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Norton v. High

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

August 8, 2019

CALVIN TYRONE NORTON, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN NICHOLAS HIGH, in his personal capacity and his official capacity as a Deputy Sheriff of Columbus County, North Carolina; LEWIS L. HATCHER, in his personal capacity and his official capacity as Sheriff of Columbus County, North Carolina; WESTERN SURETY CO. d/b/a/ CNA SURETY INSURANCE as the SURETY for the Columbus County Sheriff; TRACEY WARD also name “John Doe” in his personal capacity and his official capacity as Lieutenant of Columbus County Detention Center of the Sheriff; and RENE TREVINO, in his personal capacity and his official capacity as Deputy Sheriff of Columbus County, North Carolina, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on defendants' request for expenses, including attorney's fees, to be awarded defendants in connection with their October 16, 2018, motion for sanctions. The court allowed said motion on May 9, 2019, along with the expenses incurred, due to plaintiff's failure to attend an October 1, 2018, scheduled deposition. Pursuant to the court's May 9, 2019, order granting defendants' motion for sanctions, defendants have submitted their attorney's affidavit attesting to expenses, including attorney's fees, travel expenses, court reporter costs, and transcription fees. In response plaintiff filed motion to disallow costs. (DE 79). The issues raised are ripe for ruling. For the reasons set forth below, the court denies plaintiff's motion and directs payment to defendants as set forth herein.

         BACKGROUND

         The court incorporates by reference the background of this case set forth in its May 9, 2019, order, where the court allowed defendants' motion for sanctions which requested, at a minimum, reimbursement for fees and expenses incurred as a result of plaintiff's refusal to appear for his scheduled deposition on October 1, 2018. (DE 75 at 23). As directed, defendants filed declaration of costs and reasonable attorney's fees. In response, plaintiff filed motion to disallow costs wherein plaintiff resurrects previously-made argument that because plaintiff was required to attend hearing in state court on the day in question, plaintiff could not attend his duly-noticed deposition. (See DE 79). For the reasons previously stated in May 9, 2019 order, the court rejects this argument and proceeds to determine the reasonableness of the amount sought by defendants.

         COURT'S DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         “In calculating an award of attorney's fees, a court must first determine a lodestar figure by multiplying the number of reasonable hours expended times a reasonable rate.” Robinson v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 560 F.3d 235, 243-44 (4th Cir. 2009). In deciding what constitutes a “reasonable” number of hours and rate, “a district court's discretion should be guided by the following twelve factors”:

1) Time and labor expended;
2) Novelty and difficulty of the questions raised;
3) Skill required to properly perform the legal services rendered;
4) Attorney's opportunity costs in pressing the instant litigation;
5) Customary fee for like work;
6) Attorney's expectations at the outset of the ...

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