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Chennault v. Sutton

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville Division

August 6, 2014

REGINA SUTTON CHENNAULT, Plaintiff,
v.
PAMELA SUTTON, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

BRUCE GUYTON, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636, the Rules of this Court, and Standing Order 13-02.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 5, 2014, the District Judge entered judgment in favor of the Defendant, and pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505, awarded the Defendant her costs and attorney's fees reasonably incurred in litigating this action.

The Defendant filed a Memorandum in Support of Request for Costs, Expenses and Attorney Fees [Doc. 40], on June 3, 2014, moving the Court to award costs, expenses, and attorney fees totaling $12, 174.05. The District Judge entered an Order referring the request for costs, expenses, and attorney fees to the undersigned the next day. The Plaintiff failed to file a response in opposition to Defendant's request, and the time for doing so has expired, see E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.1; Fed.R.Civ.P. 5, 6.

II. POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

The Defendant states that defense counsel has provided legal services to the Defendant in this case for over three years. The Defendant maintains that the $12, 174.05 requested is reasonable for the services rendered.

As stated above, the Plaintiff has not filed a timely response in opposition to the relief sought. The Court may treat this failure to respond as acquiescence to the relief sought. See E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.2.

III. ANALYSIS

As an initial matter, the Court finds that the Defendant's request for costs, expenses, and fees in the amount of $12, 174.05 is unopposed, and it could be granted on this basis alone.

Nonetheless, the Court has considered the reasonableness of the Defendant's request. The Court finds that a lodestar analysis is the appropriate means for determining the fees reasonably incurred. See Adcock-Ladd v. Sec'y of the Treasury , 227 F.3d 343, 349 (6th Cir. 2000).

A. Hourly Rate Charged

Pursuant to the lodestar method, the Court considers, first, the reasonableness of the hourly rates charged by counsel. The Court's review of this issue is hindered by the fact that counsel for the Defendant has not stated the hourly rate charged by the attorneys who billed hours on this case. The Court has undertaken its own calculations to determine the hourly rates charged. It appears that Michael J. Bradford, a shareholder in the Ludeka Neely firm, has billed at a rate of $240 per hour. There are miscellaneous other personnel, who are identified by initials only, who billed at rates of approximately $125.00 per hour or less.[1] It appears that these persons were paralegals or other office personnel. The Court finds that the rates charged by these personnel and Mr. Bradford are reasonable.

The Court has also reviewed the rates charged by Andrew S. Neely, the senior shareholder at Ludeka Neely law firm. Again, Mr. Neely's hourly rate is not specifically stated, but it appears to the Court that Mr. Neely charged up to $380 per hour. [See Doc. 40 at 6, entry dated Feb. 28, 2011][2]. The Court finds that this ...


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