United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ENTRY OF JUDGMENT, COSTS,
ATTORNEY'S FEES AND INTEREST (DOC. 76)
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sheryl Hubbell brought this action against defendant FedEx
Smartpost, Inc., alleging that she was subjected to gender
discrimination and retaliation. On June 9, 2017, the jury
returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff on her retaliation
claims and awarded damages. This matter is presently before
the Court on plaintiff's motion for entry of judgment,
costs, attorney fees, and interest. (Doc. 76).
facts of the case are well known to the parties. A brief
summary will suffice here. Plaintiff worked as a parcel
sorter for defendant. She alleged gender discrimination,
retaliation, and hostile work environment claims under Title
VII and Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act
(ELCRA). The Court granted defendant partial summary judgment
on plaintiff's hostile work environment claim. On June 5,
2017, the parties proceeded to trial on the remaining counts.
After a five day trial, the jury found for plaintiff on her
retaliation claims. (Doc. 73). The jury awarded her $32, 100
for economic damages to the date of the verdict, $53, 500 for
future economic damages, $30, 000 for non-economic damages,
and $403, 950 for punitive damages. (Doc. 73 at PageID
2640-42). Defendant immediately stated its intent to file
post-trial motions. Plaintiff filed the instant motion on
June 22, 2017. The Court resolved to address defendant's
anticipated post-trial motions before entering judgment. On
March 13, 2018, the Court denied defendant's requests for
judgment as a matter of law and a new trial and granted its
request for remittitur and reduced plaintiff's punitive
damages award. (Doc. 90). Judgment was entered March 14,
2018. (Doc. 91).
Court now returns to plaintiff's motion. She seeks
attorney's fees, costs, and interest. Defendant filed a
response on July 11, 2017. (Doc. 78). It focused on
requesting that judgment not be entered. It did not
articulate any challenge to plaintiff's requests for
attorney's fees, costs, or interest.
was entered on March 14, 2018. (Doc. 91). Plaintiff's
request for judgment is, therefore, MOOT.
706(k) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
authorizes the award of attorney's fees to the prevailing
party and entrusts the effectuation of this statutory policy
to the discretion of the district courts. Christiansburg
Garment Co. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n,
434 U.S. 412, 416 (1978). The ELCRA also authorizes
“[a] person alleging a violation of this act” to
receive reasonable attorney's fees. Mich. Comp. Laws
§§ 37.2801(1), (3); see also Hall v. State Farm
Ins. Co., 18 F.Supp.2d 751, 764 (E.D. Mich. 1998).
motion for attorney's fees, plaintiff's counsel
states that “this matter was taken upon a 1/3
contingency fee basis and written agreement and understanding
that attorney fees above that 1/3 contingency fee may be
awarded by law to the attorneys.” (Doc. 76 at
PageID 2669) (emphasis added). Preliminarily, the Court
reminds plaintiff and her counsel that the law entitles
plaintiff, not her attorneys, to attorney's fees.
party” in Title VII's fee shifting provision
“refer[s] to plaintiff's entitlement to those fees,
not the plaintiff's lawyer, . . . independent of his
client, an attorney has no personal right to an award of
statutory attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(k).” Soliman v. Ebasco Servs.
Inc., 822 F.2d 320, 322-23 (2d Cir. 1987). Likewise,
plaintiff, not her counsel, is the “person alleging a
violation of” the ELCRA. Any attorney's fees award
is, therefore, awarded by law to plaintiff Hubbell.
determining an amount of a reasonable attorney's fee,
federal courts generally begin by calculating the
‘lodestar' (the product of multiplying the number
of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by a
reasonable hourly rate), and then reduce or augment that
amount by considering other case-specific factors.”
Hunt v. Hadden, 159 F.Supp.3d 800, 806 (E.D. Mich.
2016) (citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424,
433-37 (1983)). Michigan courts follow a similar approach;
first determining the lodestar and then assessing the factors
outlined in Wood v. DAIIE, 413 Mich. 573 (1982) and
Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(a) to determine if
they warrant an increase or decrease in the base number.
factors considered in Wood are:
(1) the professional standing and experience of the attorney;
(2) the skill, time and labor involved; (3) the amount in
question and the results achieved; (4) the difficulty of the
case; (5) the expenses incurred; and (6) the nature and
length of the professional relationship with the client.
Id. (citing Wood, 413 Mich. at 588).
“The factors in Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(a) are
largely the same. Those factors are not exclusive, and
‘courts should consider any additional relevant
factors.'” Id. (quoting Smith v.
Khouri, 481 Mich. 519, 530 (2008)).
party seeking attorney's fees bears the burden of
establishing a reasonable hourly rate. Yellowbook Inc. v.
Brandeberry, 708 F.3d 837, 848 (6th Cir.2013). A
reasonable hourly rate is generally defined by reference to
the “prevailing market rates in the relevant
community.” See Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886,
895 (1984). “[T]he ‘relevant community' for
fee purposes” is “the legal community within that
court's territorial jurisdiction. . . .”
Adcock-Ladd v. Sec'y of Treasury, 227 F.3d 343,
350 (6th Cir. 2000). As such, the applicable prevailing
market rate is that which lawyers of comparable skill and
experience in the Eastern District of Michigan
“normally charge their paying clients for the type of
work in question.” Smith, 481 Mich. at
531. The appropriate rate, however, “is not
necessarily the exact value sought by a particular firm, but
is rather the market rate in the venue sufficient to
encourage competent representation.” Gonter v. Hunt
Valve Co., 510 F.3d 610, 618 (6th Cir. 2007). “The
attorney should submit his own affidavit documenting his
skill, experience, and reputation . . and that ...