United States District Court, District of Columbia
Elizabeth T. Jester, James E. Williams, Jester & Williams, Great Falls, VA, for Plaintiffs.
Corliss Vaughn Adams, Tasha Monique Hardy, Office of the Attorney General, Washington, DC, for Defendant.
REGGIE B. WALTON, District Judge.
The plaintiffs brought suit against the Government of the District of Columbia to
recover attorneys' fees incurred during administrative proceedings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1415 (2006) (" IDEA" ). See Complaint (" Compl." ) ¶¶ 4-11. On March 30, 2012, the Court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. Garvin v. Dist. of Columbia, 851 F.Supp.2d 101, 103 (D.D.C.2012). Currently before this Court is the Plaintiffs' Motion for an Award of Attorney's Fees and Costs (" Pls.' Mot." ), seeking an award of the attorneys' fees and costs incurred in prosecuting this case. After considering the submissions of the parties, the Court concludes that it must grant in part and deny in part the plaintiffs' motion.
This litigation arises from the plaintiffs' successful prosecution of an administrative complaint against the District of Columbia Public Schools (" Public Schools" ) pursuant to the IDEA. See Compl. ¶ 4. Following the administrative hearing officer's decision in favor of the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs submitted a petition for attorneys' fees and costs to the Public Schools. Id. ¶ 5. The plaintiffs instituted this suit to recover outstanding attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $5,822.17 after receiving only partial payment from the defendant. Id. ¶¶ 5-11.
The plaintiffs then moved for summary judgment on their claim. Pls.' Mot. at 1. On March 30, 2012, the Court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, awarding the plaintiffs the full amount requested in attorneys' fees, but denying their request for prejudgment interest. See Garvin, 851 F.Supp.2d at 107-09.
The plaintiffs have now filed a motion for an award of attorneys' fees and costs, seeking $14,332.50 for legal services performed by Elizabeth T. Jester, Esq. and $510.58 for the costs incurred in pursuing the litigation before this Court. Pls.' Mot. at 1. The plaintiffs note that the requested amount does not include any fees relating to the issue of prejudgment interest, on which the plaintiffs did not prevail. Pls.' Reply at 5 n. 2. The defendant disputes the reasonableness of the requested fees, arguing that a " fees on fees" award is contrary to the intention of the IDEA and thus not reasonable, Def.'s Mem. at 6-7, and that Ms. Jester's hourly rate is not reasonable, id. at 3-5.
II. LEGAL ANALYSIS
Under the IDEA, " the court, in its discretion, may award reasonable attorneys' fees as part of the costs ... to a prevailing party who is the parent of a child with a disability." 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B)(i). In order to award attorneys' fees under the IDEA, a court must engage in a two-step inquiry, determining first whether the party seeking fees is the prevailing party and second, whether the requested fees are reasonable. Jackson v. Dist. of Columbia, 696 F.Supp.2d 97, 101 (D.D.C.2010). The defendant does not contest that the plaintiffs are " prevailing ...