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Harris v. The Bank of Delmarva

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 23, 2015

JUDY HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
THE BANK OF DELMARVA, Defendant

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: SANCTIONS AWARD

MARVIN J. GARBIS, District Judge.

The Court has before it Defendant The Bank of Delmarva's Motion for Sanctions [Document 10] and the parties' filings relating to Defendant's Statement of Fees [Documents 18, 19, 20]. The Court finds no further hearing necessary.

In the Memorandum and Order Re: Sanctions [Document 17] the Court stated:

1. Defendant The Bank of Delmarva's Motion for Sanctions [Document 10] is GRANTED.
2. Defendant shall, by March 24, 2015 file a statement of the legal fees incurred for counsel's preparation for, and participation in, the summary judgment motion hearing.
3. Plaintiff's counsel shall file any response to Defendant's statement of legal fees by April 7, 2015.

Defendant filed an Itemization of Fees [Document 18-2], seeking an award of $6, 953.83 for 15.3 professional hours of defense counsel's time at the rate of $454.50[1] per hour. Plaintiff's counsel objects to the rate and to several of the time charges.

I. DISCUSSION

A. Hourly Rate

The Court finds that the hourly rate charged by Defendant's counsel is reasonable for use in determining the instant award. The hourly rate is what was, in fact, charged to the client and is within the Court's general guideline range for an attorney of defense counsel's experience. Appendix B (Rules and Guidelines for Determinin Attorneys' Fees in Certain Cases) to Local Rules of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland (July 2014).

B. Professional Time Charged

1. 12/05/14 to 12/23/14 (0.5 hours awarded)

The Court will not require reimbursement for the professional time expended in this period, with the exception of half of the one hour devoted to "begin preparation for hearing." The rest of time was devoted to time that defense counsel would have spent even if the hearing had related solely to the sanctions motion. The Court agrees with Plaintiff's counsel that it should not award fees for the sanctions motion itself. The Court agrees with Defendant, however, that the sanctions award was based upon the absence of any nonfrivolous basis to oppose the summary judgment motion. Hence, at least one half of the preparation time was allocable to the summary judgment motion.

2. 01/05/15 to 01/06/15 (5.9 hours awarded)

The Court will award fees for 5.9 of the 6.5 hours devoted to hearing preparation. There was little, if any, additional professional time necessary to prepare for matters that did not directly relate to the summary judgment motion. Therefore, a 10% reduction in the 6.5 hours of hearing preparation time for "sanctions related time" is the greatest reduction that would be reasonable.

3. 01/07/15 (2.3 hours awarded)

The Itemization of Fees refers to a total of 5.6 hours for preparation for oral argument, conferring with clients, and argument in court. The Court records reflect that the hearing in court began at 2:35 PM and concluded at 3:52 PM, for a total of 1.3 hours (1 hour, 17 minutes) of which 1.2 hours (1.3 hours, less 10%) shall be awarded. The Court finds it reasonable to charge for last-day preparation of one-half the hearing time - in this case, 0.7 hours, for which 0.6 hours (0.7 hours, less 10%) shall be awarded. The Court also finds it appropriate to award a fee for post-hearing conferencing time of 0.5 hours, without a 10% reduction, because of the overwhelming significance to the Defendant of the summary judgment motion.

II. CONCLUSION

Accordingly:

1. The Court hereby awards Defendant legal fees payable by Plaintiff's counsel, Bart Garry, Esquire, in the amount of $3, 954.15 for 8.7 hours of professional time at $454.50 per hour.
2. Judgment shall be entered by separate Order.

SO ORDERED.


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