United States District Court, District of Columbia
THEODORE WESBY, et al. Plaintiffs,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants. Re Document: 90, 96
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge
In Part And Denying In Part Plaintiffs’ Supplemental
Motions For Attorney’s Fees
Plaintiffs in this case are sixteen individuals who brought a
civil rights suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
District of Columbia and five police officers after they were
arrested while attending a party. This Court granted
Plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion with respect to
Plaintiffs’ false arrest and unlawful entry claims
against Officers Campanale, Parker, and the District of
Columbia. See Wesby v. District of Columbia, 841
F.Supp.2d 20 (D.D.C. April 9, 2015). This Court also granted
Defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgment on all
claims against the police officers in their official
capacities. See Id. At trial, the jury returned a
verdict in favor of the sixteen Plaintiffs, awarding them
$680, 000 in compensatory damages against Defendants
Campanale, Parker, and the District of Columbia. See
Jury Verdict, ECF No. 73. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a
motion seeking attorney’s fees and costs, which this
Court granted. See Order on Pls.’ Mot. for
Att’y Fees and Costs at 1, ECF No. 86. In calculating
Plaintiffs’ fee award of $246, 896.25, this Court
relied on the hourly rates set forth in the United States
Attorneys’ Office (“USAO”) Laffey
Matrix. See Id. Defendants appealed this fee award,
while Plaintiffs did not. See Defs.’ Notice of
Appeal, ECF No. 88.
also appealed the district court’s ruling granting
Plaintiffs summary judgment on the false arrest and unlawful
entry claims. See Wesby v. District of Columbia, 765
F.3d 13 (D.C. Cir. 2015). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia affirmed the district court’s
grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. See
Id. Plaintiffs filed a supplemental motion for
attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and Rule 54
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seeking fees relating
to the appeal. See Pls.’ Suppl. Mot. for
Att’y Fees, ECF No. 90.
then moved for rehearing en banc on November 3,
2014. See Defs.’ Mem. P. & A. Opp’n
Pls.’ 2d Suppl. Mot. for Att’y Fees and Costs at
1, ECF No. 101 [hereinafter “Defs.’ 2d Mem.
Opp’n”]. The Court of Appeals denied
Defendants’ motion for rehearing on February 8, 2016.
See Wesby v. District of Columbia, 816 F.3d 96 (D.C.
Cir. 2016) (order denying Defendants’ motion for
rehearing en banc). Plaintiffs filed a second
supplemental motion for attorney’s fees for
counsel’s work relating to the en banc
proceedings. See Pls.’ 2d Suppl. Mot. for
Att’y Fees Re Appeal at 1, ECF No. 96.
motions for attorney’s fees, Plaintiffs request fees
calculated using hourly rates under the Enhanced
Laffey Matrix. See Pls.’ Mem. P.
& A. Supp. Mot. for Att’y Fees and Costs at 4, ECF
No. 90 [hereinafter “Pls.’ 1st Mem.
Supp.”]; id. Ex. 3, ECF No. 90-3; Pls.’
Mem. P. & A. Supp. Mot. for Att’y Fees and Costs at
4, ECF No. 96 [hereinafter “Pls.’ 2d Mem.
Supp.”]; id. Ex. 3, ECF No. 96-3.
Plaintiffs’ counsel submitted affidavits cataloguing
the number of hours he worked on this case. See
Pls.’ 1st Mem. Supp., Ex. 2, ECF No. 90-2; Pls.’
2d Mem. Supp., Ex. 2, ECF No. 96-2. Defendants oppose
Plaintiffs’ proposed fees on the grounds that they are
unreasonable, claiming: (1) that the Enhanced Laffey
Matrix does not represent the prevailing market rates in the
relevant community and (2) that Plaintiffs failed to
establish that the time expended working on the case was
reasonable. See Defs.’ Mem. P. & A.
Opp’n Pls.’ Mot. for Att’y Fees and Costs
at 3-10, ECF No. 92 [hereinafter “Defs.’ 1st Mem.
Opp’n”]; Defs.’ 2d Mem. Opp’n at 3-7,
ECF No. 101. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
grant in part and deny in part Plaintiffs’ motions for
attorney’s fees relating to the appeal.
civil rights suit brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
“the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing
party, other than the United States, a reasonable
attorney’s fee.” 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b).
Plaintiffs may be considered prevailing parties, and thus
entitled to attorney’s fees, “if they succeed on
any significant issue in litigation which achieves some of
the benefit the parties sought in bringing suit.”
Harvey v. Mohammed, 951 F.Supp.2d 47, 53 (D.D.C.
2013) (quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424,
433 (1983)) (internal quotation marks and alterations
omitted)). A litigant need not succeed at every step of the
litigation in order to be a prevailing party for the purpose
of § 1988; indeed, “a litigant who is unsuccessful
at a stage of litigation that was a necessary step to her
ultimate victory is entitled to attorney’s fees even
for the unsuccessful stage.” Air Transp.
Ass’n of Can. v. F.A.A., 156 F.3d 1329, 1335 (D.C.
Cir. 1998) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
bear the burden of establishing both their entitlement to
attorney’s fees and the reasonableness of the fees they
seek. See Covington v. District of Columbia, 57 F.3d
1101, 1107 (D.C. Cir. 1995); Turner v. D.C. Bd. of
Elections & Ethics, 354 F.3d 890, 895 (D.C. Cir.
2004). A plaintiff can satisfy this burden by submitting
evidence of: “the attorneys’ billing practices;
the attorneys’ skill, experience, and reputation; and
the prevailing market rates in the relevant community.”
Covington, 57 F.3d at 1107. Once the plaintiff has
provided such information, a presumption arises that the
hours billed are reasonable and the burden shifts to the
defendant to rebut the plaintiff’s showing.
Id. at 1109-10.
calculating a reasonable fee award, a district court must
determine: (1) a reasonable hourly rate (or
“lodestar”) for the services rendered by the
plaintiffs’ attorney, (2) the number of hours
reasonably expended on the litigation, and (3) whether
plaintiffs have offered specific evidence demonstrating that
this is one of the rare cases where a lodestar enhancement or
multiplier is appropriate. See Heller v. District of
Columbia, 832 F.Supp.2d 32, 38 (D.D.C. 2011);
Covington, 75 F.3d at 1107.
prevailed on appeal and are therefore entitled to reasonable
attorney’s fees. See 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b);
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 429. Defendants do not dispute
that Plaintiffs are the prevailing party, nor do Plaintiffs
argue that they merit a lodestar enhancement or multiplier.
See Defs’ 1st Mem. Opp’n at 1-10;
Pls.’ 1st Mem. Supp. at 1-5. Therefore, the Court will
not address these issues. Defendants argue that
Plaintiffs’ requested fees are unreasonable because the
Enhanced Laffey Matrix does not represent prevailing
market rates in the relevant community and counsel’s
time records are not contemporaneous and lack the requisite
specificity to establish a reasonable number of hours worked.
The Court will address each argument in turn.