United States District Court, District of Columbia
GLADYS KESLER, District Judge.
Plaintiff Andrea Hawkins seeks to collect attorneys' fees and costs incurred in bringing an administrative action under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq. Defendant is Potomac Lighthouse Public Charter School ("Potomac").
On January 17, 2014, Magistrate Judge Robinson issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that both Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 26] and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 27] be granted in part and denied in part. On January 30, 2014, Defendant filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation [Dkt. No. 33], and on February 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendant's Objections [Dkt. No. 34]. Upon consideration of the Objections, Response, the Report and Recommendation, and the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, the Report and Recommendation is adopted in part, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted in part and denied in part, and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is granted in part and denied in part.
On September 5, 2010, Plaintiff filed a due process complaint on behalf of her minor daughter, A.H., against Defendant and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education ("OSSE"). The complaint raised five issues, two of which concerned the provision of free appropriate public education ("FAPE") during the 2008-2009 school year.
On October 12, 2010, Plaintiff and Potomac reached a settlement on the claims related to the 2008-2009 school year. The settlement agreement specified that Plaintiff would withdraw all claims against Potomac and Potomac would provide compensatory education, including independent tutoring, a semester of dance class, and summer camp. In addition, Potomac agreed to pay "reasonable and documented attorneys' fees related to the issues surrounding the provision of FAPE for the 2008-2009 school year and incurred as of August 27, 2010." Pls.' Mot. at Ex. 2, at 2 [Dkt. No. 26-2, at 26]. Potomac proceeded with a due process hearing against OSSE on its other claims.
On November 24, 2010, Plaintiff's attorney submitted an invoice to Defendant requesting $7, 191.54 in fees and costs. Defendant reimbursed Plaintiff's attorney $1, 377.33, but disputed the remaining balance of $5, 814.21. Plaintiff then filed a claim in the Small Claims and Conciliation Branch of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia seeking $5, 000 in additional fees. Statement of Claim [Dkt. No. 1, at 6].
On February 16, 2012, Potomac removed the action to this, Court [Dkt. No. 1]. On March 2, 2012, this case was referred to Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson for full case management [Dkt. No. 6]. On April 16, 2012, Magistrate Judge Robinson denied Plaintiff's Motion to Remand [Dkt. No. 12].
On February 22, 2013, Magistrate Judge Robinson issued a Report and Recommendation [Dkt. No. 21] recommending that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 14] be granted in part and denied in part and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 16] be denied in part. On March 8, 2013, Defendant filed Objections [Dkt. No. 22] to that Report and Recommendation and Plaintiff did not file a Response to those Objections.
Before the Court resolved the Objections, it came to the Court's attention that Plaintiff had sought fees arising from the same administrative proceeding in another case, before a different Judge on this bench, Moore v. Dist. of Columbia, Case No. 12-1704. On March 29, 2013, the Court denied without prejudice both Plaintiff's Motion and Defendant's Cross-Motion and ordered counsel for Plaintiff to file a declaration clarifying the nature of the fees sought in the two cases [Dkt. No. 24].
On April 8, 2013, Plaintiff's counsel filed a Response indicating that this action sought fees under the settlement agreement between these parties, whereas the fees at issue in Moore arose from the hearing that occurred on Plaintiff's claims against OSSE subsequent to that agreement [Dkt. No. 25].
On May 6, 2013, the parties filed renewed Motions for Summary Judgment [Dkt. Nos. 26, 27]. On January 17, 2014, Magistrate Judge Robinson issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that both Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 26] and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 27] be granted in part and denied in part. Defendant's Objections to that Report and Recommendation are now ripe for review.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72 and Local Civil Rule 72. 3, this Court reviews objections to the factual findings and legal conclusions of a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation de novo. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 (b) (3) ("The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to."); Local Civ. R. 72.3(c) ("A district judge shall make a de novo ...