United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
F. Skinner, III, Esq.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. Johnstone United States Magistrate Judge
Adams brought suit under the Fair Debt Collect Practices Act
(“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.
against Oakridge Direct Solutions Corporation
(“Oakridge”) alleging claims arising out of
communications that Oakridge made to her in an attempt to
collect a debt. On August 22, 2017, the Clerk of Court
entered default against Oakridge. See doc. no. 9.
Adams moved for default judgment and, on April 3, 2018, the
court issued a Report and Recommendation on Adams's
motion. The court recommended that the district judge award
Adams statutory damages of $1, 000 but held in abeyance its
recommendation on Adams's request for attorneys' fees
and costs “until counsel submits ‘contemporaneous
time and billing records, suitably detailed, and
information [concerning] the law firm's standard billing
rates.'” Doc. no. 12 at 10 (quoting Hutchinson
ex rel. Julien v. Patrick, 636 F.3d 1, 13 (1st Cir.
2011)). On May 1, 2018, the district judge approved the
Report and Recommendation. See doc. no. 13.
3, 2018, Adams filed her supplemental request for
attorneys' fees. See doc. no. 14. For the
reasons that follow, the court recommends that the district
judge award Adams attorneys' fees of $4, 367.50 and costs
in the amount of $470.
the district judge approved the court's April 3, 2018
Report and Recommendation as to Adams's claim, Adams
became a prevailing party under the FDCPA. See Hunter v.
Oasis Financial Solutions, LLC, No. 10CV724 L(WVG), 2011
WL 1559256 at *1 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 25, 2011) (“[T]he
Court entered default judgment against Oasis and therefore,
plaintiff is the prevailing party for purposes of the
assessment of attorney's fees under the FDCPA.”).
Under the FDCPA, a prevailing party is entitled to “the
costs of the action, together with reasonable attorneys'
fees as determined by the court.” French v. Corp.
Receivables, Inc., 489 F.3d 402, 403 (1st Cir. 2007)
(internal quotations and ellipsis omitted) (quoting 15 U.S.C.
award of reasonable attorneys' fees is typically
calculated by the lodestar method in which the court
multiplies the hours productively spent by a reasonable
hourly rate. Spooner v. EEN, Inc., 644 F.3d 62,
67-68 (1st Cir. 2011). “‘Reasonable hourly rates
will vary depending on the nature of the work, the locality
in which it is performed, the qualifications of the lawyers,
and other criteria.'” Hutchinson, 636 F.3d
at 16 (quoting United States v. One Star Class Sloop
Sailboat, 546 F.3d 26, 38 (1st Cir. 2008)). The
determination of what constitutes a “reasonable”
fee is left to the court's discretion. de Jesus v.
Banco Popular de P.R., 918 F.2d 232, 233-34 (1st Cir.
party seeking a fee award bears the burden of producing
materials to support the request. Hutchinson, 636
F.3d at 13. “Appropriate supporting documentation
includes counsel's contemporaneous time and billing
records and information establishing the usual and customary
rates in the marketplace for comparably credentialed
counsel.” Spooner, 644 F.3d at 68; see
also Bogan v. City of Boston, 489 F.3d 417 (1st Cir.
motion for default judgment, Adams sought an award of $3,
962.50 in attorneys' fees and $470 in costs. Her counsel
submitted a sworn affidavit in support of that request.
See doc. no. 11-1. The court determined that the
affidavit failed to explain why the billable rate for
Adams's lead counsel, who had previously submitted
requests for and to whom the court had awarded attorneys'
fees, had increased by $30 per hour over the rate approved in
previous cases. See doc. no. 12 at 9-10. The court
also found the affidavit lacking in that it did not identify
which of the 14.5 total hours billed were attributable to
attorney work versus work done by law firm staff. The court
therefore held in abeyance its recommendation as to
Adams's request for attorneys' fees and costs and
directed Adams to supplement her request.
supplement, Adams seeks $4, 637.50 in attorneys' fees and
$470 in costs, the increase accounting for the additional
time spent on preparing the supplement. See doc. no.
14 at 3. Adams included as an exhibit to her supplement an
invoice that provides a list of billing entries. See
doc. no. 14-1. This list details how her counsel arrived at
the 21.5 billable hours devoted to the case. This document
sufficiently identifies the hours spent on attorney work
versus the work done by law firm staff.
supplement, however, fails to provide information or
documentation explaining why her lead attorney's billable
rate has increased by $30 per hour. For example, Adams does
not provide proof in the form of invoices from other cases
showing the actual billing rate for comparable work; fees her
attorney could have obtained by taking other cases in lieu of
the current case; or an affidavit from another attorney who
handles similar matters in a similar location or studies
showing that the $30 increase per hour is reasonable in the
current legal market. See Edge v. Norfolk Fin.
Corp., No. Civ.A. 04-12134-DPW, 2005 WL 2323193, at *9
(D. Mass. Aug. 29, 2005); Silva v. Nat'l Telewire
Corp., No. 99-219-JD, 2001 WL 1609387, at *7-8 (D.N.H.
Dec. 12, 2001). Lacking any such evidence, the court finds
Adams's counsel's arguments for his fee increase
past, this court has awarded Adams's lead counsel fees at
the rate of $295 per hour for his work. See,
e.g., Mailhot v. Direct Recovery Servs.,
LLC, No. 16-cv-43-JL, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106046, at
*14-15 (D.N.H. May 10, 2017); Forcier v. Creditors
Specialty Serv., Inc., No. 13-cv-444-LM, 2014 WL
6473043, at *14 (D.N.H. Nov. 17, 2014). The court recommends
that the $295 rate also apply in this case. Applying that
rate to the invoice included with Adams's supplement
results in an award of attorneys' fees of $4, 367.50 and
costs in the amount of $470.
foregoing reasons, the court recommends that the district
judge award plaintiff attorneys' fees and ...