Lee v. District of Columbia

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA _________________________________________ ) JUANISHIA LEE, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) Case No. 15-cv-01802 (APM) ) DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ) ) Defendant. ) _________________________________________ ) MEMORANDUM OPINION I. This matter is before the court on Plaintiff Juanishia Lee’s Second Motion for Attorneys’ Fees under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). This court previously granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff’s initial motion for attorneys’ fees and awarded Plaintiff $77,616.50 in attorneys’ fees and costs for her counsel’s successful representation of her minor child, J.K., during administrative proceedings and in the instant litigation. See generally Lee v. District of Columbia, No. 15-cv-1802, 2018 WL 400754 (D.D.C. Jan. 12, 2018). In her Second Motion, Plaintiff seeks an award of “fees-on-fees,” i.e., the attorneys’ fees she incurred in litigating her initial fees petition. Plaintiff contends that she is entitled to $19,884.83 in fees-on-fees. In particular, Plaintiff seeks reimbursement at 75% of the USAO Matrix hourly rate, which this court applied in calculating her fees award associated with the underlying merits litigation. Defendant District of Columbia does not contest the number of hours spent by Plaintiff’s counsel, but does oppose Plaintiff’s proposed hourly rates. Defendant asserts that the court should only award Plaintiff fees at 50% of the USAO Matrix rates applicable to her counsel at the time the services were performed. Thus, according to Defendant, Plaintiff is entitled to no more than $8,790.70 in fees-on-fees. 1 After considering the parties’ submissions and the relevant law, the court grants in part and denies in part Plaintiff’s Second Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, and awards Plaintiff $19,361.63 in fees-on-fees. II. Under the IDEA, a “court, in its discretion, may award reasonable attorneys’ fees as part of the costs . . . to a prevailing party who is the parent of a child with a disability.” 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B)(i)(I). As relevant here, the IDEA also allows “[p]arties who prevail at the administrative level [to] recover fees-on-fees . . . for time reasonably devoted to obtaining attorney’s fees.” McNeil v. District of Columbia, 233 F. Supp. 3d 150, 153 (D.D.C. 2017) (alterations in original) (emphasis added) (quoting Kaseman v. District of Columbia, 444 F.3d 637, 640 (D.C. Cir. 2006)); see also Jones v. District of Columbia, 153 F. Supp. 3d 114, 118 (D.D.C. 2015) (“The availability of reasonable attorneys’ fees applies to fees incurred in IDEA litigation both before administrative agencies and in federal court, as well as to fees incurred to vindicate a plaintiff’s right to fees.”). In its previous decision granting in part Plaintiff’s initial motion for attorneys’ fees and costs, this court outlined the relevant legal standards governing motions for attorneys’ fees brought 1 Defendant’s opposition leaves to the imagination how it arrived at this calculation. See generally Def.’s Opp’n to Pl.’s Mot. for Attorney’s Fees & Costs, ECF No. 30 [hereinafter Def.’s Opp’n]. Applying “50% of the USAO Matrix rate[s] applicable . . . [at] the time the services were performed,” as ...

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