Court Filings

Motion for attorney's fees in Evans case, U.S. District Court

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A motion by the ACLU and others for attorney's fees in the Evans case, filed in U.S. District Court.
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   1 Erik Strindberg (Bar No. 4154) Lauren I. Scholnick (Bar No. 7776) Kathryn Harstad (Bar No. 11012) STRINDBERG & SCHOLNICK, LLC 675 East 2100 South, Ste. 350 Salt Lake City, UT 84106 Telephone: (801) 359-4169 Facsimile: (801) 359-4313 erik@utahjobjustice.com lauren@utahjobjustice.com kass@utahjobjustice.com John Mejia (Bar No. 13965) Leah Farrell (Bar No. 13696) AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF UTAH FOUNDATION, INC. 355 N. 300 W. Salt Lake City, Utah 84103 Telephone: 801.521.9862 Facsimile: 801.532.2850 aclu@acluutah.org Joshua A. Block* ACLU LGBT Project 125 Broad Street, Floor 18  New York, New York, 10004 Telephone: (212) 549-2593 Facsimile: (212) 549-2650  jblock@aclu.org *Admitted pro hac vice  Attorneys for Plaintiffs IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH, CENTRAL DIVISION JONELL EVANS , STACIA IRELAND, MARINA GOMBERG, ELENOR HEYBORNE, MATTHEW BARRAZA, TONY MILNER, DONALD JOHNSON, and KARL FRITZ SCHULTZ, Plaintiffs, v. STATE OF UTAH , GOVERNOR GARY HERBERT , in his official capacity; and ATTORNEY SEAN REYES , in his official capacity, Defendants. PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS Case No. 2:14-cv-55 DAK Case 2:14-cv-00055-DAK Document 63 Filed 11/07/14 Page 1 of 24   2 Plaintiffs JoNell Evans, Stacia Ireland, Marina Gomberg, Elenor Heyborne, Matthew Barraza, Tony Milner, Donald Johnson, and Karl Fritz Schultz (collectively referred to as the “Plain ti ffs”)  by and through their undersigned attorneys, hereby submit this Motion and Memorandum for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs . As outlined below, Defendants State of Utah, Governor Gary Herbert, and Attorney General Sean Reyes (“Defendants”) should be required to  pay P laintiffs’   attorneys’ fees  in the amount of $130,418.50 and costs in the amount of $1,920.33 for a total award of $132,338.83. Additionally, as outlined below, the Court should augment, or increase, this amount over the base amount because of the risk counsel assumed and the likelihood that Plaintiffs would have had difficulty finding counsel in this case without fee enhancement. INTRODUCTION As this Court recognized in its injunction opinion, this case deals with “whether Utah’ s marriage bans preclude the State of Utah from recognizing the same-sex marriages that already occurred in Utah between December 20, 2013, and January 6, 2014. ”  Memorandum Decision & Order,  dated 5/19/2014, Dkt. #45, at 12. Plaintiffs, and more than 1,000 other same-sex couples, legally married under the laws of Utah, after this court enjoined the state from enforcing its ban on same-sex marriage in   Kitchen v. Herbert,  961 F.Supp.2d 1181 (D. Utah 2013). On January 8, 2014, the Defendants announced that they would not grant recognition to any of those marriages. When Plaintiffs filed their Complaint, no federal or state court in Utah or the Tenth Circuit had ruled on the legality of marital rights given and then summarily taken away. Thus, Plaintiffs were in uncharted legal territory. Because Def  endants’ refusal to recogni ze their marriages inflicted daily, ongoing harms to their family integrity, their finances, their dignity, Case 2:14-cv-00055-DAK Document 63 Filed 11/07/14 Page 2 of 24   3 and their psychological well-being, Plaintiffs needed to charge into that territory as quickly and effectively as possible, and do so with able counsel. All of the counsel for Plaintiffs agreed to represent Plaintiffs without charging fees of any sort. They did so despite knowing that the demands on their time and skills would be rigorous and the risk that they might never be compensated for their time was high. The demands on Plaintiffs’   attorneys’ time over many months proved to be immense, as the case proceeded on an expedited track and resulted in over a thousand pages of legal filings in a short period of time. Ultimately, Plaintiffs successfully challenged Defendants ’  steadfast refusal to honor their vested marital rights, and this Court granted a preliminary injunction requiring the State of Utah to recognize all marriages between same sex-couples performed with Utah licenses. Given the high degree of skill, experience, willingness to accept risk, and dedication necessary to reach this successful conclusion, Plaintiffs now move this Court to order Defendants  pay for their reasonable att orneys’ fees and costs through November 6, 2014, pursuant to District of Utah Local Civil Rules 54-2 and 42 U.S.C. § 1988.  LEGAL STANDARD In an action to enforce the provisions of 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 as part  of the costs . . . . ”  42 U.S.C. 1988(b). A prevailing party under § 1983 is entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust.   Hensley v.  Eckerhart  , 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983).  The court must begin by determining a “lodestar” amount, which is the “number of hours  reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonabl e hourly rate.”   Id.  at 433. The Case 2:14-cv-00055-DAK Document 63 Filed 11/07/14 Page 3 of 24   4 first step in calculating such a reasonable fee is determining a reasonable number of hours spent on the litigation.   Malloy v. Monahan , 73 F.3d 1012, 1017 (10th Cir. 1996). The second step is “multiplying the hours by a reasonable rate .”   Id.  at 1018 . “A reasonable rate is the prevailing market rate in the relevant community.”   Id.  To show their rates are reasonable, Plaintiffs must:  produce satisfactory evidence  –    in addition to the attorney’s ow n affidavits  –   that the requested rates are in line with those prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience, and reputation. A rate determined this way is normally deemed to be reasonable and is referred to …     as the prevailing market rate. Guides, Ltd. v. Yarmouth Grp. Prop. Mgmt., Inc. , 295 F.3d 1065, 1078 (10th Cir. 2002) (quoting  Blum v. Stenson , 465 U.S. 886, 895 n.11, (1984)). Once an applicant for attorneys ’   fees has carried the “burden of showing that the claimed rate and number of hours are reasonable” then the resulting product is presumed to be a “reasonable fee” under 42 U.S.C. § 1988.  Cooper v. State of Utah , 894 F.2d 1169, 1171 (10th Cir. 1990). However, that does not end the inquiry. The district court may consider other factors, including the results obtained, in adjusting the fee upward or downward.   Hensley , 461 U.S. at 434.  The most critical factor in determining the reasonableness of a fee award is “the degree of success obtained.”   Farrar v. Hobby , 506 U.S. 103, 114 (1992). If a “plaintiff has obtained excellent results, his attorney should recover a fully compensatory fee ” which usually encompasses all hours reasonably spent on the litigation and in some exceptional cases may include an enhanced award.   Hensley , 461 U.S. at 435 .  In such circumstances, “the fee award should not be reduced simply because the plaintiff failed to prevail on every contention raised in the lawsuit.”   Id .  Case 2:14-cv-00055-DAK Document 63 Filed 11/07/14 Page 4 of 24

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Jul 23, 2017
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