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U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Trade Exchange Network Ltd.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 9, 2015

COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
TRADE EXCHANGE NETWORK LIMITED, an Irish company, and INTRADE THE PREDICTION MARKET LIMITED, an Irish company, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROYCE C. LAMBERTH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiffs Motion for Attorneys' Fees [63]. Upon consideration of the record and applicable legal standards, the Court concludes that the plaintiff is entitled to attorneys' fees in the amount of $45, 877.50.

I. BACKGROUND

In this case, the plaintiff, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the "Commission") brought suit against defendants Trade Exchange Network Limited ("TEN") and Intrade the Prediction Market Limited ("Intrade") for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq. (2002), and the Commission's Regulations, 17 C.F.R. §§ 1.1 et seq. (2004). Compl. 1.

After over a year of litigation, the Commission filed a motion to compel in January 2014, asking that the Court order the defendants to cooperate in discovery and produce documents and interrogatory responses. ECF No. 25. The Court granted the Commission's motion to compel in June 2014 and ordered that the defendants fulfill their discovery obligations. ECF No. 33.

In support of its memorandum, the Commission has provided declarations from Ms. Banar and Mr. Deacon, consisting of time sheets created by the attorneys and explanations of the time spent, as well as an updated version of the "'Laffey Matrix." Id. at Exhibits \-A. The Commission utilizes the Lajfey Matrix to determine the reasonable hourly rates of Ms. Banar and Mr. Deacon's work, and the defendants do not oppose the use of the Laffey Matrix in this regard. Id. at 5-6; see also Def's 0pp. Pl.'s Pet. Att'y Fees (failing to challenge use of the Laffey Matrix).

According to the Matrix, a reasonable hourly rate for Ms. Banar, who has practiced law for over twenty-six years, is $510 per hour for the work she conducted on the Commission's Motion to Compel [25] and Reply [30] from June 2013-May 2014 and $520 for the work she performed in preparing her Declaration in Support of the Petition [63] from June 2014-May 2015. Pl.'s Pet. Att'y Fees 6-7. Based on the Matrix, a reasonable hourly rate for Mr. Deacon, who has practiced law for seventeen years, is $460 per hour. Id. at 7.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

Attorneys' fees awarded for a violation of Rule 37 are calculated using the lodestar method: a reasonable hourly rate multiplied by a reasonable number of hours expended. Cobell v. Norton, 231 F.Supp.2d 295, 300 (D.D.C. 2002).

In order to be considered reasonable, the hourly rate must be in line with rates charged by other attorneys in the community of comparable skill, reputation, and ability. Laffey v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 746 F.2d 4, 16 (D.C. Cir. 1984). District of Columbia courts generally accept the Matrix from Laffey, in updated form, as an accurate reflection of the reasonable hourly rates of attorneys within the District. See Bode & Grenier, LLP v. Knight, No. 08-1323 DAR, 2014 WL of Concerned Veterans v. Sec 'y of Def., 675 F.2d 1319, 1327 (D.C. Cir. 1982); see also Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433-37 (stating that courts have broad discretion to determine the reasonableness of fees in light of the circumstances surrounding the case). Additionally, courts are permitted to reduce a fee by a percentage if "a large number of entries suffer from one or more deficiencies." DL V. D.C, 256 F.R.D. 239, 245 (D.D.C. 2009).

III. CHALLENGE TO THE SCOPE OF FEES REQUESTED

In their opposition to the Commission's motion for attorneys' fees, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs claimed hours include time spent on non-compensable tasks. Def's Opp. PL's Pet. Att'y Fees 3-4. Specifically, defendants claim that the Commission is only entitled to fees that it incurred following the June 24th order [33]. Id. The defendants' opposition, however, fails to take into account this Court's first attorney fee order [37], under which the plaintiff has not yet been compensated. Thus, the defendants' argument on this point is unavailing.

The plaintiff has only requested fees incurred during preparation of documents explicitly listed in this Court's two awards of attorneys' fees, in addition to fees incurred during preparation of its Petition (which the defendants did not directly address and the Court finds acceptable under Tequila Centinela v. Bacardi & Co., 248 F.R.D. 64, 72 (D.D.C. 2008) ("[T]ime reasonably devoted to obtaining attorney's fees in the context of litigation where the court must be petitioned for such an ...


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