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Boseman v. Prestige Auto Sales, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

April 6, 2018

SHERYL BOSEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
PRESTIGE AUTO SALES, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees and Plaintiff's Motion to Ascertain Status, requesting this Court to award attorney fees under 15. U.S.C. § 1640(a)(3) and for status on Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney Fees. For the reasons provided below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees and STRIKES for mootness Plaintiff's Motion to Ascertain Status.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In September of 2015, Plaintiff entered into an agreement with the Defendant to purchase a Chevrolet Cobalt. (Doc. No. 31 at 1). Plaintiff could not afford to pay the whole purchase price, so Defendant sold the car to Plaintiff on credit at ¶ 22% interest, and Plaintiff agreed to repay the loan in forty-one payments. (Id.). In accordance with the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1601 et seq. (“TILA”), Defendant provided Plaintiff a disclosure statement that included a disclosure of payments scheduled for Plaintiff to repay toward the loan. (Id.). While the schedule provided due dates for the Plaintiff's payments, it did not provide a due date for the final payment. See 15 U.S.C. §1638(a)(6). Plaintiff filed an action on April 13, 2016, under 15 U.S.C. §1638(a)(6), on the sole claim that Defendant failed to disclose the due date for the final payment in violation of the TILA. (Doc. No. 31 at 2).

         On July 25, 2017, this Court granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment due to Defendant's failure to respond to Plaintiff's motion and failure to respond to the Court's Order to show cause. (Doc. No. 34 at 1). This Court awarded Plaintiff $1, 994.92 in statutory damages in accordance with 15 U.S.C. §1640(a)(2)(A)(i). (Id.). Plaintiff now requests attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $12, 094.00. (Id.).

         II. ATTORNEY FEES UNDER TILA

         The TILA provides in part:

[A] creditor who fails to comply with any requirements imposed under this part, . . . with respect to any person is liable to such person in an amount equal to the sum of- (3) in the case of any successful action to enforce the foregoing liability. . . the costs of the action, together with reasonable attorney's fee as determined by the court. . .

15 U.S.C. §1640(a)(3).

         TILA provides for a successful claimant to recover reasonable attorney's fees as a separate and distinct category from actual damages. Purtle v. Eldridge Auto Sales, Inc., 91 F.3d 797, 802 (6th Cir. 1996). Reasonable attorney's fees are not limited by the amount of a plaintiff's recovery. Id. Since the statue does not explain the meaning of “reasonable” fee, the determination of attorney's fees is in the discretion of the Courts. Perdue v. Kenny A. ex. Rel. Winn, 559 U.S. 542 (2010). “The judge's discretion is not unlimited. It is essential that the judge provide a reasonably specific explanation for all aspects of a fee determination, including any award of an enhancement.” Perdue, 559 U.S. at 558.

         Courts use the lodestar amount, multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended on litigation by the reasonable hourly rate, to calculate reasonable attorney's fees. Smith v. Rock-Tenn Services, Inc., 2015 WL 13187062, at *1 (M.D. Tenn. Aug. 18, 2015). While there is a presumption that the lodestar figure represents a reasonable fee, district courts may consider other factors to determine whether the fee is reasonable. Six L's Packing Co. Inc. v. James Erica Beale, 2014 WL 12577348, at *3 (M.D. Tenn. May 28, 2014). Courts look to the degree of success obtained to determine reasonableness of a fee. Cramblit v. Fikse, 33 F.3d 633 (6th Cir. 1994); Derry v. Buffalo & Assoc., PLC, 2014 WL 4450146 (E.D. Tenn. Sept. 10, 2014). In some circumstances, after considering the amount and nature of damages awarded, a court may lower an award of fees. Cramblit, 33 F.3d at 635 (citing Citizens Against Tax Waste v. Westerville City School, 985 F.2d 255, 258 (6th Cir. 1993)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Reasonableness of Hourly Rate

         “A district court has broad discretion to determine what constitutes a reasonable hourly rate for an attorney.” Wayne v. Village of Sebring,36 F.3d 517, 533 (6th Cir.1994). The Court has broad discretion and should use the “prevailing market rate in the relevant community” to calculate a reasonable hourly rate. Adcock-Ladd v. Secretary of Treasury, 227 F.3d 343, 350 (6th Cir. 2014). The prevailing market rate is defined as “the rate that lawyers of comparable skill and ...


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