United States District Court, D. Maryland
For William Blake, Plaintiff: Kathleen M Cahill, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Kathleen M Cahill, Towson, MD; Michael F Smith, The Smith Appellate Law Firm, Washington, DC.
For Baltimore County Maryland, Terrance B. Sheridan, Chief of Police, The Baltimore County Police Department, Defendants: John Edward Beverungen, Baltimore County Office of Law, Towson, MD; Paul McLane Mayhew, Baltimore County Law Department, Towson, MD.
Benson Everett Legg, United States District Judge.
Now pending is Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fees. Docket Nos. 210 and 233. This Court has thoroughly reviewed the record and has held two hearings. For the reasons stated below, this Court will award attorneys' fees of $494,423 plus costs of $17,716.
Because the facts are laid out in this Court's Memorandum Opinion of July 1, 2008, Docket No. 59, a brief summary will suffice. This case tested whether the Baltimore County (the " County" ) Police Department could, in 2006, lawfully order Detective William Blake (" Blake" ) to undergo a fitness-for-duty physical examination, including an electroencephalogram (EEG). Blake, who had experienced a seizure episode in 1996, but who had performed his duties without incident since then, objected and contended that the order violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA" ).
Litigation began when Blake, in December 2006, filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ). After exhausting his administrative remedies, which included involvement by the EEOC and the Department of Justice (" DOJ" ), Blake filed suit on January 8, 2007. Save for the fee petition, litigation ended on July 15, 2011, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a jury verdict in Blake's favor and the jury's award of $225,000 in compensatory damages.
Under the ADA, successful plaintiffs are entitled to an award of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. See 42 U.S.C. § 12205. " Where a plaintiff has obtained excellent results, his attorney should recover a fully compensatory fee." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 435, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 76 L.Ed.2d 40 (1983).
Kathleen Cahill (" Cahill" ), who represented Blake from the outset of the case, seeks an award of $450,075, representing 1059 hours of work at $425 per hour. Michael F. Smith (" Smith" ), an appellate specialist whom Cahill brought in to handle the appeal, seeks an award of $144,000 representing 384 hours of work at $375 per
hour. Combined, the fee petition seeks $594,075 in attorneys' fees and $17,716 in costs. Baltimore County, while conceding that Blake's counsel are entitled to substantial attorneys' fees, contends that $276,245 is the upper limit. The County does not contest Blake's request for costs of $17,716, however.
II. Legal Standard
When reviewing a fee petition, a court uses the " lodestar method." The court multiplies the number of hours reasonably expended by the attorneys times their reasonable hourly rates. See Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433. The court then decides whether the lodestar fee should be enhanced or reduced in light of the litigation result obtained.
This Court must, therefore, determine a reasonable hourly rate for both Cahill and Smith. For each, the Court must also decide whether the hours billed by each attorney are reasonable. In making these determinations, the Court must take into consideration the twelve Johnson factors:
(1) the time and labor expended;
(2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions raised;
(3) the skill required to properly perform the legal services rendered;
(4) the attorney's opportunity costs in pressing the instant litigation;
(5) the attorney's customary fee for like work;
(6) the attorney's expectations at the outset of the litigation;
(7) the time limitations imposed by the client or by ...