United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
T. NEFF United States District Judge.
a jury trial and judgment in favor of Plaintiffs in this
reverse discrimination case, Plaintiffs have filed a Motion
for Attorneys' Fees, Costs and Paralegal Fees under the
Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and Title VII (Dkt 144);
Motion for Prejudgment Interest on Entire Judgment (Dkt 147);
and Proposed Bill of Costs (Dkt 150). Defendants have filed
Responses in opposition to the motions (Dkts 152, 153). For
the reasons that follow, the Court grants in part and denies
in part both motions, and grants the proposed Bill of Costs.
undersigned has presided over this case since its inception
in June 2014. Plaintiffs' Complaint (Dkt 1) alleged four
counts: Count I, Violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964; Count II, Violation of the Elliott-Larsen Civil
Rights Act (ELCRA); Count III, Violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1983 under the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection
Clause; and Count IV, Violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1983's Rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Following
discovery, the Court granted Defendants' motion for
summary judgment of Count IV (42 U.S.C. § 1981 claim),
but denied the motion as to Counts I (Title VII), II
(Michigan's ELCRA) and III (§ 1983).
case was tried before a jury over five days. On June 20,
2016, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs on
two of the three counts presented to them: ELCRA and Title
VII, but found no violation of § 1983 (Count III). This
Court entered judgment for Plaintiffs in accordance with the
jury's award to each Plaintiff: (1) Robert O'Brien,
$67, 000.00 in lost back wages and $100, 000.00 for emotional
pain and mental anguish; (2) Daniel Unruh, $32, 000.00 in
lost back wages and $10, 000.00 for emotional pain and mental
now move for attorneys' fees, costs and interest pursuant
to the fee-shifting provisions of the ELCRA and Title VII,
and pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d).
VII provides that "the court, in its discretion, may
allow the prevailing party reasonable attorney's fee
(including expert fees) as part of the costs ...." 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). Likewise, in an action brought
under the ELCRA, a court "may award all or a portion of
the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney fees
and witness fees, to the complainant in the action if the
court determines that the award is appropriate." Mich.
Comp. Laws § 37.2802.
move for attorneys' fees, costs and interest (Dkt 144) as
follows: Attorneys' Fees, $200, 893.00; Costs (other than
taxable), $12, 676.50; and Paralegal Costs, $3, 815.50.
Plaintiffs additionally filed a Bill of Costs (Dkt 150),
seeking taxable costs of $2, 403.95. Plaintiffs move for an
award of prejudgment interest in the amount of $22, 528.12
do not dispute Plaintiffs' general entitlement to
reimbursement as prevailing parties, but argue that their
request for fees and costs should be significantly reduced.
Defendants assert that Plaintiffs declined to settle this
case despite settlement offers in excess of the jury award,
which resulted in the unnecessary expenditure of resources by
Defendants and the Court. Defendants argue that the Court, in
the exercise of its discretion and given its familiarity with
the complexity of the case, should make a lodestar reduction
of 50 percent to Plaintiffs' appropriate costs and fees
from May 19, 2014 forward, which is the date Plaintiffs'
counsel began researching legal issues involving the
complaint in this case. Defendants oppose an award of
Court considers each component of Plaintiffs' requests in
methodology for determining a reasonable attorney fee award
begins with the "lodestar" calculation: the proven
number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation
multiplied by the court-ascertained reasonable hourly rate.
Jordan v. City of Cleveland, 464 F.3d 584, 602 (6th
Cir. 2006); Adcock-Ladd v. Sec'y of Treasury,
227 F.3d 343, 349 (6th Circ. 2000) (citing Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)). The court may then
adjust the "lodestar" to reflect "relevant
considerations peculiar to the subject litigation."
Adcock-Ladd, 227F.3dat349. "The factors which
the district court may consider, either in determining the
basic lodestar fee and/or adjustments thereto, include the
twelve listed in Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express,
Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717- 19 (5th Cir. 1974)."
Adcock-Ladd, 227 F.3d at 349. These factors, known
as the "Johnson factors" are:
"(1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and
difficulty of the question; (3) the skill requisite to
perform the legal service properly; (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
attorney; (10) the 'undesirability' of the case; (11)
the nature and length of the professional relationship with
the client; and (12) awards in similar cases."
Geier v. Sundquist, 372 F.3d 784, 792 (6th Cir.
2004) (quoting Johnson, 488 F.2d at 717-19).
'"The primary concern in an attorney fee case is
that the fee awarded be reasonable, that is, one that is
adequately compensatory to attract competent counsel yet
which avoids producing a windfall for lawyers.'"
Geier, 372 F.3d at 791 (quoting Reed v.
Rhodes, 179 F.3d 453, 471 (6th Cir. 1999) (citation
counsel seeks attorney fees in the amount of $200, 893.00,
representing 601.7 hours at rates of $260, $290 and $350 per
hour because of hourly rate increases overtime (Dkt 145-2 at
$260.00 x 41.4 - $10, 764 beginning May 9, 2013
$290.00 x 99.6 - rate change as of May 20, 2014 - $28, 884
$350.00 x 460.7 - rate change as of May 19, 2015 - ...