United States District Court, D. Maryland
Everhart ("Everhart") sued the Board of Education
of Prince George's County C'BOE") for employment
discrimination alleging, among other claims: (I) 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 with respect
to his retaliation claim in both trials, a jury in the second
awarding him $350, 000.00 in compensatory damages. Jury
Verdict, ECF No. 158. BOE noted an appeal, Notice of Appeal.
ECF No. 181, but this Court's Judgment was recently
affirmed by the Fourth Circuit. Judgment of USCA, ECF No.
248. Following the jury trial, Everhart, through his
attorney, Bryan Chapman, Esquire. petitioned the Court for an
interim award of attorney's fees, and on August 14, 205,,
the Court awarded him $600, 000.00 in attorneys
s fees for work performed on the case from
its inception through the date of the Order. August 14.2015.
Interim Order Att'y Fees, ECF No. 212.
the Interim Order of Attorney's Fees, the parties
continued to litigate 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, I70.00
in back pay, ordered his pension and health benefits to 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 in preparation
for and during the bench trial. On June 17, 2016 the Court
awarded him an additional $53, 850.00 in attorney's fees.
Order of Additional Att'y Fees, ECF No. 243.
I, 20I6, BOE moved to reopen the case relative to the
Court's Interim Order of Attorney's Fees awarding
Chapman $600, 000 in attorney's fees. Mot. To Reopen and
Relief from Interim Order, ECF No. 244. In a Memorandum Order
and Opinion, the Court found that Chapman sought compensation
for time as to which he had in fact received credit for in
another case, Fordyce v. Prince George's County,
DKC 13-0741. ECF Nos. 249, 250. The Court accordingly
reopened the case and reduced its Interim Order of
Attorney's Fees, ECF NO.2I2, by $12, 900.00. Id.
After the reduction, the Interim Order of Attorney's Fees
stands at $587.100.00, and the Order of Additional
Attorney's Fees, ECF No. 239, stands at $53, 850.00.
Memorandum Order and Opinion, the Court noted that since the
Fourth Circuit had affirmed its judgment on appeal, Everhart
should file a Motion for Attorney's Fees for the
appellate work performed. The Court specifically stated,
"[Attorney] Chapman is cautioned to be particularly
scrupulous in describing the work he performed and the amount
of time he claims for such work."
October 25, 2016, Everhart moved for attorney's fees and
costs incurred from April 13, 2016 to October 25, 2016 in
connection with work performed on the BOE appeal and for
preparation of the instant Motion for Attorney's Fees.
Pl. s Mot. Att'y Fees, ECF No. 252. In his Motion,
Everhart seeks additional fees of $63, 875.00 ($59, 325.00
for the appellate work,  $4, 050.00 for preparing the instant
motion' and $500.00 for professional printing
costs). Id. BOE responded on November 14, 2016
requesting that Everhart's Motion either should be denied
in its entirety, or in the alternative, significantly
reduced. See Def.s Opp'n to Mot. Atfy Fees
(''Def.ss Opp'n"),, ECF No. 253. For the
reasons that follow, Everhart's Motion for Attorney's
Fees, ECF No. 252, is GRANTED-IN-PAR.. The Court will award
attorney Chapman an additional $46, 650.00 in attorney's
fees and costs.
U.S.C. S 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. This pertains to fees a plaintiff
incurs in the event he is successful on appeal. See Hut
to v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 699, 98 S.Ct. 2565, 57
L.Ed.2d 522 (1978). See also Wolfe v. Routzahn. 953
F.Supp.2d 627, 635 (D. Md. 2013) ("[D]istrict courts may
factor into the fee award the time and energy a prevailing
party expends in prosecuting a successful appeal or defending
against a merit less one."). 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 A, 489 U.S, 87 (1989). and adopted by the Fourth
Circuit in Barber v. Kimbrell's. Inc., 5ll F.2d
216, 226 (4th Cir. 1978). They include the (I) 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 circumstance;; (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
with respect to BOE's appeal to the Fourth Circuit.
Rather, they dispute how much, if anything. Chapman should be
awarded for the time he claims to have expended while working
on the appeal. For the appellate work alone, Chapman has
submitted an affidavit and billing statement in which he
claims to have spent a total of 197.75 hours at a rate
of$300000 per hour, resulting in a request of$59, 325.00 in
attorney's fees. See Pl.'s Mot. Atfy Fees,
Chapman Aff., ECF No. 252-2. and Exhibit Billing Statement,
ECF No. 252-4. BOE. once again, surpassingly, argues that the
Court should deny any recovery at ¶ 1. See
Def.ss Opp .. In the alternative, BOE asserts
that the Court should reduce Chapman's award to $25,
reasons detailed in the Court's June 17, 2016 Memorandum
Opinion, ECF No. 242, granting-in-part Everhart's Motion
for Attorney's Fees, the Court concludes that
Chapman's requested billing rate of ...