United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEY'S FEES AND
LEVY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
was held in this case beginning on October 26, 2015, on
Catherine Prescott's claims for unlawful discrimination,
failure to accommodate, and retaliation in violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C.
§ 12101 et seq.; the Maine Human Rights Act
("MHRA"), 5 M.R.S. § 4551 et seq.;
and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et
seq. ECF No. 1. On October 29, the jury returned a
verdict in Prescott's favor on all counts and awarded her
$34, 285.00 in back pay and $1, 400.00 in compensatory
damages. ECF No. 123.
now seeks an award of attorney's fees in the amount of
$154, 173.00, ECF No. 149, and costs in the amount of $2,
787.95, ECF No. 150. Rumford Hospital opposes both awards.
ECF No. 151. For the reasons discussed below, Prescott's
Motion for Award of Attorney's Fees is granted in part
and her Bill of Costs is granted.
starting point in setting an attorney's fee award is
determining the lodestar figure-that is, the number of hours
reasonably expended to prosecute the lawsuit multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461
U.S. 424, 433 (1983); see also Gay Officers Action League
v. Puerto Rico, 247 F.3d 288, 295 (1st Cir. 2001). The
fee applicant bears the burden of producing materials that
support the request, which should include "counsel's
contemporaneous time and billing records, suitably detailed,
and information [about] the law firm's standard billing
rates." Hutchinson ex. rel. Julien v. Patrick,
636 F.3d 1, 13 (1st Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). The party
opposing the fee award may submit countervailing evidence.
Id. (citing Foley v. City of Lowell, 948
F.2d 10, 20-21 (1st Cir. 1991)). The court "will then
calculate the time counsel spent on the case, subtract
duplicative, unproductive, or excessive hours, and apply
prevailing rates in the community (taking into account the
qualifications, experience, and specialized competence of the
attorneys involved."). Id. (quoting Gay
Officers Action League, 247 F.3d at 295) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
calculating the lodestar fee, "the trial court has the
discretion to adjust the lodestar itself upwards or downwards
based on several different factors, including the results
obtained, and the time and labor required for the efficacious
handling of the matter." De Jesús Nazario v.
Morris-Rodríguez, 554 F.3d 196, 207 (1st Cir.
2009) (citing Torres-Rivera v. O'Neill-Cancel,
524 F.3d 331, 336 (1st Cir. 2008)); see also,
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 436-37.
counsel are Chad Hansen and Peter Thompson, both members of
the Maine Employee Rights Group, a law firm in Portland,
Maine. They have represented Prescott in this case since
February 2013. Attorney Hansen has twelve years of experience
representing employees in employment discrimination cases,
and his hourly rate throughout the case was $300. ECF No. 149
at 9; ECF No. 149-1 at 1. Attorney Thompson has twenty-two
years of experience representing employees in employment
discrimination cases, and his hourly rate throughout the case
was $350 per hour. ECF No. 149 at 9; ECF No. 149-6 at 1. The
reasonableness of Attorney Hansen's and Attorney
Thompson's hourly rates is supported by the affidavits of
Maria Fox, an attorney in the Portland, Maine, law firm
Mittel Asen, LLC (ECF No. 149-3); John Gause, a partner in
the Bangor, Maine, law firm Eastern Maine Law (ECF No.
149-4); and Jeffrey Neil Young, a partner in the Augusta,
Maine, law firm Johnson, Webbert, & Young (ECF No. 149-5).
Hospital objects to Hansen's and Thompson's hourly
rates for two reasons. First, relying upon Sullivan v.
City of Augusta, 625 F.Supp.2d 28, 43 (D. Me. 2009), the
Hospital argues that Prescott provided insufficient evidence
to substantiate that Hansen's and Thompson's $300 and
$350 rates, respectively, were actually in effect over the
entire course of the litigation, when the work was performed.
ECF No. 151 at 7. Yet Prescott has submitted precisely such
evidence in the form of Hansen's and Thompson's
contemporaneous time records, which reflect that Hansen
billed at an hourly rate of $300 when he began work on the
case in February 2013 and that Thompson billed at an hourly
rate of $350 when he began working on the case in March 2014.
See ECF No. 149-2 at 1, 5.
Rumford Hospital argues that Hansen's and Thompson's
rates are higher than what Maine-based counsel typically
charge to individual plaintiffs on an hourly basis. ECF No.
151 at 8. The sole citation in support of this argument is
the affidavit of Michael Poulin, one of Rumford
Hospital's attorneys and a partner in the Auburn, Maine,
law firm Skelton, Taintor & Abbott. Id. at 8 (citing
ECF No. 151-1). In his affidavit, Attorney Poulin states that
his hourly rate in this litigation ranged from $265 to $275;
that the hourly rate of defense counsel Rebecca Webber, also
a partner at Skelton, Taintor & Abbott, ranged from $240 to
$250; and that the hourly rate of defense counsel Amy
Dieterich, an associate at the same firm, was $210. ECF No.
151-1 at 1-2.
relevant, I am not persuaded that, hourly rates charged by
the Hospital's attorneys should control the rate of
compensation used to determine the plaintiff's
attorney's fees. Attorney Poulin's affidavit does not
address what Maine-based counsel typically charge to
employee-plaintiffs, as opposed to institutional employer
defendants such as Rumford Hospital. The Poulin affidavit
also does not explain the extent to which the hourly rate
charged to Rumford Hospital may reflect by an ongoing
professional relationship between his law firm and the
court has concluded in the recent past that a $300 hourly
rate for experienced, Maine-based counsel such as Attorney
Hansen is reasonable, and I conclude that $300 per hour is
reasonable and appropriate in this case. IMS Health Corp.
v. Schneider, 901 F.Supp.2d 172, 195 (D. Me. 2012). I
also conclude that a higher hourly rate of $350 for Attorney
Thompson is reasonable, given his greater experience
litigating employment law cases.
also seeks to collect attorney's fees for the Maine
Employee Rights Group's associate attorney, Allison Gray,
whose hourly rate is $175; its investigator, Barbara Lelli,
whose hourly rate is $165 per hour; and its paralegal,
Patricia Rutherford, whose hourly rate is $125. ECF No. 149
at 10. Rumford Hospital does not object to Attorney
Gray's rate. See ECF No. 151. It does, however,
argue that Rutherford's rate is "substantially in
excess of what Maine law firms charge their clients for
paralegal services[, ]" relying again on Attorney
Poulin's affidavit for support. ECF No. 151 at 8 (citing
ECF No. 151-1 at 2). The Hospital also objects to Lelli's
rate, arguing that the work she performed, as described in
the time entries for her work, was more in the nature of
paralegal work. Id. at 8-9 (citing ECF No. 149-2 at
6, 10, 13, 14, 15, 18, 20).
court has accepted paralegal rates ranging from $90 to $112
as the prevailing market rate for experienced paralegals in
specialized fields such as intellectual property. Pearson
v. Astrue, 2012 WL 837243, at *1 (D. Me. Mar. 12, 2012)
(discussing prior cases accepting prevailing market rates for
paralegals in copyright and patent/trademark cases). Although
Rutherford's affidavit states that she has 22 years of
experience focused on employment law, ECF No. 149-8, Prescott
offered no record evidence suggesting that the market rate
for paralegal services in employment cases is equivalent to
that for intellectual property law, see ECF No. 149.
Even if she had offered such evidence, $125 is more than the
upper range previously identified by this court. See
Pearson, 2012 WL 837243, at *1. I conclude, therefore,
that a downward adjustment in Rutherford's hourly rate is
warranted. In Desena v. Lepage, 847 F.Supp.2d 207,
213-14 (D. Me. 2012), a three-judge panel of this court
accepted a $95 hourly rate for paralegal work and also made
note of a "$100 prevailing rate for experienced
specialized paralegals[.]" Based upon this relatively
recent precedent, I set Rutherford's hourly rate at $105,
which is the specialized paralegal rate identified in
Desena, adjusted for inflation. See
(reflecting that $100 in 2012 is worth $104.21 in 2016)
(lasted visited on June 9, 2016). This results in a reduction
of $260 from Prescott's fee award.
conclude that Lelli's work as described in
plaintiff's counsel's contemporaneous time records
resembles paralegal work more so than any specialized work
falling under the rubric of "investigator."
Prescott has submitted no evidence which explains how
Lelli's work in this case was more specialized and
therefore compensable at a higher rate than paralegal work.
Therefore, I also set Lelli's hourly rate at $105. This
results in a reduction of $1, 949.50 from Prescott's fee