United States District Court, D. Nebraska
JANNETTE TAYLOR, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated; Plaintiff,
MERCHANTS CREDIT ADJUSTORS, INC., and PANSING, HOGAN, ERNST & BACHMAN, L.L.P., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. BATAILLON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on plaintiff's unopposed
motion for attorneys' fees and costs and approval of an
incentive award, Filing No. 73. Plaintiff entered into a
settlement agreement with defendants. Filing No. 67-1. As
part of the settlement, defendants agreed to pay
plaintiff's costs, attorneys' fees, an incentive
award and damages pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §
1692k(a)(3). Plaintiff requests costs and
attorneys' fees in the amount of $57, 000. Defendants
have agreed to that amount. Filing No. 67-1, p.8 ¶ 4.5.
The settlement amount includes a discount of $19, 681.10 from
the lode star, and a damages and incentive award of $2,
000.00 and $4, 000.00 respectively.
filed this action alleging violations of the Fair Debt
Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 and
the Nebraska Consumer Protection Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. §
59-1601, et seq. Filing No. 1. The FDCPA mandates
the payment of attorneys' fees and costs to a successful
consumer. Carroll v. Wolpoff & Abramson, 53 F.3d
626, 628 (4th Cir. 1995) (“the fee award under §
1692k is mandatory in all but the most unusual
court finds the plaintiff is entitled to an award for the
damages incurred and an incentive award for serving as class
representative in the amount requested. See In
re Mego Fin. Corp. Sec. Litig., 213 F.3d 454, 463 (9th
Cir. 2000) (class settlement).
determining the attorney fees, the Court must apply the
twelve factors identified in Johnson v. Georgia Highway
Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714 (5th Cir. 1974); Zoll v.
E. Allamakee Cmty. Sch. Dist., 588 F.2d 246, 252 (8th
Cir. 1978) and Allen v. Amalgamated Transit Union, Local
788, 554 F.2d 876, 884 (8th Cir. 1977). The Johnson
factors include: 1) the time and labor required; (2) the
novelty and difficulty of the questions; (3) the skill
requisite to perform the legal services properly; (4) the
preclusion of other employment by the attorney due to
acceptance of the case; (5) the customary fee in the
community; (6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent; (7)
time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances;
(8) the amount of time involved and the results obtained; (9)
the experience, reputation, and ability of the attorneys;
(10) the “undesirability” of the case; (11) the
nature and length of the professional relationship with the
client; and (12) awards in similar cases.
court has carefully reviewed the request for fees and costs.
The court finds the hourly rates of $275.00 for attorney
Tregg Lunn, $325.00 for William L. Reinbrecht and $350.00 for
Pamela Car are reasonable for each lawyer as are the hours
expended in this case. See Exs. 1, 1A, 2 and 2A. The
court finds that counsel are experienced in consumer
litigation cases. Counsel received the maximum statutory
damages in this case pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §
1692k(a)(2)(B) and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 59-1601, et
seq. There are not many attorneys who do this work in
Nebraska, and counsel have become experts in this area. The
court agrees that there are in fact opportunity costs when
taking on these cases.
court also finds the billing rates mentioned herein are
reasonable, and similar rates have been previously awarded by
this court. Smith v. Gurstel Chargo, P.A.,
8:14-CV-183 (D. Neb. Mar. 31, 2015); Henggeler v.
Brumbaugh & Quandahl, P.C., LLO, 2014 WL 793544
(D.Neb. Feb. 26, 2014); Birge v. Brumbaugh &
Quandahl, P.C., LLO, 2014 WL 688966 (D. Neb.
Feb. 26, 2014); Erickson v. Credit Bureau Servs.,
Inc., 2013 WL 672281 (D. Neb. Feb. 22, 2013). The fee
award in Powers v. Credit Mgmt. Serves., Inc.
(8:11-CV-436) (D. Neb. Nov. 29, 2016), Filing No. 227, was
approximately the same rate for Ms. Car and Mr. Reinbrecht as
the court realizes it is difficult to charge the client an
hourly fee, as it might be greater than the recovery. Again,
the plaintiff and the class recovered the maximum amount of
statutory damages available to them in this case. The
experience, reputation and ability of the attorneys in this
case are indicative of the result in this case. For these
reasons, the court finds the plaintiff's motion should be
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. Plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees, Filing No.
73, is granted; and
2. Plaintiff is awarded her statutory damages of $2, 000.00;
an incentive award of $4, 000.00 for her work, and $57, 000
as costs and attorneys' fees
 Defendants stated, “Defendants
agree not to oppose Class counsel's costs, expenses, and
attorneys' fees request in an amount not to exceed $57,
000.00, such to Court approval, which Defendant Pansing will
pay as set forth in Paragraph ...