United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
V. S. GRANADE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Lodestar
Petition (Doc. 39) timely filed in response to this
Court's Order on Damages (Doc. 36). Plaintiff seeks and
award of attorney fees in the amount of $16, 680.00. Upon
consideration of the petition and exhibits presented unto the
Court, the petition is GRANTED to the extent
that, of the total request of $16, 680.00, the court will
award $15, 290.00 in attorney's fees.
The Attorney's Fee Standard
Lanham Act provides that a court may award attorney fees
“in exceptional cases.” 15 U.S.C.§ 1117(a).
This Court has previously determined that this case is one of
those exceptional cases warranting an award of attorney's
fees. (Doc. 20 at 16; Doc. 36 at 16). Therefore, the only
question before this Court is whether the amount sought by
Plaintiff is reasonable.
“[t]he starting point for calculating a reasonable
attorney's fee is “the number of hours reasonably
expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate” for the attorney's services. Norman v.
Housing Authority of the City of Montgomery, 836 F.2d
1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 1988); See Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). To make this
determination, the district court should consider the
relevant factors among the twelve factors identified in
Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express,
Inc. Bivins v. Wrap It Up, Inc., 548
F.3d 1348, 1350 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Johnson,
488 F.2d 714, 717-719 (5th Cir. 1974)). The product of these
two numbers is referred to as the “lodestar” and
there is a strong presumption that the lodestar represents a
reasonable fee. Perdue v. Kenny A. ex rel. Winn, 559
U.S. 542, 552 (2010).
calculating the lodestar, “[t]he court may then adjust
the lodestar to reach a more appropriate attorney's fee,
based on a variety of factors, including the degree of the
plaintiff's success in the suit.” Assoc. of
Disabled Americans v. Neptune Designs, Inc., 469 F.3d
1357, 1359 n.1 (11th Cir. 2006). “When the number of
compensable hours and the hourly rate are reasonable, a
downward adjustment to the lodestar is merited only if the
prevailing party was partially successful in its
efforts.” Bivins, 548 F.3d at 1350-51; Cf.
Mock v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., 456 F. App'x
799, 802 (11th Cir. 2012) (affirming a 25% reduction for lack
of success in an ADEA action). The presumption that the
lodestar is reasonable “may be overcome” and the
lodestar enhanced “in those rare circumstances in which
the lodestar does not adequately take into account a factor
that may properly be considered in determining a reasonable
fee.” Perdue, 559 U.S. at 554 (citations
omitted). The fee applicant “must produce specific
evidence” that the “enhancement was necessary to
provide fair and reasonable compensation.”
Perdue, 559 U.S. at 553 (citations omitted).
the “Johnson factors are to be considered in
determining the lodestar figure; they should not be
reconsidered in making either an upward or downward
adjustment to the lodestar - doing so amounts to
double-counting.” Bivins, 548 F.3d at 1349
(citing Burlington v. Dague, 505 U.S. 557, 562-563
(1992); Perdue, 559 U.S. at 553 (“an
enhancement may not be awarded based on a factor that is
subsumed in the lodestar calculation.”); Barnes v.
Zaccari, 592 F. App'x 859, 871 (11th Cir. 2015)
(citing Bivins, 548 F.3d at 1349).
Reasonable hourly rate
reasonable hourly rate is generally “the prevailing
market rate in the legal community for similar services by
lawyers of reasonably comparable skills, experience, and
reputation.” Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886,
895-896 n. 11, 104 S.Ct. 1541 (1984); Norman v. Housing
Authority of the City of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299
(11th Cir. 1988). The “relevant market” is the
“place where the case is filed.” American
Civil Liberties Union of Ga. v. Barnes, 168 F.3d 423,
437 (11th Cir. 1999) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). The fee applicant “bears the burden of
producing satisfactory evidence that the requested rate is in
line with prevailing market rates.” Norman,
836 F.2d at 1299. In determining a reasonable hourly rate,
Johnson factors three and nine-“the skill
requisite to perform the legal service properly” and
“the attorney's experience, reputation and
ability”-may be considered. Further, although the Court
does not give controlling weight to prior awards, those
awards are relevant and instructive in determining whether
the “requested rate is in line with prevailing market
rates” in this judicial district for attorneys of
reasonably comparable skill, experience, and reputation to
that of Ladenheim seeking an award of fees. Norman,
836 F.2d at 1299. Also, the Court is familiar with the
prevailing rates in this district and may rely upon its own
“knowledge and experience” to form an
“independent judgment” as to a reasonable hourly
rate. Loranger v. Stierheim, 10 F.3d 776, 781 (11th
Cir. 1994) (citing Norman, 836 F.2d at 1303).
seeks attorney's fees for the efforts of its counsel,
Matthew Ladenheim of Trego, Hines & Ladenheim, PLLC
(“THL”), for the time he spent litigating this
action from July 2016 to August 2017. (Doc. 39 at
Plaintiff's counsel seeks an hourly rate of $300.00. In
support of his request, Matthew Ladenheim, submitted the
following four (4) exhibits: (1) Declaration of Matthew
Ladenheim (Doc. 39-1), (2) Curriculum Vitae of
Matthew Ladenheim (Doc. 39-2), (3) AIPLA Report of Economic
Survey of 2013 (Doc. 39-3), and (4) a Memorandum Opinion from
the Northern District of Alabama, Northeastern Division from
2010 (Doc. 39-4) finding counsel's hourly rate
skill and experience, Ladenheim has seventeen (17) years
total experience, sixteen (16) years experience with
intellectual property litigation, and he has a current
practice focused on trademark prosecution and general
intellectual property litigation. (Doc. 39 at 4; Doc. 39-1).
He is a Board Certified Specialist in Trademark Law and
serves on the Trademark Specialization Committee of the North
Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. (Doc.
39-1). His standard hourly rate is $300, which he submits is
lower than the average rate for intellectual property
attorneys with 15-24 years experience ($481/per hour) and
lower than the average rate for intellectual property
attorneys in the Southeast Regional market ($402/per hour).
(Doc. 39-3). Lastly, Ladenheim submits that his requested
hourly rate in this litigation is reasonable based on a 2010
Order from the Northern District of Alabama, Northeastern
Division, which found that, at that time - when he had seven
years less experience - his hourly rate of $250 was
reasonable. (Doc. 39 at 8-9; Doc. 39-4). Ladenheim points out
that Plaintiff has been represented by THL for eight (8)
years and that Plaintiff was actually billed at an hourly
rate of $300 for this action. (Doc. 39 at 6, 8). Defendants
have not participated in the litigation of this action and
have not filed any pleading disputing the amount requested by
has not provided any documentation to this Court that the
prevailing market rate in Mobile, Alabama is $300 per hour
for services similar to those rendered by Ladenheim. Further,
a review of those rates that this Court has routinely found
to be reasonable are less than the requested hourly rate of
Ladenheim. See Vision Bank v. Anderson, 2011 WL
2142786, at *3 (S.D. Ala. May 31, 2011) ($250/hour rate was
reasonable for a partner with 15 years experience);
Vision Bank v. FP Mgmt., LLC, 2012 WL 222951, at *3
(S.D. Ala. Jan. 25, 2012) (same); Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
v. Williamson, 2011 WL 382799, at *4 (S.D. Ala. Feb. 3,
2011) (same); Lifeline Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Hemophilia
Infusion Managers, LLC, 2012 WL 2600181 at *3 (S.D. Ala.
July 5, 2012)(“Recent awards [in this District] almost
without exception have utilized hourly rates of $220 to $275
for partners.”). Further, while Defendant's lack of
participation in this action may have resulted in additional
filings by Plaintiff, Plaintiff acknowledges that this action
did not involve novel or overly complex points of law. (Doc.
28 at 5).
upon consideration of the relevant Johnson factors
and the submissions of counsel and based on this Court's
own knowledge and experience, the Court finds that $275 is a
reasonable hourly rate for Ladenheim.