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GILBERT v. CITY OF LITTLE ROCK

August 4, 1987

JOHNNIE GILBERT, HORACE WALTERS, ANDREW LOCKHART and BILLY O'DONALD, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS; THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS; WALTER E. "SONNY" SIMPSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CHIEF OF POLICE OF THE CITY OF LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS; and CARLTON E. McMULLEN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CITY MANAGER OF THE CITY OF LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS, DEFENDANTS


Elsijane T. Roy, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROY

ELSIJANE T. ROY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 I. Horace Walters' Back Pay

 On August 28, 1986, 799 F.2d 1210, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit filed its Opinion in this cause (Gilbert II) in which it directed, inter alia, that plaintiffs Gilbert, O'Donald, Lockhart, and Walters be given permanent promotions to sergeant as soon as positions are available, and that they be compensated for lost wages and benefits from the dates they would have been promoted absent discrimination until they actually were promoted. *fn1" As noted previously, the parties stipulated to the relief to which Gilbert, O'Donald and Lockhart were entitled. From the pleadings recently filed, it appears that the Court need only address the issue of back pay for plaintiff Walters.

 Walters was actually promoted to sergeant in 1980, not long after the date the Eighth Circuit found he would have been promoted had he not been discriminated against on account of his race. For that reason, he received a higher salary than Gilbert, O'Donald, and Lockhart during the several years that followed. On account of this, defendants contend that Walters is entitled to less back pay than the others, by their figures $ 331.73. On the other hand, Walters asserts that he is entitled to $ 9,324.95. Walters claims that he should have been promoted to lieutenant in October of 1981, rather than October of 1983, the actual date he became a lieutenant, and that he should receive back pay for that deprivation, as well. The disparity between plaintiffs' and defendants' back pay figures primarily stems from their difference of opinion as to when Walters should have been made lieutenant.

 Although determined to make Walters whole for the injuries he suffered at the hands of defendants, the Court cannot say with certainty that he would have been promoted to lieutenant in October of 1981 but for the unlawful discrimination. Clearly, the Court cannot award any relief, back pay or otherwise, on such a speculative basis. Accordingly, the Court finds that Horace Walters is entitled to back pay from defendants in the amount of $ 331.73, representing the salary he was denied by virtue of the delay of his promotion to sergeant. Inasmuch as the other types of relief mandated by the Eighth Circuit have not been addressed by the parties in their pleadings and memoranda, the Court assumes that those matters have been disposed of through stipulation.

 II. Attorney's Fees and Costs

 Defendants concede that, for the purposes of the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. § 1988, plaintiffs are "prevailing parties" herein and are entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs. That given, this Court need only determine what amount of fees and costs will be "reasonable" under the circumstances of this case, as guided by the pronouncements of the United States Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on the subject.

 A. Attorney's Fees

 "The most useful starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983); see also Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 79 L. Ed. 2d 891, 104 S. Ct. 1541 (1984) ("product of reasonable hours times a reasonable rate normally provides a reasonable attorney's fee within the meaning of the statute"). This computation yields what is known as the "lodestar" amount. Although this formula provides a sound basis for computing an estimate of the fee a lawyer should receive in any particular case, it "does not end the inquiry. There remain other considerations that may lead the district court to adjust the fee upward or downward, including the important factor of the 'results obtained.'" Hensley v. Eckerhart, supra, 461 U.S. at 434. Other factors which should be considered in determining the propriety of fee enhancement or reduction are set out in Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714 (5th Cir. 1974). *fn2" Plaintiffs, through the affidavits of their counsel, request attorney's fees for the hours reflected below at the claimed hourly rates, as follows: Hours Attorney Expended Hourly Rate Lodestar Fee Phillip J. Duncan 1,662.69 $ 125.00 $ 207,836.25 Thomas M. Bramhall 153.75 $ 125.00 19,218.75 Ralph C. Ohm 354.94 $ 65.00 23,071.10 Ralph C. Ohm (law clerk) 239.50 $ 25.00 5,987.50 TOTAL $ 256,113.60

19870804

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