United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
April 14, 2004.
TARA B. O'SHEA, Plaintiff,
WALT DISNEY WORLD CO., a Florida Corporation, d/b/a WALT DISNEY WORLD and DISNEY'S OLD KEY WEST RESORT, DISNEY REALTY, INC., a Florida Corporation, and WALT DISNEY PARKS AND RESORTS, LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company, DISNEY VACATION CLUB MANAGEMENT CORP., a Florida Corporation, and DISNEY VACATION DEVELOPMENT, INC., a Florida Corporation, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN ASPEN, Chief Judge, District
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
In our order of November 5, 2003, we remanded the present action and
ordered that Plaintiff's attorney, Patrick J. O'Shea, pay the defendants'
reasonable costs and expenses associated with the removal and subsequent
remand of the case. Defendants filed an affidavit which lists their costs
associated with the removal and remand, and Mr. O'Shea has filed his
objections. For the reasons set forth below, we award fees and costs in
the amount of $1,724.88.
Defendants submitted a request for $2, 242.38 in fees and costs. One of
their attorneys, Julie K. Zeglis, filed an affidavit in which she
described the work that she and another attorney, Mark Blocker, performed
on the case. Zeglis is a junior-level associate with the firm Sidley,
Austin, Brown & Wood who bills at an hourly rate of $175 per hour.
She states that she spent 9.50 hours working on the removal and remand. Blocker is a partner who bills
at an hourly rate of $385.00. He spent 0.25 hours working on the case. In
the fee affidavit, Zeglis also requests: 1) $50 for the time of Sidley's
docket personnel; 2) $203.63 for the cost of computerized legal research;
3) a $150 filing and appearance fee incurred in removing the action to
federal court; and 4) an $80 service fee paid to an outside service for
filing the defendants' notice of removal in the Circuit Court of DuPage
Plaintiff's attorney makes several objections to these charges.*fn1
First, he argues that the defendants' attorneys spent an unreasonable
amount of time preparing the notice of removal and response to the motion
to remand. Zeglis avers that she spent 4.0 hours preparing and filing the
notice of removal, which is a four-page document, and 4.5 hours preparing
the response to the remand motion, which is also a four-page document. We
find that it is reasonable for an attorney to spend four to five hours
researching and drafting a four-page document, and therefore reject
O'Shea's request to reduce the number of hours billed for those tasks.
We do agree with O'Shea's argument that he should not have to pay for
time spent preparing and filing a motion for an extension of time in
which to respond to the plaintiff's complaint. We therefore deduct 0.25
hours for the amount of time charged by Zeglis for that motion, as well
as the $25 charge billed by Sidley's docketing personnel for filing the
We also agree with O'Shea's argument that Zeglis should not have billed
at an attorney's hourly rate for time spent filing.*fn2 Filing documents with a court is
the type of activity that can be done by a paralegal and therefore should
be billed at a paralegal's rate. Zeglis billed 0.5 hours for filing on
August 18, 2003 and 0.25 hours for filing on September l5, 2003. On
August l5, 2003, Zeglis billed 4.0 hours for "[d]rafting and filing
notice of removal." She did not break down how much of that time was
spent for filing and how much was spent for drafting. We thus estimate
that she spent 0.5 hours filing that day and subtract 0.5 hours from the
total 4.0 hours that she billed. In calculating the amount of hours that
may be billed at her hourly rate, we accordingly subtract a total of 1.25
hours that Zeglis billed for filing. Instead, we will allow that time to
be billed at the paralegal rate of $50 per hour. See Holland v.
Barnhart, No. 02-c-8398, 2004 WL 419871, *2 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 3, 2004)
(finding $50 per hour to be a reasonable rate for billing paralegal
services). Having said that, we also note that on September 15, 2003,
Zeglis billed 0.25 hours for filing and, in her affidavit, she submitted
a statement for $25 for her docket clerk's time spent filing. This is
duplicative, so we will allow the $25 charge for the docket clerk's time
but will not include the 0.25 hours billed by Zeglis for filing on that
day. We thus subtract 0.25 hours from the 1.25 hours that will be billed
at the paralegal rate (leaving a total of 1.00 hour spent for filing by
Zeglis, billed at a rate of $50 per hour).
O'Shea's next argument is that the $175.00 per hour rate charged for
work performed by Zeglis, a 2002 law school graduate, was too high. We
agree that a rate of $150.00 per hour is a more reasonable rate for an
attorney with only one year of experience.
Finally, O'Shea argues that the defendants should not be able to recoup
$80.00 that they paid to a court filing service for filing their notice
of removal in the Circuit Court of DuPage County because that court accepts service by mail. We agree that the expense was
unnecessary to the removal and therefore exclude it from our final
calculation of costs.
For the reasons listed above, we find that the defendants are entitled
to a fee award in the amount of $1,724.88. Specifically, we award 1) $1,
296.25 in attorney's fees (8.0 hours spent by Zeglis at an hourly rate of
$150 per hour and 0.25 hours spent by Blocker at a rate of $385.00 per
hour); 2) $50 for paralegal costs (1 hour spent filing at a rate of $50
per hour); 3) $25 for the time that the defendants' docket personnel spent
filing on September 15, 2003; 4) $203.63 for the cost of computerized
legal research; and 5) the $150 filing and appearance fee paid to remove
the action to federal court. It is so ordered.