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Zuraf v. Clearview Eye Care, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

August 10, 2017

JAMES ZURAF Plaintiff,
v.
CLEARVIEW EYE CARE, INC., D/B/A COASTAL VISION, Defendant.

          AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Raymond A. Jackson, United Mates District Judge.

         Before the Court is Clear View Eye Care Inc.'s ("Defendant") Motion for Attorney Fees pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d). Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 54. This matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. A hearing will not aid judicial determination. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's Motion for Attorney Fees is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This action arises from Defendant's alleged wrongful termination of, and failure to hire, James Zuraf ("Plaintiff) due to his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. Compl. ¶ 11, ECF No. 1. The Complaint states, "at the relevant times alleged herein, Defendants were operating either as Clearview Eye Care, Inc. or were operating as general partners." Id. at ¶ 4. Furthermore, "Clearview has at least 15 employees." Id. at ¶ 5. According to the Complaint, "Defendants qualify as an 'employer' as set forth in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 [("ADEA")], as codified, 29 U.S.C.§§ 621 et seq." Id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiff claims he "filed a Charge of Discrimination against Clearview Eye care, Inc. [sic] d/b/a Coastal Vision and its owners for the unlawful employment practices set forth herein with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and did so within the required time limits specified by law and regulation." Id. at ¶ 16. The EEOC sent Plaintiff a Notice of Right to Sue on or about September 28, 2015. Id. at ¶ 17; A/, at, Ex. 1.

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint against Defendant on December 23, 2015. Id. Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Award Fees on February 26, 2016. Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 4; and Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 6. Plaintiff responded in opposition to both motions on March 8, 2016. Mem. in Opp'n to Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 11; and Mem. in Opp'n to Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 12. Plaintiff also filed a Cross Motion to Award Fees on March 8, 2016. ECF No. 13. Defendants replied on March 11, 2016, and the Court partially granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, and denied Defendant's Motion for Attorney Fees on August 9, 2016. See Reply to Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 15; Reply to Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 16; and Mem. Order, ECF No. 17.

         Defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint on September 20, 2016. Answer to Compl., ECF No. 25. The Court issued a Rule 16(b) Scheduling Order on October 27, 2016. Rule 16(b) Scheduling Order, ECF No. 27.

         Defendant moved for a Settlement Conference on November 4, 2016. Mot. for Settlement Conference, ECF No. 28. Defendant also moved for clarification of the Court's Order on November 5, 2016. Mot. for Clarification Order, ECF No. 29. Plaintiff responded in opposition to both motions on November 14, 2016. Resp. in Opp'n to Mot. for Settlement Conference, ECF No. 30; and Resp. in Opp'n to Mot. for Clarification, ECF No. 31. Plaintiff moved for attorney fees, and filed a supporting memorandum on November 14, 2016. Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 32 and Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 33.

         Defendant filed Rebuttal Briefs for both the Motion for Clarification and the Motion for Settlement Conference, ECF Nos. 34-35, as well as a response in opposition to Plaintiffs Motion for Attorney Fees on November 17, 2016. Opp. Mot. to Att'y Fees, ECF No. 36. The Court denied Defendant's Motion for a Settlement Conference on November 18, 2016. Order Den. Mot. for Settlement Conference, ECF No. 37. The Court also clarified its Order on December 19.2016. Clarification Order, ECF No. 38.

         Plaintiff moved the Court to reconsider its Clarification Order and filed a supporting brief on January 5, 2017. Mot. for Recons., ECF No. 39; and Br. in Supp. to Mot. for Recons., ECF No. 40. Defendant responded in opposition to Plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration on January 17.2017. Opp'n to Mot, for Recons., ECF No. 41. Defendant also moved for a Protective Order and filed a supporting brief on January 20, 2017. Mot. for Protective Order, ECF No. 42; Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Protective Order, ECF No. 23; and Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Protective Order with Remaining Ex., ECF No. 44. The Court denied Plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration. Order Den. Mot. for Recons., ECF No. 45. Plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition to Defendant's Motion for Protective Order. Mem. in Opp'n to Mot. for Protective Order, ECF No. 46.

         Plaintiff also moved for attorney fees and filed a supporting memorandum on January 31, 2016. Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 47; and Mem. in Supp. to Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 48. Defendant filed a Rebuttal Brief in support of its Motion for a Protective Order on February 1, 2017. Rebuttal Br. to Mot. for Protective Order, ECF No. 49. Defendant also filed a memorandum in opposition to Plaintiffs Motion for Attorney Fees on that same day. Mem. in Opp'n to Att'y Fees, ECF No. 50.

         Defendant moved to Amend its Answer, and filed a supporting memorandum on February 3, 2017. ECF No. 51. Plaintiff filed a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal on February 3, 2017. Joint Stipulation, ECF No. 53. Defendant moved for Attorney fees on February 17, 2017, Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 54, and filed a supporting memorandum on February 18, 2017. Mem. in Supp. to Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 55. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendant's Motion for Attorney Fees on February 27, 2017. Resp. in Opp'n to Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 56. Defendant filed a response in support of its Motion for Attorney Fees on March 2, 2017. Resp. in Supp. to Mot. for Att'y Fees, ECF No. 57. Plaintiff moved for a hearing on May 4, 2017. PL's Req. for Hr'g on Mot. for Recons., ECF No. 63. Defendant opposed Plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration on May 15, 2017. Opp'n to Mot. for Recons., ECF No. 64. The Court denied Plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration on May 17, 2017. Order Den. Mot. for Recons., ECF No. 65.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The touchstone of any award of attorney fees and expenses is reasonableness. SunTrust Mortg., Inc. v. AIG United Guar. Corp., 933 F.Supp.2d 762, 769 (E.D. Va. 2013) (quoting EX DuPont de Nemours and Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., Civil Action No. 3:09cv058, 2013 WL 458532, at *2 (E.D. Va. Feb. 6, 2013)). The fee applicant bears the burden of demonstrating the reasonableness of its fee request, Kenney v. A Touch of Patience Shared Hous., Inc., 779 F.Supp.2d 516, 525 (E.D. Va. 2011), and of "providing sufficient detail in [its] records to explain and support [its] requests for fees and costs." Andrade v. Aerotek, Inc., 852 F.Supp.2d 637, 645 (D. Md. 2012). Indeed, "the party who seeks payment must keep records in sufficient detail that a neutral judge can make a fair evaluation of the time expended, the nature and need for the service, and the reasonable fees to be allowed." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 441 (1983) (Burger, C.J., concurring).

         To calculate an attorney fees award, the Court must determine a "lodestar fee." Grissom v. The Miller Corp., 549 F.3d 313, 320-21 (4th Cir. 2008); Brodziak v. Runyon, 43 F.3d 194, 196 (4th Cir. 1998). The United States Supreme Court ("Supreme Court") has stated that there is a "strong presumption" that the lodestar figure represents a reasonable attorney fee award, which may be overcome only "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, 553-54 (2010).

         The lodestar fee is calculated by multiplying the number of reasonable hours expended times a reasonable rate. Id. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ("Fourth Circuit") has held that the twelve factors must be applied in determining the reasonable hourly rates and hours expended. See Daly v. Hill, 790 F.2d 1071, 1077 (4th Cir. 1986). These factors include:

(1) the time and labor required;
(2) the novelty and difficulty of the ...

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