United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
TRUSTEES OF THE IRON WORKERS LOCAL UNION NO. 5 AND IRON WORKERS EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION, EMPLOYEE PENSION TRUST, et al., Plaintiffs,
MOXY MISC. METALS, LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. Grimm United States District Judge
who filed suit against Defendant Moxy Misc. Metals, LLC
(Moxy”) for ERISA violations, entered into a settlement
agreement (“Release”) with Moxy on December 19,
2018, requiring in pertinent part that Defendant pay to
Plaintiffs a sum of $100, 000. Richardson Decl. ¶ 2, ECF
No. 31-2; Release 1, Richardson Decl. Ex. A, ECF No. 31-2, at
5. To date, no such payment has been made, nor has Defendant
provided information as to when payment can be expected.
Richardson Decl. ¶ 6. Plaintiffs now seek enforcement of
the Release. ECF No. 31. Defendant has not filed a response
to Plaintiffs’ Motion, and the time for doing so has
passed. See Loc. R. 105.2(a). A hearing is not
necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. Because the parties
reached an agreement and its terms are readily discernible,
Plaintiffs’ Motion is granted.
enforce a settlement agreement under its inherent equity
power, [a] district court ‘(1) must find that the
parties reached a complete agreement and (2) must be able to
determine its terms and conditions.’” Swift
v. Frontier Airlines, Inc., 636 Fed.Appx. 153,
154–55 (4th Cir. 2016) (per curiam) (quoting
Hensley v. Alcon Labs., Inc., 277 F.3d 535,
540–41 (4th Cir. 2002)). Under Maryland law,
“[s]ettlement agreements are enforceable as independent
contracts, subject to the same general rules of construction
that apply to other contracts.” Maslow v.
Vanguri, 896 A.2d 408, 419 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2006). To
rule on a motion to enforce a settlement agreement, a court
need not hold an evidentiary hearing, unless
“substantial factual dispute over either the
agreement’s existence or its terms” exists.
Swift, 636 Fed.Appx. at 156; see also Loc.
Release provides undisputed evidence of offer, agreement, and
mutual consideration, I find that an enforceable contract
exists. See CTI/DC, Inc. v. Selective Ins. Co. of
Am., 392 F.3d 114, 123 (4th Cir. 2004) (elements of
contract) (citing Peer v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan
Ass’n of Cumberland, 331 A.2d 299, 301 (Md.
1975)). The Release’s essential terms are clear,
requiring Plaintiffs to release their claims against
Defendant and to take necessary action to dismiss the case in
exchange for a $100, 000 payment. Release. No. hearing is
necessary, because Defendant does not dispute the existence
or terms of the Release. Swift, 636 Fed.Appx. at
156. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion is granted.
assert, and Defendant has not disputed, that Defendant owes
Plaintiffs $100, 000.00 under the Release. Therefore, I will
enter judgment against Defendant in this amount.
Plaintiffs seek $1, 328.25 in attorney’s fees incurred
in filing this motion, amounting to 5.25 hours of services
provided by attorney Rebecca Richardson. Fees Chart,
Richardson Decl. Ex. B, ECF No. 31-2, at 9. In calculating an
award for attorney’s fees, the Court must determine the
lodestar amount, defined as a “reasonable hourly rate
multiplied by hours reasonably expended.” Grissom
v. The Mills Corp., 549 F.3d 313, 320–21 (4th Cir.
2008); see Plyler v. Evatt, 902 F.2d 273,
277 (4th Cir. 1990) (stating that “[i]n addition to the
attorney’s own affidavits, the fee applicant must
produce satisfactory specific evidence of the prevailing
market rates in the relevant community for the type of work
for which he seeks an award”) (internal citations
omitted). “[T]here is a ‘strong
presumption’ that the lodestar figure is reasonable,
but that presumption may be overcome in those rare
circumstances in which the lodestar does not adequately take
into account a factor that may properly be considered in
determining a reasonable fee.” Perdue v. Kenny A.
ex rel. Winn, 559 U.S. 542, 554 (2010). In determining
whether the lodestar results in a reasonable fee, this Court
evaluates “the twelve well-known factors articulated in
Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d
714, 717–19 (5th Cir. 1974) and adopted by the Fourth
Circuit in Barber v. Kimbrell’s, Inc., 577
F.2d 216, 226 (4th Cir. 1978).” Thompson
v. HUD, No. MJG-95-309, 2002 WL 31777631, at *6 (D.
Md. Nov. 21, 2002) (footnotes omitted). Those factors are:
(1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and
difficulty of the questions; (3) the skill requisite to
properly perform the legal service; (4) the preclusion of
other employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the
case; (5) the customary fee; (6) whether the fee is fixed or
contingent; (7) time limitations imposed by the client or the
circumstances; (8) the amount involved and the results
obtained; (9) the experience, reputation, and ability of the
attorneys; (10) the “undesirability” of the case;
(11) the nature and length of the professional relationship
with the client; and (12) awards in similar cases.
Id. at *6 n.19 (citing Johnson, 488 F.2d at
717–19). However, the Supreme Court has noted (and
experience awarding attorneys’ fees has confirmed) that
the subjective Johnson factors provide very little
guidance and, in any event, that “the lodestar figure
includes most, if not all, of the relevant factors
constituting a ‘reasonable’ attorney’s
fee.” Perdue, 559 U.S. at 551, 553 (quoting
Pennsylvania v. Del. Valley Citizens’ Council for
Clean Air, 478 U.S. 549, 566 (1986)).
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.” Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886,
890 n.11 (1984); see Thompson, 2002 WL 31777631, at
*6 n.18 (same). In Appendix B to its Local Rules (D. Md. Dec.
1, 2018), available at
http://www.mdd.uscourts.gov/local-rules, this Court
has established rates that are presumptively reasonable for
lodestar calculations. See, e.g., Poole ex rel.
Elliott v. Textron, Inc., 192 F.R.D. 494, 509 (D. Md.
2000). Here, Plaintiffs seek a total of $1, 328.25 in
attorney’s fees for 5.25 hours, which computes to an
hourly rate of $253.00 per hour. Fees Chart. Appendix B to
this Court's Local Rules, Rules and Guidelines for
Determining Attorneys’ Fees in Certain Cases, provides
that $165–300 is a reasonable hourly fee for
“[l]awyers admitted to the bar for five (5) to eight
(8) years.” Loc. R. App'x B, at 3.b.
Plaintiffs’ counsel Rebecca Richardson has
“practiced exclusively in the field of labor and
employee benefits since… 2012.” Richardson Decl.
¶ 1. For an attorney of her experience, the hourly rate
falls within the range of rates provided in Appendix B of
this Court’s Local Rules. See Loc. R.
App’x B, at 3.b. Further, the nature of counsel’s
relationship with the clients and the hourly rate negotiated
between them, Richardson Decl. ¶ 8, support a finding
that the hourly rate is reasonable. Thus, I find that this
rate is reasonable.
the hours expended, the Fees Chart lists the billable hours
that Ms. Richardson spent on filing this motion. Ms.
Richardson worked for a total of 5.25 hours. Fees Chart.
Plaintiffs did not address the Johnson factors;
however, counsel’s experience, the amount involved and
results obtained, and the length and nature of
counsel’s professional relationship with the clients
support a finding that the number of hours expended were
reasonable. Taking into account counsel’s continued
effort to obtain the settlement owed, I find that the amount
of time spent on drafting and research pursuant to this
Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement is reasonable.
for the reasons stated in this Memorandum Opinion and Order,
it is this 19th day of ...