Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Alanis v. Reyes, 2017 WL 1498252( N.D. Miss, 2017)[Mexico][Attorneys Fees]
In Alanis v. Reyes, 2017 WL 1498252( N.D. Miss, 2017) the Court granted the petition and ordered that DFB be returned to Petitioner Lourdes Guadalupe Loredo Alanis in Mexico. On February 17, 2017, Petitioner filed a bill of costs with supporting documentation. On March 7, 2017, the Clerk of Court taxed Petitioner’s bill of costs against Respondent in the amount of $2,429, for the following: fees of the Clerk, $400; fees for service of summons and subpoena, $35; fees for witnesses, $635.80; compensation of interpreters and costs of special interpretation services under 28 U.S.C. § 1828, $300; and mileage incurred by Petitioner and Anel Valdivia to return DFB to Mexico, pursuant to the Court’s Order, $1,058.20. Petitioner filed a motion for costs, expenses, and attorney’s fees. Respondent Jose Carmen Badillo Reyes did not file a response,
The district court held that fact that Petitioner’s legal representation was pro bono did not render the award of fees and costs improper. See Salazar, 750 F.3d at 518 (citing Cuellar v. Joyce, 603 F.3d 1142, 1143 (9th Cir. 2010) Because Respondent did not file a response, he could not establish that an order awarding costs, expenses, and attorney’s fees would be “clearly inappropriate.” See Ostos v. Vega, 2016 WL 1170830, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 25, 2016).
The district court analyzed awards of attorney’s fees under ICARA where the Court must (1) calculate reasonable attorney’s fees and (2) review the fees in light of the twelve factors set forth in Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714 (5th Cir. 1974). The Fifth Circuit has approved a two-step process that uses the “lodestar” method to calculate reasonable attorney’s fees, multiplying the number of hours spent on the matter by a reasonable hourly rate for such work in the community. Reasonable hourly rates are typically calculated through affidavits by attorneys practicing in the community in which the district court is located.“In calculating the lodestar, ‘[t]he court should exclude all time that is excessive, duplicative, or inadequately documented.’ ” However, “there is a ‘strong presumption’ that the lodestar figure is reasonable.” Perdue v. Kenny A. ex rel. Winn, 559 U.S. 542, 554, 130 S. Ct. 1662, 1673, 176 L.Ed. 2d 494 (2010).
Petitioner’s counsel provided documentation supporting that he expended 56.25 hours on the case, and at his 2016 billing rate of $210 and 2017 rate of $220, the lodestar calculation was $12,210. Petitioner’s counsel attached his own detailed billing records documenting the hours he worked and each service performed, as well as the affidavit of LaToya C. Merritt, a Mississippi attorney, supporting the reasonableness of Petitioner’s counsel’s fee and hourly billing rate for the legal representation and supporting the Johnson factors. Petitioner’s counsel’s billing records indicated that the time spent on the case was reasonable. In carefully examining these line items in light of the Johnson factors, the Court found that the time spent on these tasks, which were necessary to the proceedings, was reasonable.
The Court found that the time claimed for the travel time and hearing attendance was reasonable. The line items for communication concerning the return of DFB to Mexico was reimbursable as reasonable and a necessary expense under the ICARA; preparation of the motion for fees and costs and preparation of the bill of costs and supporting exhibits/documentation were proper and recoverable, as “[i]t is settled that a prevailing plaintiff is entitled to attorney’s fees for the effort entailed in litigating a fee claim and securing compensation.” See Cruz v. Hauck, 762 F.2d 1230, 1233 (5th Cir. 1985).Petitioner was entitled to attorney’s fees in the amount of $12,210.
The Court held that the following costs enumerated in the bill of costs were recoverable under Section 1920: fees of the Clerk, $400; fees for service of summons and subpoena, $35; fees for witnesses, $635.80; and compensation of interpreters and costs of special interpretation services under 28 U.S.C. § 1828, $300. Petitioner’s requested reimbursement of $205.30 for copying was a recoverable cost under Section 1920, because Petitioner had verified through supporting documentation that the particular copies were “necessarily obtained for use in the case.” See Gagnon v. United Technisource, Inc., 607 F.3d 1036, 1045 (5th Cir. 2010). Petitioner’s counsel demonstrated the necessity of the long distance telephone calls, having included line items indicating the necessity of calling the United States State Department, an attorney in Mexico, the Mexican consulate, and Petitioner concerning the return of DFB to Mexico. Petitioner also requested reimbursement of $170.50 in mileage incurred by Petitioner’s counsel for travel to the hearing. “Reasonable transportation and lodging costs incurred by an out-of-town attorney are awardable under § 11607(b)(3).” Saldivar v. Rodela, 894 F. Supp. 2d 916, 944 (W.D. Tex. 2012). The Court found that Petitioner demonstrated the necessity of this expense in the bill of costs, Petitioner requested $1,058.20 for mileage incurred by Petitioner and Anel Valdivia to return DFB to Mexico. The Court found that this travel cost was proper under the ICARA, as it was a “necessary expense[ ] incurred by or on behalf of the petitioner ... related to the return of the child.” See 22 U.S.C. § 9007(b)(3).
Petitioner was awarded $12,210 in reasonable attorney’s fees and $2,821.59 in ancillary costs and expenses. The total amount of costs, expenses, and attorney’s fees was $15,031.59. Interest was to accrue on the amount awarded Petitioner Lourdes Guadalupe Loredo Alanis at the rate of 1.02 % from the date of the order until it is paid in full.