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HOLLOWELL v. GRAVETT

August 24, 1989

CALVIN HOLLOWELL, PLAINTIFF
v.
CARROLL L. GRAVETT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOWARD, JR.

 GEORGE HOWARD, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Pending before the Court are the applications for attorney's fees and costs of Horace A. Walker, Esq., and John W. Walker, Esq., counsel for plaintiff. These civil rights actions were settled during the course of trial pursuant to a Settlement Agreement dated November 1, 1988, approved by the Court on November 2, 1988. According to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, plaintiff was recognized as the prevailing party pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1988 and 2000e et seq.

 ATTORNEY'S FEES

 Horace A. Walker requests an award of attorney's fees in the amount of $ 104,215.00 and costs of $ 1,305.00. John W. Walker requests an award of attorney's fees in the amount of $ 107,375.00. While defendants agree that counsel are entitled to reasonable fees, they object to the amounts requested, particularly counsel's request for a premium hourly rate and an enhancement based on contingency.

 Section 1988 provides that the Court, "in its discretion, may allow . . . a reasonable attorney's fee. . . ." "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, 103 S. Ct. 1933, 1939, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40 (1983). This amount is referred to as the "lodestar" amount. Prevailing plaintiffs are not entitled to compensation for those hours claimed that were not "reasonably expended." Id. In addition, the Court must consider whether the requested fees are reasonable. "Reasonable fees" in federal civil rights actions are to be calculated according to the prevailing market rates in the relevant community. Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 104 S. Ct. 1541, 1547, 79 L. Ed. 2d 891 (1984). The burden is on the applicant to produce satisfactory evidence by attorneys of reasonable comparable skill, expertise and reputation.

 In assessing whether the hours expended by counsel were actually and reasonably spent, the Court has carefully scrutinized all the submissions of plaintiff's counsel.

 A brief review of the procedural history is necessary before discussing the claims of counsel. On April 6, 1986, plaintiff through retained counsel Horace W. Walker filed suit in federal court against defendant Gravett alleging violation of his constitutional rights to procedural due process in that Gravett did not provide plaintiff with a pretermination hearing. Plaintiff further alleged that Gravett discriminated against him on the basis of his race in terminating him. This action was docketed as LR-C-86-183.

 On June 17, 1986, plaintiff filed a pro se complaint against Gravett, five Civil Service Commissioners, the county attorney and the attorney for the county sheriff, alleging violation of his constitutional right to procedural due process. This action was docketed as LR-C-86-337.

 Plaintiff filed another pro se complaint on October 8, 1986, against the same individuals as those in LR-C-86-337, and added a number of other county and law enforcement officials. Plaintiff alleged violations of Title VII and of his constitutional right to equal protection. This case was docketed as LR-C-86-600.

 The cases were eventually assigned to the Honorable Andrew W. Bogue, Senior Judge, United States District Court, South Dakota. By order entered October 14, 1987, Judge Bogue recommended that plaintiff apply for court-appointed counsel in LR-C-86-337 and 600. On November 16, 1987, pursuant to plaintiff's request, Judge Bogue appointed Marie Bernard-Miller, Esq. to represent plaintiff. Miller's request to withdraw was granted and Roy Gene Sanders was appointed by order entered January 13, 1988, to represent plaintiff in LR-C-86-337 and 600. The record in these cases reveals that Horace Walker continued to represent plaintiff on LR-C-86-183, while either plaintiff or Sanders prosecuted LR-C-86-337 and 600.

 HORACE W. ...


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