United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION FOR AWARD OF
CORBETT O'MEARA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees,
costs, and postjudgment interest, filed August 11, 2017.
Defendants filed a brief in response on September 8, 2017;
Plaintiff submitted a reply on September 18, 2017. Pursuant
to L.R. 7.1(f)(2), the court did not hear oral argument.
representing himself, Plaintiff Randle Griffin brought this
action against the defendant corrections officers in 2011.
Plaintiff alleged Defendants violated his First Amendment
rights while he was incarcerated at Gus Harrison Correctional
Facility in Adrian, Michigan. The case was initially
dismissed, but the dismissal was reversed by the Sixth
Circuit. Plaintiff's attorneys filed an appearance in
2014, after the case was remanded.
the parties engaged in significant discovery and motion
practice. Ultimately, Defendants' motion for summary
judgment was denied and the matter proceeded to trial. After
several days of trial, the jury returned a verdict in
Plaintiff's favor on January 24, 2017. The jury awarded
Plaintiff a total of $12, 500, including punitive damages.
filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law, which was
denied on July 14, 2017. The court entered judgment for
Plaintiff in the amount of $12, 565.73, including prejudgment
interest. Plaintiff now seeks attorney's fees, costs, and
postjudgment interest pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1988(b) permits a prevailing party in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983
case to seek reasonable attorney's fees and costs. The
court should award attorney's fees and costs to “a
prevailing plaintiff . . . unless special circumstances would
render such award unjust.” Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983) (citations omitted).
An attorney's fee award to a prevailing party who is a
prisoner is limited by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(d) provides four steps for determining
an attorney's fees award: (1) determining whether
Plaintiff prevailed for the purposes of § 1988; (2)
calculating the amount of attorney's fees due under the
lodestar method; (3) determining whether the amount of the
fee is proportionate to the court ordered relief for the
violation, or if the fee was directly and reasonably incurred
in enforcing the relief ordered for the violation; and (4) if
a monetary judgment is awarded, the Court will apply some
portion of the judgment, not to exceed 25%, to satisfy the
fee award and limit the total award of attorney's fees to
150% of the judgment.
Siggers-El v. Barlow, 433 F.Supp.2d 811, 820 (E.D.
Mich. 2006) (citing Morrison v. Davis, 88 F.Supp.2d
799, 809 (S.D. Ohio 2000)). See also Walker v. Bain,
257 F.3d 660, 667 (6th Cir. 2001) (“We
believe that § 1997e(d)(2) must be read to limit
defendants' liability for attorney fees to 150 percent of
the money judgment.”).
parties do not dispute that Plaintiff is the prevailing party
here. Recognizing §1997e(d)(2)'s limitation on
attorney's fees, Plaintiff seeks fees in the amount of
150% of the judgment, or $18, 848.60. Plaintiff's
attorneys expended hundreds of hours conducting discovery,
motion practice, and trial. In the court's experience,
the calculation of a reasonable lodestar amount in the usual
manner would result in a figure significantly higher than
that sought by Plaintiff. Given the amount of work involved,
the level of experience of counsel, and the results achieved,
the court finds that $18, 848.60 is well within the limits of
a reasonable attorney fee.
argue that the court should exercise its discretion in favor
of applying 25% of the judgment to satisfy the attorney's
fees awarded against them. See 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(d)(2). Given the constitutional rights at stake and the
jury's indication that Defendants' actions warranted
punitive damages, the court finds no basis to significantly
reduce the jury's award to Plaintiff in order to satisfy
the award of attorney's fees. The court will assess $1 of
the judgment amount toward the award of attorney's fees.
See Morrison v. Davis, 88 F.Supp.2d 799, 811 (S.D.
Ohio 2000) (“In light of the facts of this case, the
constitutional rights implicated, and the jury's clear
signal that the Defendants should be punished, the Court
finds that a $1 assessment against the judgment is within its
discretion under § 1997e(d)(2).”).
also seeks an award of costs. Plaintiff has not, however,
submitted appropriate documentation supporting his request
for costs. Plaintiff may submit a properly supported bill of
costs to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to Local Rule 54.1,