United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED SATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Everhart ("Everhart") sued the Board of Education
of Prince George's County ("BOE") for
employment discrimination alleging, among other claims: (1)
hostile work environment based on race, and (2) retaliation.
After two lengthy trials, one addressing whether Title VI of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, applied to
Everhart's claims, and the second addressing whether BOE
was liable under Title VI for creating a hostile work
environment and for retaliation, Everhart ultimately
prevailed on his retaliation claim in both trials, a jury in
the second awarding him $350, 000.00 in compensatory damages.
Jury Verdict, ECF No. 158. After these trials, Everhart,
through his attorney, Bryan Chapman, Esquire, petitioned the
Court for an interim award of attorney's fees. On August
14, 2015, the Court awarded Chapman $600, 000.00 in
attorney's fees for work performed on the case from its
inception through the date of the Order. Interim Order
Att'y Fees, ECF No. 212.
the Court's Interim Order of Attorney's Fees, the
parties have continued to litigate, in this phase over the
question of whether Everhart should be awarded back pay,
health and pension benefits, and other equitable relief as a
result of his unlawful termination by BOE. The Court held a
two-and-a-half day bench trial relative to these issues and
ultimately awarded Everhart $198, 170.00 in back pay, ordered
that his pension and health benefits be reinstated, and
directed BOE to expunge certain negative information from its
records pertaining to Everhart. Final Order J., ECF No. 234.
Everhart thereafter moved for attorney's fees in
connection with work performed in preparation for and during
the bench trial, seeking $80, 775.00 at a rate of $300.00 per
hour. PL's Mot. Att'y Fees, ECF No. 239. For the
reasons that follow, Everhart's Motion for an Award of
Attorney's Fees and Costs (ECF No. 239) is
GRANTED IN PART, and the Court will award
attorney Chapman an additional $53, 850.00 in attorney's
U.S.C. § 1988 permits a court, in its discretion, to
grant an award of reasonable attorney's fees to the
prevailing party in a Title VI action. In exercising its
discretion, a court must calculate the "lodestar"
figure, which is the number of hours reasonably expended on
the litigation, multiplied by an hourly rate that is also
reasonable. Pennsylvania v. Delaware Valley Citizens'
Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 565 (1986) (holding
that the lodestar amount is "the product of reasonable
hours times a reasonable rate").
deciding what constitutes a "reasonable" number of
hours expended and "reasonable" hourly rate, the
court is guided by the factors set forth in Johnson v.
Ga. Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th
Cir. 1974), abrogated on other grounds by Blanchard v.
Bergeron, et al., 489 U.S. 87 (1989), and adopted by the
Fourth Circuit in Barber v. Kimbrell's, Inc.,
577 F.2d 216, 226 (4th Cir. 1978). Those include: (1) time
and labor required; (2) novelty and difficulty of the
questions; (3) skill requisite to perform the legal service
properly; (4) preclusion of other employment by the attorney
due to acceptance of the case; (5) customary fee; (6) whether
fee is fixed or contingent; (7) time limitations imposed by
the client or the circumstances; (8) amount involved and the
results obtained; (9) experience, reputation, and ability of
the attorney; (10) the "undesirability" of the
case; (11) nature and length of professional relationship
with the client; and (12) awards in similar cases. The
"court enjoys wide discretion" in making its
lodestar determination. See Thompson v. U.S. Dep't of
Hous. & Urban Dev., No. CIV.A. MGJ-95-309, 2002 WL
31777631, at * 13 (D. Md. Nov. 21, 2002) (citing Daly v.
Hill, 790 F.2d 1071, 1078 (4th Cir. 1986)).
parties do not dispute that Everhart was the prevailing party
at the conclusion of the bench trial with respect to Everharf
s entitlement to back pay and other equitable relief. Rather,
the parties dispute how much, if anything, Chapman should be
awarded for the hours he claims to have expended preparing
for and trying these final issues. Chapman has submitted an
affidavit and time records in which he claims to have spent a
total of 269.25 hours at a rate of $300.00 per hour,
resulting in a total request of $80, 775.00 in attorney's
fees. See PL's Mot. Att'y Fees, Chapman
Affi, ECF No. 239-2, and Exhibit Supplement (hereinafter
"Chapman Billing Sheet"), ECF No. 239-4. BOE, once
again, surprisingly, argues that the Court should deny any
recovery at all. See Defi's Opp'n to Mot.
Att'y Fees ("Def.'s Opp'n") 1-2, ECF
No. 240. In the alternative, BOE asserts that the Court
should reduce Chapman's award to $20, 194.50.
Court first addresses whether Chapman's billing rate of
$300.00 per hour is reasonable. BOE argues that this rate
should be reduced by half to $150.00 per hour, or, at the
most, to $225.00 per hour. Def.'s Opp'n 4-6. The
Court disagrees with BOE.
hourly rate is reasonable if it is "in line with those
prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers
of reasonably comparable skill, experience, and
reputation." Duprey v. Scotts Co. LLC, 30
F.Supp. 3d 404, 412 (D. Md. 2014) (citing Blum v.
Sienson, 465 U.S. 886, 890 n.l 1 (1984)). "[T]he
burden rests with the fee applicant to establish the
reasonableness of a requested rate." Robinson v.
Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 560 F.3d 235, 244 (4th Cir.
2009) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
Appendix B to its Local Rules, this Court has established
rates that are presumptively reasonable for lodestar
calculations. Duprey,30 F.Supp. 3d at 412 (citing
Poole ex rel. Elliott v. Textron, Inc., 192 F.R.D.
494, 509 (D. Md. ...