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Doe v. Kidd

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

February 16, 2018

Sue Doe, Plaintiff,
v.
Linda Kidd, Stan Butkus, Kathi Lacy, South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Robert Kerr, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          Margaret B. Seymour Senior Judge

         This lengthy litigation involves the reasonable promptness mandate of the Medicaid Act and parallel state administrative proceedings before the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. By opinion filed March 24, 2011, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit determined that Plaintiff was entitled to summary judgment in her favor, that the court should devise appropriate remedial relief, and that, as prevailing party, Plaintiff was entitled to attorneys' fees. Doe v. Kidd, 419 F. App'x 411 (4th Cir. 2011). The Fourth Circuit issued its mandate on May 9, 2011.

         On February 3, 2012, the court was advised that the parties were discussing resolution of the outstanding issues. On August 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for interim attorneys' fees as well as a motion for partial interim award of costs. ECF Nos. 181, 182. On February 5, 2013, the court directed Plaintiff to file a motion for remedial relief within fifteen days or otherwise inform the court that the matter had been resolved. The court denied Plaintiff's motions for attorneys' fees and costs without prejudice pending the resolution of any claim by Plaintiff for equitable relief.

         After numerous filings by the parties, the court issued an order on August 12, 2013, amended on August 21, 2013, granting remedial relief and directing Plaintiff to file her motion for attorneys' fees and costs within fifteen days of the date of the order. Plaintiff filed a motion for attorneys' fees and costs on August 28, 2013, which she amended on October 29, 2013. ECF Nos. 236, 266. Plaintiff moved for attorneys' fees and costs through May 31, 2013, in the amount of $871, 469.00 for fees in federal court; $997, 489.00 for fees in the state court administrative proceedings, and $19, 742.54 in costs and other litigation expenses. Also on August 28, 2013, Plaintiff filed a motion for payment of guardian ad litem fees in the amount of $59, 018.75, of which $39, 173.75 pertained to the within litigation, and $19, 845.00 to the state administrative proceedings.

         On March 31, 2014, the court issued an order in which it found the state court proceedings were not necessary to advance the litigation in this court, i.e., whether Defendants provided placement for Plaintiff at a qualified facility with reasonable promptness. The court found lead counsel's and lead counsel's paralegal's hours to be excessive and the hourly rates requested to be not customary in the Columbia, South Carolina, market. The court calculated a lodestar figure of $458, 985.05 for fees in federal court, and reduced the loadstar figure based on Plaintiff's unsuccessful claims to $265, 675.05. The court further reduced Plaintiff's attorneys' fee award to $100, 000.00 based upon (1) the fact there had been no change in the status quo for Plaintiff, and (2) lead counsel's objective in the litigation had been to obtain a remedy the court was unable to provide. The court further allowed costs of $5, 523.13. ECF No. 276.

         Also on March 31, 2014, the court issued an order granting guardian ad litem fees in the amount of $3, 750.00, based on the court's determination that the guardian ad litem performed legal work; provided services that were duplicative of those provided by Plaintiff's father, who assumed the position of legal guardian by December 2004; and, like lead counsel, argued in favor of a remedy the court could not supply. ECF No. 277.

         Plaintiff and Defendants filed cross-appeals of the court's orders. On August 9, 2016, the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion vacating the court's attorneys' fee award and directing the court to enter an award of $669, 077.20, exclusive of costs. The Fourth Circuit further vacated the court's guardian ad litem fee award and directed the court to enter an award of $39, 173.75. The Fourth Circuit also determined that Plaintiff's parallel state administrative litigation “‘was both useful and of a type ordinarily necessary to advance the civil rights litigation to the stage it reached.'” Doe v. Kidd, 656 F. App'x 643, 660 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting Webb v. Dyer Cty. Bd. of Educ., 471 U.S. 234, 243 (1985)). The Fourth Circuit remanded the cause to this court “for appropriate consideration of Doe's request for fees in the state administrative proceedings.” Id.

         The court issued an amended judgment on February 1, 2017, in compliance with the Fourth Circuit's order concerning attorneys' fees and costs and guardian ad litem fees in the federal litigation. ECF No. 313. This matter now is before the court on the following motions:

1. Plaintiff's motion for guardian ad litem fees, which motion was filed on April 7, 2017, and amended on April 18, 2017. Defendants filed a response in opposition on May 26, 2017, to which Plaintiff filed a reply on June 30, 2017. Defendants filed a surreply on July 18, 2017, to which Plaintiff filed a response on August 9, 2017.
2. Plaintiff's motion for attorneys's fees, which motion was filed on April 7, 2017, and amended on April 20, 2017. Defendants filed a response in opposition on May 26, 2017, to which Plaintiff filed a reply on June 30, 2017. Defendants filed a surreply on July 18, 2017, to which Plaintiff filed a response on August 9, 2017.
3. Defendants' motion to dismiss, which motion was filed on May 26, 2017. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendants' motion on June 9, 2017, to which Defendants filed a reply on June 16, 2017.

         Also pending before the court are Defendants' motion to refer the matter to a Magistrate Judge, filed May 26, 2017; and Plaintiff's motion for a hearing, which motion was filed August 17, 2017.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Moti ...


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