United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
ADONIA K. SMITH, Plaintiff,
LOUDOUN COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Defendant.
C. CACHERIS JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Attorney Fees and Costs [Dkt. 129]. For the reasons that
follow, the Court will grant the Motion in part and award
Plaintiff $44, 986.88 in fees with $3, 131.82 in costs to
Coffield PLC, and $46, 333.08 in fees with $7, 346.00 in
costs to Swick & Shapiro, PC.
detailed description of the facts of this case may be found
in the Court's earlier Memorandum Opinion [Dkt. 59] on
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. As such, the
Court repeats here only what is relevant to its ruling on the
Adonia K. Smith is a deaf individual who, from August of 2007
to June of 2010, served as a special education teacher
employed by Defendant Loudoun County School Board. During her
tenure, Plaintiff became embroiled in disputes with the
school's administration regarding the accommodations
provided for her disability. On July 28, 2015, Plaintiff
filed suit against Defendant under the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et
seq., contending that (1) Defendant failed to reasonably
accommodate her disability during her employment; (2)
Defendant discharged her in retaliation for requesting
accommodations; and (3) Defendant discharged her for
the close of discovery, Defendant moved for summary judgment.
In a Memorandum Opinion [Dkt. 59], the Court granted
Defendant's Motion as to Plaintiff's retaliatory and
wrongful discharge claims, but denied it as to
Plaintiff's failure to accommodate claim. The latter
claim was tried over the course of five days, resulting in a
hung jury. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff discharged her
attorneys from the firm of Swick & Shapiro. Plaintiff
then secured alternative counsel, Timothy Coffield, who tried
Plaintiff's failure to accommodate claim to a second
jury. This time, the jury returned a verdict in
Plaintiff's favor, awarding $310.00 - an amount
representing the sum total of Plaintiff's medical bills.
Plaintiff has since appealed the Court's ruling with
respect to her retaliatory and wrongful discharge claims.
now moves for an award of attorney's fees and costs in
the following amounts: $44, 986.88 in fees and $3, 143.06 in
costs for Coffield PLC; $208, 498.88 in fees and $7, 346.00
in costs for Swick & Shapiro PC; and $8, 400.00 in fees
for an attorney who assisted Plaintiff at the administrative
stage of these proceedings before the EEOC.
the ADA, “the court . . . in its discretion, may allow
the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee,
including litigation expenses, and costs.” 42 U.S.C.
Fourth Circuit has set out a three-step process for
determining a reasonable attorney's fee. First, the Court
should “‘determine the lodestar figure by
multiplying the number of reasonable hours expended times a
reasonable rate.'” McAfee v.
Boczar, 738 F.3d 81, 88 (4th Cir.2013) (quoting
Robinson v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 560 F.3d 235,
243 (4th Cir.2009)). In determining what is reasonable, the
Court should apply the twelve factors enumerated in
Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express Inc.,
488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir.1974). McAfee, 738
F.3d at 88. Those factors are:
(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 rendered; (4) the
attorney's opportunity costs in pressing the instant
litigation; (5) the customary fee for like work; (6) the
attorney's expectations at the outset of the litigation;
(7) the time limitations imposed by the client or
circumstances; (8) the amount in controversy and the results
obtained; (9) the experience, reputation and ability of the
attorney; (10) the undesirability of the case within the
legal community in which the suit arose; (11) the nature and
length of the professional relationship between attorney and
client; and (12) attorneys' fees awards in similar cases.
Barber v. Kimbrell's, Inc., 577 F.2d 216, 226
n.28 (4th Cir. 1978). Generally, “[t]he Court need not
address all twelve . . . factors independently” as they
are “subsumed” into the initial evaluation of
what constitutes a reasonable rate and number of hours
expended. Wells Fargo Bank, Nat. Ass'n v. Walls,
No. 1:12-CV-664 LMB/IDD, 2013 WL 869902, at *2 (E.D. Va. Mar.
4, 2013), aff'd sub nom. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v.
Walls, 543 F. App'x 350 (4th Cir. 2013).
making this initial determination, the Court must subtract
fees for time spent on unsuccessful claims. McAfee,
738 F.3d at 88. Finally, the Court should award a percentage
of the remaining amount depending on the extent of the
Plaintiff's success. Id.
first contends that Plaintiff's Motion should be denied
without “detailed analysis, ” as the amount
sought “shocks the conscience.” Opp. [Dkt. 132]
at 4. The Court declines to reject Plaintiff's claimed
fees out of hand. Given the substantial briefing and two jury
trials required to bring these ...