United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
H. Miller United states District Judge.
Pending before the court is plaintiff Patty Knoerr's
motion for attorneys' fees and costs. Dkt. 13. Having
considered the motion, related filings, and applicable law,
the court is of the opinion that Knoerr's motion for fees
and costs (Dkt. 13) should be GRANTED.
March 7, 2016, Knoerr filed her complaint against defendant
Pinnacle Asset Group, L.L.C., (“Pinnacle”) for
violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”). Dkt. 1 (citing 15 U.S.C. § 1692).
On April 6, 2016, Pinnacle was served with process, and has
not answered or otherwise responded. Dkt. 5; see
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a). On August 18, 2016, Knoerr moved for
entry of default judgment against Pinnacle. Dkt. 9, Ex. 1. On
March 20, 2017, the court granted default judgment in favor
of Knoerr and awarded $1, 000.00 in statutory damages. Dkt.
10. The court also held that Knoerr was entitled to
reasonable attorneys' fees and costs and granted Knoerr
an extension to submit evidence of her attorneys' fees
and costs. Id.; Dkt. 12. On May 10, 2017, Knoerr
filed her motion for attorneys' fees and costs, seeking a
total award of $3, 380.00. Dkt. 13. Pinnacle has not filed
any objections. Id.
the FDCPA, a plaintiff in a “successful action to
enforce [FDCPA] liability” can recover “the costs
of the action, together with a reasonable attorney's fee
as determined by the court.” 15 U.S.C. §
1692k(a)(3). Here, Knoerr prevailed in the litigation and is
entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
court has determined that a plaintiff is entitled to
attorneys' fees, then it must determine the amount.
Hopwood v. Texas, 236 F.3d 256, 277 (5th Cir. 2000).
Courts use a two-step process to calculate reasonable
attorneys' fees. Migis v. Pearle Vision, Inc.,
135 F.3d 1041, 1047 (5th Cir.1998). First, the court
calculates a “lodestar” fee by multiplying the
reasonable number of hours spent on the case by the
reasonable hourly rates for the participating lawyers.
Id. Second, the court considers whether the lodestar
should be adjusted upward or downward depending on the
circumstances of the case, under the twelve Johnson
factors. Id. (citing Johnson v. Ga. Highway
Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir.1974)).
“In many consumer cases, which limit recoveries to a
relatively small damages amount, the fees awarded are
seemingly disproportionate. This does not ‘render the
award of attorneys' fees excessive.'”
Malick v. NCO Fin. Servs., Inc., CIV.A. H-14-1545,
2015 WL 4078037, at *3 (S.D. Tex. July 6, 2015) (Rosenthal,
J.) (citing Northwinds Abatement v. Emp'rs Ins.,
258 F.3d 345, 355 (5th Cir. 2001)).
reasonable rate for attorneys' fees awarded under §
1692k(a)(3) is the prevailing market rate for attorneys of
comparable experience employed in cases of similar
complexity. See Cope v. Duggins, 203 F.Supp.2d 650,
655 (E.D. La. 2002) (citing Blum v. Stenson, 465
U.S. 886, 895-96, n.11 (1984)). The movant seeking
attorneys' fees bears the initial burden of submitting
adequate documentation of the hours expended and hourly
rates. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437, 103
S.Ct. 1933 (1983).
seeks $2, 145.00 in attorneys' fees, an additional
$750.00 for preparing the fee petition, and $485.00 in costs
for the filing fee and the service of process. Dkt. 13, Exs.
A, B. She requests a total amount of $3, 380.00. Id.
Knoerr asserts her counsel, Jenny DeFrancisco, a senior
associate at Lemberg Law, worked 5.9 hours at a rate of $300
an hour, and a paralegal worked 3 hours at a rate of $125.
Id. (citing Malick, 2015 WL 4078037, at *3
(“Attorneys in FDCPA cases within the Southern District
of Texas, Houston Division, are generally awarded fees using
a $300.00 hourly rate.”)). Multiplying DeFrancisco and
her paralegal's reasonable hours by their reasonable
hourly rate results in a lodestar amount of $2, 145.00. Dkt.
worked an additional 2.5 hours in drafting the fee petition
at a rate of $300, and seeks a total of $750.00 for preparing
the fee application. Id. The court finds this is
reasonable. See Prater v. Commerce Equities Mgmt. Co.,
Inc., CIV.A. H-07-2349, 2008 WL 5140045, at *7 (S.D.
Tex. Dec. 8, 2008) (Rosenthal, J.) (collecting cases)
(“In general, when a plaintiff is awarded reasonable
attorneys' fees, the plaintiff is also entitled to an
award of reasonable attorneys' fees in connection with
the time spent to prepare the fee application.”).
has met her burden of showing the amount of attorneys'
fees and costs totaling $3, 380.00 are reasonable. Dkt. 13,
Ex. A (attorney time-log), Ex. B (costs). No additional facts
indicate that the lodestar should be adjusted. Therefore, the
court AWARDS Knoerr attorneys' fees and costs in the
amount of $3, 380.00.
motion for fees and costs (Dkt. 13) is GRANTED. The court
hereby AWARDS Knoerr the ...