Monday, November 21, 2016
In Dias v DeSouza, 2016 WL 6821067 (D. Mass) the Court granted the Petition of Marina De Aguiar for the return her thirteen-year-old daughter, to Brazil and found that Petitioner had established the prerequisite for an award of necessary expenses under the fee-shifting provision of the ICARA, 22 U.S.C. § 9007(b)(3). Petitioner filed a motion in which Petitioner requested an award of attorneys’ fees in the amount of $28,697.50 and costs in the amount of $1,004.20, for a total award of $29,701.70. The motion was granted for an amount less than requested by Petitioner. The District Court observed that the primary issues which the Court must resolve in determining whether such an award is appropriate is “first, whether the claimed expenses are ‘necessary,’ and second, whether an order against respondent would be ‘clearly inappropriate.’ ” De Souza v. Negri, No. 14-13788-DJC; 2015 WL 727934, at *2 (D.Mass. February 19, 2015) The burden of proof to establish necessity is upon the Petitioner. The burden to establish that a fee award would be “clearly inappropriate” is upon the Respondent. The Court found that Petitioner had limited financial means. Petitioner’s legal team consisted of a paralegal billed at the rate of $150.00 per hour and two partner level attorneys, one of whom billed at the hourly rate of $400.00 and one of whom was billed at the hourly rate of 375.00. The Court found that the rates charged by these attorneys were reasonable considering the usual price charged for similar services in Boston, but were slightly on the high end for similar services in this area. For that reason, it reduced each of the attorney’s hourly rates by $25.00. It reduced the rate charged for the paralegal to $90.00 per hour, which is in line with the rate charged by a moderately experienced paralegal in Central Massachusetts. The Court agreed with Respondent that there was some overlap between the two attorneys and that the sparsity of detail with regard to services rendered warrantsed a reduction in the amount of the fees. Thus, it reduced each attorneys’ hours by approximately one third. It found all costs ($1,004.20) to have been necessary. Therefore, the total recovery of necessary attorneys’ fees and costs was $18,704.20. The Court found that Respondent failed to establish that an award of attorneys’ fees and costs to Petitioner would be clearly inappropriate.