United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KEITH WATKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Plaintiffs' motion for an award of
attorney's fees and costs. (Doc. # 166.) For the reasons
below, the court will award $362, 200.41 in attorney's
fees and $6, 075.98 in costs.
case involved a number of constitutional challenges to the
Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification
Act (ASORCNA). It started in August 2015 as a putative class
action with eight plaintiffs (Does 1-8). (Doc. # 1.) The
court denied a motion for a preliminary injunction (Docs. #
17, 32) and granted permission to amend the complaint (Doc. #
38). The November 2015 First Amended Complaint added Doe 9 as
a Plaintiff and dropped the claims by Does 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8.
(Doc. # 39.) Plaintiffs withdrew their motion for class
certification. (Doc. # 40.)
moved to dismiss the First Amended Complaint for failure to
state a claim (Doc. # 43), and in March 2016, the court
granted that motion in part (Doc. # 51). In August 2016,
Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint and added Doe 10
as a Plaintiff. (Doc. # 81.) Defendants moved to dismiss the
Second Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. (Doc.
# 87.) While that motion was pending, ASORCNA was
substantially amended, see Ala. Act No. 2017-414,
and Plaintiffs sought leave to file a Third Amended
Complaint. (Doc. # 119.) In March 2018, the court partially
granted the motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint.
(Doc. # 125.) At the same time, it denied the motion for
leave to file the Third Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 125.)
Plaintiffs later sought leave to “supplement” the
claims in their Second Amended Complaint and to add more
Plaintiffs. (Docs. # 132, 134.) That motion was largely
denied. (Doc. # 137.)
raised a number of unsuccessful claims in their various
complaints. The court dismissed substantive due process
challenges to the 2, 000-foot residency exclusion zone (Doc.
# 51, at 39; see Doc. # 1, at 37; Doc. # 39, at 32)
and the 2, 000-foot employment exclusion zone (Doc. # 51, at
43; see Doc. # 1, at 38; Doc. # 39, at 33). It
dismissed claims by Does 1 and 9 that the minor-cohabitation
rule violates their right to family association. (Doc. # 51,
at 40; see Doc. # 1, at 37; Doc. # 39, at 32.) It
dismissed vagueness challenges to reporting requirements
(Doc. # 125, at 29-33; see Doc. # 81, at 48) and to
the 2, 000-foot residency exclusion zone (Doc. # 125, at 28;
see Doc. # 81, at 48). It dismissed a claim that
ASORCNA violates the “irrebuttable presumption”
doctrine. (Doc. # 125, at 24; see Doc. # 81, at 45.)
It dismissed individual-capacity claims. (Doc. # 125, at 50;
see Doc. # 81, at 51.) And it denied leave to add
“stigma plus” claims. (Doc. # 137, at 10-12;
see Doc. # 134-1, at 25, 32.)
when the parties moved for summary judgment in the summer of
2018 (Docs. # 139, 147, 154), there were only four remaining
claims (see Doc. # 138). Count One was a substantive
due process claim by Does 3 and 7 against the
minor-cohabitation rule. Count Two was a void-for-vagueness
challenge to the residency and employment exclusion zones.
Count Four was an as-applied compelled speech challenge to
the branded-identification requirement. And Count Five was a
First Amendment overbreadth challenge to the internet-use
February 2019, the court granted summary judgment for
Defendants on Counts One and Two. At the same time, it
granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs on Counts Four and
The branded-identification requirement in Alabama Code §
15-20A-18 is unconstitutional under the First Amendment of
the United States Constitution to the extent that it has been
applied by the State of Alabama; and
The internet-use reporting requirements in Alabama Code
§§ 15-20A-7(a)(9), 15-20A-7(a)(18), and
15-20A-10(e)(1) are facially overbroad in violation of the
First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
(Doc. # 165, at 1-2.) See generally Doe 1 v.
Marshall, 367 F.Supp.3d 1310 (M.D. Ala. 2019). No. party
filed a timely appeal.
now move for an award of attorney's fees and costs under
42 U.S.C. § 1988. (Doc. # 166.) Throughout this case,
Plaintiffs have been represented by one attorney: Joseph
McGuire. Mr. McGuire claims an hourly rate of $295 or $425,
and he seeks compensation for 1, 515.8 hours. Thus, Mr.
McGuire seeks a fee of either $447, 161 or $644, 215. (Doc. #
175, at 33; Doc. # 179, at 4, 7.) In addition, Plaintiffs
claim $17, 041.02 on their Bill of Costs. (Doc. # 176.)
Defendants respond that Mr. McGuire's hourly rate should
be $225, that 339.9 of his hours are not compensable, and
that the court should reduce the fee award by at least
two-thirds. They also argue that only $2, 077.80 in costs are
taxable. (Doc. # 178, at 4, 8, 14-15.)
most of their claims were dismissed, Plaintiffs prevailed on
their First Amendment challenges to ASORCNA's
internet-use reporting requirements and its
branded-identification requirement. See Farrar v.
Hobby, 506 U.S. 103, 109 (1992) (defining
“prevailing party”). The court will therefore
award Plaintiffs “a reasonable attorney's
fee” and “costs.” 42 U.S.C. § 1988;
Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d). The question is what constitutes a
“reasonable” fee and what “costs” can
Reasonable Attorney's Fee
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 (1983). Once
this “lodestar” amount is calculated, other
considerations may lead the court to lower the fee award.
See Id. at 434.