United States District Court, D. Columbia
SHANTAE ROBERTS, AS PARENT/GUARDIAN OF D.R., Plaintiff:
Carolyn W. Houck, LAW OFFICE OF CAROLYN HOUCK, St. Michaels,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant: Tasha Monique Hardy, LEAD
ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL/DC, Washington, DC.
A. ROBINSON, United States Magistrate Judge.
Shantae Roberts brings this action to recover $38,086 in
attorneys' fees and costs that she incurred in connection
with administrative proceedings conducted pursuant to the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("
IDEA" ), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq.
Complaint (Document No. 1). Pending for determination are
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment ("
Plaintiff's Motion" ) (Document No. 11) and
Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment ("
Defendant's Motion" ) (Document No. 13). Upon
consideration of the motions, the memoranda in support
thereof and opposition thereto, the attached exhibits, and
the entire record herein, the court will grant
Plaintiff's motion in part, and deny Defendant's
motion as moot.
Shantae Roberts is the parent of D.R., a minor student
residing in the District of Columbia who is eligible to
receive special education and related services. See
Plaintiff's Memorandum of Points and Authorities in
Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgement
(" Plaintiff's Memorandum" ) (Document No.
11-1) at 2. Plaintiff filed an administrative due process
complaint against District of Columbia Public Schools ("
DCPS" ) on April 11, 2014, in which she raised a number
of issues " alleg[ing] that [DCPS] failed to comply with
its affirmative obligation to identify, locate, and evaluate
[D.R.] over several years to determine her need for special
education based on [D.R.'s} problem behaviors in school
and repeated requests for evaluation . . . ." Hearing
Officer Determination (Document No. 11-5) at 1. After
conducting a hearing on Plaintiff's complaint, the
Hearing Officer issued a determination (" HOD" ) on
June 3, 2014, finding in Plaintiff's favor. Id.
the hearing officer's determination, Plaintiff commenced
an action in this court seeking $38,086 in attorneys'
fees and costs that she incurred in the underlying
administrative proceedings. Plaintiff's Memorandum at 7.
OF THE PARTIES
submits that she was the prevailing party in this action and
is, therefore, entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees and
costs as provided by the applicable authorities. See
Plaintiff's Memorandum (Document No. 11-1) at 3.
Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks a total of $38,086, which
reflects $37,350 in attorneys' fees at a rate of $450 per
hour. See Plaintiff's Invoice (Document No.
11-6) at 1. Plaintiff avers that the hourly rates billed by
her counsel are reasonable, given her 17 years of experience
in special education law and applicable prevailing market
rates established by the Laffey
matrix. Plaintiff's Memorandum (Document
No. 11-1) at 4-5. Plaintiff further contends that the number
of hours requested are also reasonable. Id. at 5.
concedes that Plaintiff was the prevailing party in the
underlying administrative proceedings, and makes no argument
with regard to the reasonableness of the number of hours
claimed. See Defendant's Opposition to
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgement and Cross-Motion
for Summary Judgment (" Defendant's Memorandum"
) at 3. That being said, Defendant takes issue with
Plaintiff's request of attorneys' fees at a rate of
$450 per hour. Id. at 1. Defendant contends that
Plaintiff has " failed to set forth a scintilla of
evidence that the matter upon which this suit is based was
particularly complicated or somehow not the ordinary
run-of-the-mill IDEA matter." Id. at 2-3.
argues, therefore, that an award of attorney's fees at
three-quarters of the applicable Laffey rate is
warranted under these circumstances, yielding a rate of
$337.50 per hour. Id. at 9. The only issue that
Defendant raises with regard to costs is that an award
representing travel time should be at 50 percent of the
reduced applicable Laffey rate. Id. at
counters Defendant's assertions by claiming that the
administrative proceeding was sufficiently complex as
evidenced by the amount of time spent in preparation for the
administrative hearing and requisite knowledge.
Plaintiff's Reply to Defendant's Response in
Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Defendant's
Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (" Plaintiff's
Reply" ) (Document No. 14) at 2-3. Moreover, Plaintiff
reasserts her position that an award at the full
Laffey rate represents the prevailing market rate
for an attorney of her counsel's experience, and is,
therefore, wholly appropriate. Id. at 3-4. Lastly,
as alternate relief, Plaintiff requests that the Court award
her attorneys' fees at three-quarters of the current
Laffey rate or $345 per hour. Id. at