United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
OPINION AND ORDER ATTORNEYS' FEES AND
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' motion for
attorneys' fees and costs. ECF No. 46. For the reasons
set forth below, the motion is granted in part and Plaintiffs
are awarded costs of $400 and attorneys' fees of $7, 400.
were awarded damages against Defendant Momentum Motor Group,
LLC (“Momentum”) following Momentum's
default, the court's resolution of Plaintiffs'
unopposed motion for summary judgment on damages, and
Plaintiff Callrina Reid's (“Reid's”)
election of remedies. See ECF No. 20 (Default); ECF
No. 45 (Order on Summary Judgment (Damages)); ECF No. 47
(Election of Remedies); ECF No. 48 (Judgment). Plaintiff
Carolyn Green (“Green”) was awarded damages in
the amount of $4, 000, and Reid was awarded damages in the
amount of $8, 530, for a total damages award of $12, 530. ECF
Nos. 45, 47, 48.
their present motion, Plaintiffs seek an award of
attorneys' fees in the amount of $9, 805 and costs in the
amount of $400. The motion is supported by affidavits of
Plaintiffs' counsel (including summaries of the work done
and affirmation of counsel's regular rates), the
contingency fee agreement between Plaintiffs and their
counsel, and a recent survey reflecting median rates charged
by attorneys for work in the relevant geographic and subject
addressing a petition for attorneys' fees, a “court
must first determine the lodestar figure by multiplying the
number of reasonable hours expended times a reasonable
rate.” Robinson v. Equifax Information Svcs.,
LLC, 560 F.3d 235, 243 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing
Grissom v. The Mills Corp., 549 F.3d 313
(4th Cir. 2008)). The reasonable hours and rate are, in turn,
determined by applying the twelve factors set out in
Barber v. Kimbrell's Inc., 577 F.2d 216, 226 n.
28 (4th Cir. 1978). Robinson, 560 F.3d at 245
(reaffirming use of the Barber factors).
(1) the time and labor required to litigate the suit; (2) the
novelty and difficulty of the questions presented by the
lawsuit; (3) the skill required to properly perform the legal
service; (4) the preclusion of other employment opportunities
for the attorney due to the attorney's acceptance of the
case; (5) the customary fee for such services; (6) whether
the fee is fixed or contingent; (7) time limitations imposed
by the client or circumstances; (8) the amount in controversy
and the results obtained; (9) the experience, reputation and
ability of the attorney; (10) the
“undesirability” of the case; (11) the nature and
length of the attorney's professional relationship with
the client; and (12) fee awards in similar cases.
Trimper v. City of Norfolk Va., 58 F.3d 68, 73 (4th
petition must provide adequate support for the rates claimed.
See Grissom, 549 F.3d at 323 (reversing fee award,
in part because “Plaintiff offered no specific evidence
that the hourly rates sought for his attorneys coincided with
the then prevailing market rates of attorneys in the Eastern
District of Virginia of similar skill and for similar work,
which our case law required him to do.”). While a
survey reflecting rate ranges for the relevant practice and
geographic area may be relevant to determining the
reasonableness of rates sought, more may be required to link
the rates sought to the reputation and skills of the attorney
whose work is at issue. Id. (“Examples of the
type of specific evidence that we have held is sufficient to
verify the prevailing market rates are affidavits of other
local lawyers who are familiar both with the skills of the
fee applicants and more generally with the type of work in
the relevant community.”).
The only cost sought is for the filing fee. The court finds
this cost proper and, therefore, awards costs of $400.
Fees. Plaintiffs seek fees for work performed by two
attorneys: Penny Hays Cauley; and William Geddings. As to
Cauley, they seek compensation for 11.45 hours at a rate of
$400 per hour ($4, 580 total). As to Geddings, they seek
compensation for 19 hours at a rate of $275 per hour ($5, 225
The only third-party support offered for the rates sought is
a third-party survey. See ECF No. 46-3 (excerpt from
Ronald J. Burge,, United States Consumer Law Attorney Fees
Survey Report 2015-2016, at 134-35 (“Burge
Survey”)). The Burge Survey reflects median rates for
attorneys handling consumer credit cases in South Carolina
ranging from $275 to $375 with a median rate of $325.
rate sought for Geddings falls at the low end of the rates
reflected on the Burge Survey. The rate sought for Cauley
somewhat exceeds the highest median rate listed. No
third-party affidavit is offered to address Cauley's
specific skill level. The absence of such an affidavit is
somewhat problematic given the high rate sought. Nonetheless,
in the absence of any opposition and ...