United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES OR TO ENFORCE
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
petition for attorney's fees and costs pursuant to the
fee-shifting provision of 42 U.S.C. § 1988(a), the Court
grants and denies the petition in part. The Court resolves
disputes about whether the Defendants entered into an
enforceable settlement agreement on attorney's fees, the
proper hourly rates for attorneys and paralegals for the main
case and for the attorney's fee petition, objections
about duplicated and excessive time, carve-out fees for legal
work upon which the Plaintiff did not prevail, and allocation
of work among attorneys and paralegals within the law firm.
The Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. Lawsuit
October 24, 2017, Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. (CCWI)
filed a lawsuit against Paul R. LePage, Governor of the state
of Maine, and John Butera, Commissioner of the state of Maine
Department of Labor, asking this Court to issue an injunction
to force the Governor and Commissioner to turn over Workforce
Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds to CCWI.
Compl. (ECF No. 1). With the Complaint, CCWI filed a
motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO). Pl.'s
Mot. for TRO (ECF No. 3). After the Defendants released
some funds, CCWI dismissed its motion for a TRO and CCWI
elected to proceed with a motion for preliminary injunction.
Order (ECF No. 13).
November 17, 2017, CCWI filed a motion for a preliminary
injunction. Pl.'s Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (ECF No.
16). The issue was rapidly but thoroughly litigated, and on
January 3, 2018, the Court issued an order on the
Defendants' motion to dismiss and on CCWI's motion
for preliminary injunction. Order on Mot. to Dismiss and
Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (ECF No. 42). The Court denied the
Defendants' motion to dismiss, dismissed CCWI's
motion for preliminary injunction as applied to PY16 funds,
and granted it as applied to PY17 funds. Id. at
63-64. On January 11, 2018, the Court issued a formal order,
granting CCWI's request for injunctive relief for the
PY17 funds. Order on Pl.'s Req. for Inj. Relief
(ECF No. 45).
same day, the Defendants filed an interlocutory appeal and a
motion to stay the Court's order. Notice of Appeal of
Defs. Paul R. LePage and John Butera (ECF No. 46);
Defs. Paul R. LePage and John Butera's Mot. for Stay
Pending Appeal (ECF No. 47). On January 24, 2018, the
Court denied the motion to stay. Order on Mot. to
Stay (ECF No. 53). CCWI and the Defendants entered into
a Subrecipient Award Agreement for distribution of the PY17
WIOA Funds and the parties agreed that the Court could issue
a permanent injunction in accordance with the Subrecipient
Agreement; on March 1, 2018, the Court did so. Order on
Pl.'s Req. for Permanent Inj. Relief and Pl.'s Mot.
to Consolidate (ECF No. 64). On March 1, 2018, the Court
entered an order of dismissal and a judgment of dismissal was
entered without prejudice. Order of Dismissal (ECF
No. 65); J. (ECF No. 66). On March 2, 2018, the
Court of Appeals for the First Circuit dismissed the appeal
upon the parties' joint motion, J. (ECF No. 68),
and on the same day, the First Circuit issued its mandate.
Mandate (ECF No. 69).
The Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. Motion
March 31, 2018, CCWI moved for an award of attorney's
fees. Pl.'s Mot. to Enforce Settlement Agreement or,
in the Alternative, Mot. for Att'y's Fees and
Costs (ECF No. 70) (Pl.'s Mot.). On May 8,
2018, the Defendants filed their opposition. Defs.'
Opp'n to Mot. to Enforce Settlement Agreement (ECF
No. 77) (Defs.' Opp'n). On May 22, 2018,
CCWI filed its reply. Pl.'s Reply in Support of Mot.
to Enforce Settlement Agreement or, in the Alternative, Mot.
for Att'y's Fees and Costs (ECF No. 78)
THE POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
motion, CCWI asks the Court to enforce a settlement agreement
between the parties in the amount of $134, 000 plus $14,
818.53 in additional fees incurred after the settlement
agreement (for a total of $148, 818.53) or to order the
Defendants to pay CCWI's attorney's fees and
litigation expenses in the total amount of $155, 771.63.
The Defendants' Position
Defendants acknowledge that they owe an attorney's fee
but ask the Court to award a total of $111, 091.53 for the
merits phase and $6, 399 for work associated with CCWI's
pursuit of attorney's fees or a total of $117, 490.53.
eliminating some duplicate entries, reducing travel time to a
half hourly rate, justifying other contested charges, and
increasing its request for $4, 226.50 for the legal work in
its reply, CCWI reduced its demand for time and charges to
Court finally resigned itself to the fact that such fine
attorneys have not been able to find a way to compromise the
$30, 000 to $37, 000 difference between their positions and
require the Court to resolve this dispute in a written
opinion. It would seem that a little flexibility on both
sides was in order. The Court tugged on the motion for a time
in hopes that the attorneys would alert the Court that they
had resolved their differences. But hearing nothing and with
the end of the year approaching, the Court is aware that law
firms usually like to tidy up their books by the turn of the
year and the Court assumes that this is one controversy the
LePage administration might not want to leave for the Mills
administration. The Court issues this opinion to resolve the
Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement
attorneys represent that on February 21, 2018, at the request
of counsel for Defendants, they provided counsel for the
Defendants with an itemized statement of fees and costs
through February 20, 2018. Pl.'s Mot. Attach. 1,
Decl. of Kelly W. McDonald, Esq. ¶ 7. The fees
were $140, 953.10. Id. ¶ 8. On Friday, February
23, 2018, counsel for the Defendants offered on behalf of the
Defendants to pay $134, 000 in full satisfaction of
CCWI's fee claim. Id. ¶ 9. On Monday,
February 26, 2018, Attorney McDonald conveyed CCWI's
acceptance of the Defendants' offer. Id. ¶
10. Attorney McDonald says that over the next two weeks, it
became clear that the Defendants were not willing to comply
with the fee ...