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.

Roberts v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia

September 30, 2015

SHANTAE ROBERTS, as Parent/Guardian of D.R, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

          For SHANTAE ROBERTS, AS PARENT/GUARDIAN OF D.R., Plaintiff: Carolyn W. Houck, LAW OFFICE OF CAROLYN HOUCK, St. Michaels, MD.

         For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant: Tasha Monique Hardy, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL/DC, Washington, DC.

Page 405

         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         DEBORAH A. ROBINSON, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff 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

Page 406

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.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff 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. at 1-13.[1]

         Following 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.

         CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

         Plaintiff 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.[2] 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.

         Defendant 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. Defendant

Page 407

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 9-10.

         Plaintiff 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 5.[3]

         APPLICABLE ...


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.