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Allen v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 5, 2018

KEITH ALLEN et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Koyce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge

         In March 2000, Keith Allen sued the District of Columbia for violating the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400-1487. In 2001, the Court granted his motions for summary judgment and for attorneys fees. Since then, both sides-now joined by plaintiffs in ten other consolidated cases-have impelled an eighteen-year skirmish over the fee amount and payment. Today, they duel themselves to a draw.

         Pending before the Court are (hopefully) the final four motions in the case: plaintiffs' motion [118] for fees-on-fees; plaintiffs' motion [121] to alter the Court's June 2017 order directing D.C. to pay $18, 609.06 in post-judgment interest; D.C.'s motion [122] to alter the same order; and plaintiffs motion [141] to compel compliance with the Court's August 2015 order directing D.C. to pay plaintiffs $4000 for each action in the consolidated cases.[1] The Court takes up each in turn.

         I. First, the Court grants plaintiffs' motion for fees-on-fees and orders D.C. to pay fees and costs of $324, 277.78.

         In their initial motion, which incorporates previous filings in two of the consolidated cases, plaintiffs sought fees for the 904.81 hours their counsel spent litigating their prevailing fee claims (519 for lead counsel and 385.81 for his associate), paid according to the USAO matrix, as well as $1559.50 in costs.

         D.C. responded with detailed objections to 55.8 hours by lead counsel, 205.4 hours by his associate (objecting mainly to what it considered vague or inadequately documented entries), and $1054.80 in PACER costs (classifying them as unrecoverable "administrative overhead" and the result of plaintiff s failure to maintain diligent records). D.C. also argued that because plaintiffs did not present specific evidence justifying payment at the full USAO rates, the Court should award only 75% of the rates, and that the associate counsel should be compensated as a paralegal for work done prior to his admission to the D.C. Bar.

         In their reply, plaintiffs yielded to all but 11.1 hours of D.C.'s objections to their lead counsel's hours[2] and to 136.73 hours of D.C.'s objections to their associate counsel's hours. Plaintiffs appended new billing records with increased detail for the associate's remaining hours. Plaintiffs also accepted D.C.'s request to compensate the associate as a paralegal for work done before his admission to the D.C. Bar. As for the costs, plaintiffs fixed an arithmetic error raising their total claim to $1625 and argued that the $1054.80 in PACER costs were appropriate, although they indicated a willingness to concede those charges if necessary to facilitate a prompt award.

         D.C. sought leave to file a sur-reply, even though their only new argument was a broadside challenge to the associate's new timesheets as improperly reconstructed; D.C. did not object to any timesheet entry.

         So after all the briefing, the dispute before the Court has narrowed to:

• for plaintiffs' lead counsel, either 474.3 hours (according to plaintiffs) or 463.2 hours (according to D.C.) at $602 hourly[3];
• for plaintiffs' associate counsel, 248.58[4] total hours: 225 at $164 hourly, [5] 11 at $334, [6] and 12.58 at $346[7]; and
• for costs, either $1559.50 (plaintiffs original, mistaken request); $1625 (plaintiffs subsequent, corrected request); or $504.70 (plaintiffs original request less PACER costs).

         Today, the Court awards plaintiffs $324, 277.78 in fees and costs:

• $278, 846.40 comes from their lead counsel's 463.2 hours of work ...

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