United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
KATORIA S. WILLIAMS and DEMETRI M. FAULKNER, Plaintiffs,
SHELBY COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM, MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOL SYSTEM, and REGISTERED AGENT, MARJORIE N. DOUGLAS, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR
ADDITIONAL ATTORNEY'S FEES
L. PARKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Marjorie N. Douglas (“Douglas”) moves for an
award of additional attorney's fees and expenses incurred
in preparing her initial Motion for Attorney's Fees and
Expenses (ECF No. 110). (ECF No. 164.) Douglas seeks $ 3,
762.10 in additional fees. Plaintiffs have responded and
argue that such fees are unjustified under the circumstances.
(ECF No. 165.) In any event, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND
DENIES IN PART the Motion for the reasons below.
discussion of the facts underlying this litigation is
unnecessary as those details have been thoroughly discussed
in other orders. (See ECF Nos. 108 & 163.) That
said, the Court will summarize its Order Granting In Part and
Denying In Part the Motion for Attorney's Fees. (ECF No.
moved for an award of attorney's fees and expenses after
the Court granted her Motion to Dismiss. (See ECF
No. 110.) Douglas argued that such an award was warranted
under several statutes and this Court's inherent
authority. (Id.) Ultimately, the Court sided in part
with Douglas and awarded her fees and expenses totaling $47,
811.50. (See ECF No. 163.) The fees were
awarded under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 and Tennessee Code
Annotated § 29-20-113(a).
the Court determined that Valerie Vie and Lucinda Jones acted
in a manner that fell objectively short of the duty owed by
attorneys to the Court and, that in doing so, they abused the
judicial process. (ECF No. 163 at PageID 1263-65.) These
actions created a needless multiplication of the proceedings
and an expansive litigation bill for Douglas. This Court
found that this conduct was sanctionable under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1927. (Id. at PageID 1265.) So a sanction in
the amount of $39, 842.92 was imposed against Ms. Vie and Ms.
Jones under that statute. (Id. at PageID 1269.)
the Court awarded Douglas fees under a Tennessee fee shifting
statute. (ECF No. 163 at PageID 1271-72.) This statute
requires courts to award reasonable attorney's fees and
expenses to a prevailing state employee sued in her
individual capacity for actions arising out of her official
capacity. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-113. The Court held
that this statute embodies a substantive policy of the State
that does not interfere with a valid federal statute or court
rule. (Id. at PageID 1271.) So the statute was
applied to this case. The Court limited the award under this
statute to the state-law claims brought against Douglas in
her individual capacity. (Id.) This resulted in
Plaintiffs being liable for $7, 968.58 in attorney's fees
and expenses to Douglas. So the total amount awarded to
Douglas was $47, 811.50. (ECF No. 164.)
this award, Douglas moved for attorney's fees and
expenses incurred in preparing and litigating her motion for
the initial award.
phrase used to describe the recovery of attorney's fees
incurred in preparing a motion for attorney's fees is
“fees for fees.” The Sixth Circuit states that
fees-for-fees awards should be given to compensate a party
awarded fees under a fee-shifting statute. See Gonter v.
Hunt Valve Co., Inc., 510 F.3d 610, 620 (6th Cir. 2007).
Courts deciding motion for attorney's fees should only
award fees “reasonably expended in the prosecution of
the litigation.” Inwalle v. Reliance Med. Prods.,
Inc., 515 F.3d 531, 553 (6th Cir. 2008). A reasonable
fee is determined by multiplying the number of hours
reasonably spent preparing and litigating a motion for
attorney's fees by a reasonable hourly rate. See
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424 (1983). This is
called the “lodestar” method. Delaware Valley
Citizens Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 564
seeks $3, 762.10 in additional fees for time spent
preparing and litigating her original motion for
attorney's fees. (ECF No. 164-1 at PageID 1278.) This
Court has already held that the hourly rate billed by
Douglas' counsel is reasonable. (ECF No. 163 at PageID
1268.) So the Court need not address that issue. But the
number of hours reasonably spent litigating the original
motion for fees is unsettled.
Number of Hours Reasonably Spent on the Motion for
attorneys submitted their billing records incurred litigating
the original attorney's fees motion from November 7, 2018
to January 15, 2019. (ECF No. 164-2.) The bill states that
Robert O. Binkley, Jr., counsel for Douglas, billed 3.6 hours
during this time frame. (Id.) And Jennifer Ivy, also
counsel for Douglas, billed 14.3 hours during this ...