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Robert Westefer, et al v. Donald Snyder

February 15, 2011

ROBERT WESTEFER, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DONALD SNYDER, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Murphy, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on the issue of appointment of a Special Master. On September 30, 2010, the Court, on its own motion, notified the parties that it was considering the appointment of a Special Master to determine the attorneys' fees and costs to be awarded pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b) in this case. See Doc. 566. The Court invited the parties to comment on the terms of such an appointment. See id. The parties have submitted comments on the terms of appointment of a Special Master. See Doc. 585, Doc. 586. The Court has conducted a hearing on the issue of appointment of a Special Master. See Doc. 597. Having considered the matter carefully, the Court appoints a Special Master as follows.

1. Selection of the Special Master: The Court selects as Special Master in this case attorney Gerald R. Ortbals of the firm of Bryan Cave, LLP, St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Ortbals is an able civil litigator with an outstanding reputation in the local legal community. He has extensive experience in the area of complex litigation and attorneys' fee awards, and the Court believes that Mr. Ortbals is well suited to serve as a Special Master in this matter.

2. Duties of the Special Master: The Special Master shall have the following duties in this matter:

A. To review Plaintiffs' petition for attorneys' fees and costs (Doc. 569) and all memoranda, responses, objections (including objections, if any, filed by members of the Plaintiff class pursuant to Rule 23(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure), and reply briefs which have been or may be filed in support of or in opposition to any of these documents.

B. If deemed necessary by the Special Master, to hold an evidentiary hearing on the amount of attorneys' fees and costs to be awarded, for the purpose of determining any disputed facts which may be material to that issue.

C. To prepare and file with the Court a report and recommendation regarding the amount of attorneys' fees and costs which should be awarded to Plaintiffs. The Special Master shall attach a copy of any document used as evidence, referenced, or relied upon by the Special Master in issuing the report and recommendation. No later than thirty (30) days prior to filing its report with the Court, the Special Master shall serve a draft report on one designated representative of counsel for Plaintiffs, and one designated representative of counsel for Defendants, and shall afford counsel twenty (20) days to submit specific written objections. Thereafter, the Special Master shall serve and file the report and recommendation in accordance with Rule 53(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Special Master's reports shall be final unless, no later than twenty (20) days after service of the report and recommendation, a party files written objections with the Court. If any party files objections, the opposing party shall have twenty (20) days to file a reply to the objections with the Court. If objections are filed, the Court will consider the matter de novo, and issue an order adopting the report and recommendation in full or as modified, or rejecting the report.

D. The duties set forth herein may be further specified, expanded, or modified only by Order of this Court.

3. Powers of the Special Master: The powers of the Special Master are to be used only as necessary to perform his duties as the Special Master in this case and shall be limited to the following:

A. To meet with counsel for the parties, and other representatives of the parties, in person or in a telephonic conference, to discuss any issue relevant to the Special Master's duties.

B. To retain or employ assistants, administrative support staff, or any other person whose advice or assistance the Special Master deems necessary to the effective fulfillment of the Special Master's duties. The Special Master shall inform the parties in writing at least fourteen (14) days before he or she petitions the Court to employ such persons. The requirements of Rule 706 of the Federal Rules of Evidence shall apply if the Special Master retains persons who are to provide substantive or expert assistance, consultation, investigation, reporting, or testimony. The parties shall submit their opposition to the Court fourteen (14) days after receiving the Special Master's notice that he or she intends to retain such persons. All such persons, as well as the nature of their compensation, shall be approved by the Court in advance of their retention or employment.

C. To hold and conduct evidentiary hearings with respect to the amount of fees and costs to be awarded pursuant to Section 2 of this Order. In the event such an evidentiary hearing may be deemed necessary, the following procedures shall be followed:

i. The parties shall be entitled to reasonable discovery relevant to the pending dispute before any hearing before the Special Master, including production of documents and depositions. The Special Master shall have the authority to regulate discovery as provided in Rule 53(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

ii. Any hearing before the Special Master shall take place in the presence of a certified court reporter. The reporter's transcript and any documents or other materials accepted into evidence by the ...


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