Requested Fees for Dascola Lawsuit: $37,300

The motion for fees filed by Bob Dascola’s attorney in his successful election lawsuit against the city of Ann Arbor has now been filed with the federal court. The ruling of the federal court, made on May 20, 2014, was that the city charter eligibility requirements were not constitutional enforceable, which put Dascola on the Ward 3 city council Democratic primary ballot for Aug. 5, 2014.

In the June 6, 2014 filing, attorney Tom Wieder has asked that the court award him fees for 93.25 hours of work at $400 per hour for a total of $37,300. Another $425.50 in costs for filings and document retrieval from the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system brings the total amount the city would owe to $37,725.50.

The 93.25 hours of work is itemized in 57 specific increments in spans of time ranging from 15 minutes to 9.75 hours. The number of hours is argued in the supporting brief to be reasonable based on the complexity of the case and the fact that Wieder was Dascola’s sole counsel.

The argument for the hourly rate is based on various standards cited in the accompanying brief, which include the quality of the results obtained for the client, and the reasonableness of the rate based on Wieder’s experience, skill, and reputation. [.pdf of motion for fees and accompanying brief]

One Comment

  1. By Mark Koroi
    June 8, 2014 at 12:37 am | permalink

    A couple of points on the claim for attorney fees under 42 USC 1988:

    (1)I believe that the $400.00 per hour rate is reasonable given the results achieved and Tom Wieder’s experience and standing in the legal community;

    (2)recall that in the Neal versus Michigan Department of Corrections case, the Washtenaw County Circuit Court awarded the prevailing plaintiffs a rate equivalent to approximately $900.00 per hour ($28 million for 31,000 hours of work) – so Mr. Wieder’s submitted hourly rate herein appear bargain-basement by that comparison;

    (3) Mr. Dascola will be the beneficiary of the attorney-fees-on-attorney-fees theory recognized with respect to statutory fee awards that allows recovery for legal fees incurred in actually litigating the very issue of the attorney fee award;

    (4)in the event that City Attorney Postema does contest the reasonableness of the hours or the hourly rate being claimed, Judge Zatkoff will likely order an evidentiary hearing in which both sides can present proofs on these issues so that a final liquidated award of attorney fees and costs may be entered against the City of Ann Arbor – as a practical matter very few of these evidentiary hearings occur in the practice of law due to the attorney-fees-on-attorney-fees theory enunciated above, and also the fact plaintiffs want to avoid the risk the judge may give a low cost and fee award;

    (5)Mr. Dascola filed his action under the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1871(42 USC 1983), which was a post-Civil War Act of Congress that was primarily intended to give freed slaves a legal mechanism to enforce denials of their constitutional rights via monetary damage and injunctive relief within the United States District Court system.