United States District Court, D. Maryland
CATHERINE C. BLAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the court is a motion for attorney's fees
and expenses and request for hearing filed by the plaintiff,
the estate of Alfred Allen, Jr. ("the estate").
Oral argument is not necessary to resolve the motion.
See Local R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons
stated below, the court will grant the motion in part,
awarding the estate attorney's fees in the amount of
$158, 181.40 and costs in the amount of $13, 865, totaling
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case has an extensive factual and procedural history, and the
court presumes familiarity with its prior opinions.
See ECF 217; Allen v. Bait. County, Md., 91
F.Supp.3d 722 (D. Md. 2015). On January 11, 2011, Mr. Allen,
then a corrections officer with Baltimore County's
Department of Corrections, attended a medical examination as
instructed by his employer. On February 16, 2011, the county
notified Mr. Allen that he was being terminated as a
correctional officer based upon the results of the medical
examination. The county offered Mr. Allen the choice between
a demotion to a civilian administrative position or
discharge. Mr. Allen accepted the civilian position.
October 15, 2013, the estate filed its complaint against the
county, alleging that the county had illegally required Mr.
Allen to undergo a medical examination and illegally
discharged/demoted Mr. Allen from his correctional officer
position, both in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Based upon the alleged
violations, the estate requested back pay and other economic
and compensatory damages, totaling $4.6 million in damages
and fees. The county filed its answer on November 15, 2013,
contesting both of the estate's claims. On June 18, 2014,
during the pendency of the litigation, the county reinstated
Mr. Allen as a correctional officer, On March 18, 2015, the
court granted in part and denied in part the county's
motion for summary judgment, denying the estate's illegal
examination claim and permitting its illegal
discharge/demotion claim to proceed.
on August 3, 2015, the court held a jury trial on Mr.
Allen's claims. On the sixth day, the court declared a
mistrial after the jury could not agree on a verdict.
December 2, 2016, the estate, with the county's consent,
filed its amended complaint. The amended complaint removed
all requests for economic and compensatory damages except for
the estate's request for back pay for the period of Mr.
Allen's discharge from the county. The parties agreed to
have the court adjudicate the outstanding issue, and
submitted their respective proposed findings of fact and
conclusions of law on April 10, 2017.
December 10, 2017, the court issued its memorandum and order,
finding in favor of the estate and awarding it the stipulated
amount of $32, 871.59 in back pay. On February 2, 2018, the
estate filed its motion for attorney's fees and expenses,
requesting $387, 647.50 in attorney's fees and $13,
865.00 in expenses, totaling $401, 512.50. Further, on April
16, 2018, the estate filed its reply to the county's
opposition to the motion, to which it attached an affidavit
from Ms. Cahill which stated that she had expended an
additional 40.7 hours on this case, increasing the request
for fees by an additional $20, 350.00. ECF 230-5 at p. 2. The
motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for consideration.
to the ADA, successful plaintiffs are entitled to
attorney's fees and expenses. 42 U.S.C. §
12205. Such awards are within the court's
discretion and must be reasonable. Id. A reasonable
fee is "a fee that is sufficient to induce a capable
attorney to undertake the representation of a meritorious
civil rights case." Perdue v. Kenny A., 559
U.S. 542, 552 (2010) (internal citations omitted). In order
"to qualify as a prevailing party, a civil rights
plaintiff must obtain at least some relief on the merits of
his claim." Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 103, 111
the court's responsibility to determine what amount of
attorney's fees is reasonable, in consideration of the
specific facts of each case. See Hemley, 461 U.S. at
433. Leaving the question of attorney's fees to the
district court's discretion is "appropriate in view
of the district court's superior understanding of the
litigation." Id. at 437. While the district
court may award attorney's1 fees at its discretion, some
guidelines for how to calculate such awards exist.
starting point, district courts should determine both the
reasonable hourly rate for the attorney involved and the
reasonable hours expended, commonly referred to as the
lodestar figure. Id. at 433; see also McAfee v.
Boczar, 738 F.3d 81, 88 (4th Cir. 2014) (holding that
district courts must first calculate the lodestar figure when
awarding attorney's fees). Courts should consider the
following twelve factors in evaluating the reasonableness of
the lodestar figure:
(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