Beyond the Call of Duty: U.S. District Court Reduces Fee for Unreasonableness

After finding violations of a JMU student's due process rights, U.S. District Court Judge awarded $574,180.03 in attorney's fees, a significant reduction from the magistrate judge's recommendation of almost $850,000.  In Doe v. Alger, et al. John Doe requested fees after the Western District of Virginia granted summary judgment in his favor, finding that James Madison University deprived Doe of due process before suspending him. Judge Elizabeth Dillon determined that a more significant reduction from the magistrate judge's report and recommendation was warranted for several reasons, including what she regarded as the overall unreasonableness of hours expended for a relatively straightforward case. Doe's fee petition sought compensation for the work of ten attorneys and one paralegal; while Judge Dillon acknowledges there can be an appreciable benefit to multiple attorneys working on one case, the 3,247.1 hours expended was not reasonable or efficient in this factually uncomplicated case. The fee award was also reduced for block billing and over-litigating the attorney's fee issue.

Read the full opinion here.