matter now ripe for adjudication, the court turns to the applicable legal standards and the parties' arguments.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for a Rule 59(e) Motion

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) provides that a motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed within twenty-eight days of the entry of the judgment at issue. FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e). While the court has considerable discretion in ruling on a Rule 59(e) motion, the reconsideration and amendment of a previous order is an unusual measure. Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (per curiam); McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 (9th Cir. 1999). Rule 59(e) motions "need not be granted unless the district court finds that there is an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear legal error or prevent manifest injustice." Ciralsky v. Cent. Intelligence Agency, 355 F.3d 661, 671 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (quoting Firestone, 76 F.3d at 1208). Moreover, "[a] Rule 59(e) motion to reconsider is not simply an opportunity to reargue facts and theories upon which a court has already ruled," New York v. United States, 880 F. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.