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Markay v Perez Decision by Judge Beryl A. Howell, US District Court for the District of Columbia supporting the use of the Adjusted Laffey Matrix.

See Ricks v. Barnes, No. 05-1756 HHK/DAR, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22410, at *16 (D.D.C. Mar. 28, 2007) (finding Updated Matrix rates reasonable); Smith
v. District of Columbia, 466 F. Supp. 2d 151, 156 (D.D.C. 2006) (concluding that use of the Updated Matrix is reasonable and noting that the Updated Matrix is more accurate than the Laffey Matrix because the Updated Matrix is “based on increases/decreases in legal services rather than increase[s]/decreases in the entire CPI which includes price changes for many
different goods and services”); Kempf v. Barrett Bus. Servs., No. C-06-3161 SC, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89447 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 20, 2007) (finding attorneys’ requested fees reasonable when
compared to rates in the Updated Matrix).

Gregory V. Chiron, et al; Plaintiff's response to Order

Smith v DC et al; Memorandum Opinion

The Third Circuit Court of Federal Appeals adopted the Adjusted Laffey Matrix. Interfaith Community Organization v. Honeywell International, Inc., 426 F.3d 694 (3rd Cir. 2005). ("In updating the matrix to account for inflation from 1989-2003, ICO relied on the legal services component of the nationwide Consumer Price Index (“the Legal Services Index”), a measure of inflation in the cost of legal services maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics."). The Court of Appeals noted that the District Court "reviewed both indices [the DOJ Matrix and the Adjusted Laffey Matrix] and decided that [the Adjusted Laffey Matrix] represented a better measure of prevailing rates in Washington, DC. In so doing, it relied on a decision by the District Court for the District of Columbia, Salazar v. District of Columbia, 123 F.Supp.2d 8 (D.D.C.2000), which compared the U.S. Attorney's Laffey Matrix with a matrix similar to that put forward by ICO in this case and concluded that the latter method was superior. Salazar is one of the few decisions approving the use of this approach, and it is, according to ICO, the only decision (prior to the District Court decision in this case) comparing the two approaches."
The Fourth Circuit has implicitly supported the use of the legal services component of the CPI, rather than the general CPI itself, for determining attorney's fees under 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b). See Sullivan v. Sullivan, 958 F.2d 574, 577 & n.8 (4th Cir. 1992). The US District Court for the District of North Carolina has adopted the Adjusted Laffey Matrix as well. North Carolina Alliance for Transportation Reform, Inc. v. United States Department of Transportation, 168 F. Supp. 2d 569 (D.NC 2001) ("Plaintiffs adjust the matrix's billing rates by applying the annual inflationary factor for legal services as reported in the United States Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index ("CPI")").
Some California Federal courts have accepted the same methodology, adjusting the Laffey Matrix upwards based upon the higher costs of living in Los Angeles and other California cities. In Re HPL Technologies, Inc. Securities Litigation, 366 F.Supp.2d 912, 921 (N. Dist. Cal. 2005). See also “It is the practice of the undersigned judge, however, to rely on official data to determine appropriate hourly rates, not on an attorney's self-proclaimed rates or declarations regarding hourly rates charged by law firms. One reliable official source for rates that vary by experience levels is the Laffey matrix used in the District of Columbia.” Garnes v. Barnhardt, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5938 (N. Dist. Cal. 2006).

 

 

"The initial estimate of a reasonable attorney's fee "--the so-called lodestar fee--" [sic] is properly calculated by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation times a reasonable hourly rate."  Sexcius v. District of Columbia, 839 F. Supp. 919, 921 (D.D.C. 1993) [*4] (quoting Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 888, 79 L. Ed. 2d 891, 104 S. Ct. 1541 (1984)) aff'd Covington v. District of Columbia, 313 U.S. App. D.C. 16, 57 F.3d 1101 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (Covington II ). Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424 (1983). 

Normally, a prevailing party must establish a reasonable hourly rate, usually with affidavits and other evidence of the market rate.  Kling v. Department of Justice, MSPB Dkt. No. AT075299048 (July 22, 1980)). “Affidavits are a particularly appropriate means of establishing the reasonableness of the amount of fees claimed.  Kling, supra.  A reasonable hourly rate may also be established by affidavits from other attorneys in the community with similar experience stating the rates that they charge fee-paying clients in similar cases. See Montreuil v. Department of the Air Force, 55 M.S.P.R. 685, 690-91 (1992) (citing Swanson v. Defense Logistics Agency, 35 M.S.P.R. 115, 119 (1987)).

In addition to affidavits and prior fee settlements, the Laffey Matrix is very useful as a guide to Market Rate attorney fees for the Baltimore / Washington area.  The Laffey Matrix has been cited as good evidence of the Market Rate for attorneys practicing in federal employment arbitration matters.  See Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration and AFGE, 93 FLRR 1-4011 (1993); Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, DC and NTEU, 93 FLRR 1-1283, 48 FLRA No. 100, 48 FLRA 931 (1993); Hatfield v. Garrett, 90 FEOR 1046 (EEOC 1989).Laffey v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 572 F.Supp. 354, 371 (D.D.C. 1983); Save Our Cumberland Mountains v. Hodel, 857 F.2d 1516, 1525
(D.C. Cir. 1988) (en banc).

Regarding the “updated version of the Laffey matrix,” the Court in McDowell v. District of Columbia, Civ. A. No. 00-594 (RCL), LEXSEE 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8114 (D.D.C. June 4, 2001) stated in part:

"Plaintiffs may point to such [*9] evidence as an updated version of the Laffey matrix or the U.S. Attorney's Office matrix, or their own survey" to demonstrate the prevailing market rates in the community. n5 Covington II, 57 F.3d at 1109. Moreover, the plaintiffs may supplement any matrix that has been offered with "evidence of recent fees awarded by the court." Id.  "Finally, the defendants may challenge plaintiff attorneys' market data, in an effort to show that the submitted market rates are inaccurate." Id. at 1110; see also Covington v. District of Columbia, 839 F. Supp. 894, 898 (D.D.C. 1993) (Covington I) (permitting defendants a chance to persuade court on what prevailing market rates are) aff'd Covington II, 313 U.S. App. D.C. 16, 57 F.3d 1101; Cf. Oil and Chemical Workers, 2001 WL 427287, at *7 (allowing the defendant to propose alternate methods of compensation for attorneys who did not meet the other factors for receiving compensation).

n5 The matrix may be found in Laffey v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 572 F. Supp. 354 (D.D.C. 1983)

Here, while the plaintiffs do not give an updated Laffey matrix, they do cite the matrix. n6 (Plaintiffs' Motion for fees at 3). Moreover, plaintiffs also supplement their motion by presenting cases that show an increase in the Laffey scale. For example, the plaintiffs attached Dorsett to show an increase of fees to $ 280 per hour. (Plaintiffs' Unpublished Cases); Dorsett v. District of Columbia, No. 00- 212, slip op. (D.D.C. Sep. 12, 2000). The plaintiffs also included Wingfield to justify a fee award of $ 335 per hour. n7 (Plaintiffs' Notice of Supp. Case); Wingfield v. District of Columbia, No. 00-121, slip op. at 6 (D.D.C. Apr. 13, 2001). Finally, recent cases such as Salazar have justified an award of $ 444 per hour and $ 369 per hour based on an updated version of the Laffey matrix. Salazar v. District of Columbia, 123 F. Supp. 2d 8, 13 (D.D.C. 2000).”

The Court in Salazar approved an updated version of the Laffey matrix, which is provided as Exhibit 1 hereto. The Laffey matrix is computed by multiplying a base hourly rate by an Adjustment Factor.  The updated Laffey matrix uses more accurate, recent base hourly rates and a more accurate Adjustment Factor.  The updated Laffey matrix has been cited with approval.  See, e.g.,  McDowell v. District of Columbia, Civ. A. No. 00-594 (RCL), LEXSEE 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8114 (D.D.C. June 4, 2001) citing Salazar v. District of Columbia, 123 F. Supp. 2d 8, 13 (D.D.C. 2000).