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Wiwel v. IBM Medical And Dental Benefit Plans For Regular Full-Time And Part-Time Employees

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

July 11, 2017

TIMOTHY WIWEL, SHARON WIWEL, and E.W., a minor by and through her parents Timothy and Sharon Wiwel, Plaintiffs,
v.
IBM MEDICAL AND DENTAL BENEFIT PLANS FOR REGULAR FULL-TIME AND PART-TIME EMPLOYEES, Defendant.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN United States District Judge

         Having awarded attorney's fees in plaintiffs' favor without deciding amount due, with benefit now of the parties' briefing germane to that issue, issues raised are ripe for ruling.

         BACKGROUND

         The court here incorporates by reference “Background” in order granting partial summary judgment dated March 29, 2017. (DE 91). In response to the court's order, plaintiffs filed a brief seeking attorney's fees in the amount of $102, 261.80, for 314.8 hours worked by counsel and paralegals at rates between $135/hr and $425/hr and costs in the amount of $1946.00. Plaintiffs' counsel submitted declarations describing their own credentials and involvement in this case as well as declarations from other attorneys pertaining to market prices for similar legal services in various markets. (DE 92). Defendant filed a brief in opposition to plaintiffs' request seeking to reduce plaintiffs' attorney's fees award to $6, 355.84 and award of costs to $1, 557.59.

         DISCUSSION

         To determine the proper amount of attorney's fees in litigation involving the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. (“ERISA”), “[f]irst, the court must ‘determine the loadstar figure by multiplying the number of reasonable hours expended times a reasonable rate.'” McAfee v. Boczar, 738 F.3d 81, 88 (4th Cir. 2013). To calculate the lodestar rate, courts in the Fourth Circuit must consider the twelve Johnson factors. Trimper v. City of Norfolk, 58 F.3d 68, 73-74 (4th Cir. 1995). The factors are:

(1) The time and labor required to litigate the action;
(2) The novelty and difficulty of the questions presented by the action;
(3) The skill required to properly perform the legal service;
(4) The preclusion of other employment opportunities for counsel;
(5) The customary fee for such services;
(6) Whether the fee is fixed or contingent;
(7) Time limitations imposed by the client or the ...

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