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Gaedeke Holdings VII Ltd v. Baker

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

November 7, 2019

GAEDEKE HOLDINGS VII LTD and GAEDEKE OIL & GAS OPERATING, LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
TODD BAKER; BAKER PETROLEUM AND INVESTMENTS, INC.; and LANDON SPEED, Defendants. Case Damages Fee Awarded Ratio

          ORDER RE: ATTORNEYS' FEES

          STEPHEN P. FRIOT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction.

         On November 1, 2019, the court heard evidence and argument on the issues of attorneys' fees and taxable costs. The court had previously determined that plaintiff, as the prevailing party, is entitled to recover reasonable attorneys' fees. By this order, the court determines the amount of the attorneys' fees to be awarded to the plaintiff.[1] The remaining issues as to taxation of costs will be addressed in a separate order.

         The court provided a fair amount of guidance as to its approach to the fee issues in its August 13, 2019 order. Doc. no. 896. The court provided further guidance in its preliminary comments at the November 1 hearing, particularly on the question of the extent to which estimation is permissible in evaluating the various components of a fee award. Those comments-made for the benefit of the parties and a reviewing court-will not be repeated here, but they remain relevant to the court's determinations.

         II. Approach to setting the fee to be awarded.

         In setting a fee to be recovered pursuant to statutory entitlement in a diversity case governed by Oklahoma law, the beginning point is the determination of the lodestar fee. The lodestar fee is the dollar amount resulting from multiplication of the hours reasonably devoted to the case by a reasonable hourly rate. Then, depending on case-specific factors, such as whether a fee enhancement is appropriate as a result of the application of the Burk factors, whether there were some non-fee bearing claims in the mix, and whether work was performed relating to parties other than the party targeted by the fee application, the court must consider whether and to what extent the lodestar fee should be adjusted to arrive at a final fee award. The court concludes that the facts of this case require that the analytical process proceed as follows:

         A. Determine the lodestar fee. The determination of the hours reasonably spent requires scrutiny of the services rendered by three law firms and dozens of lawyers and paralegals. An adjustment will be required for duplication of effort. The determination of the reasonable hourly rates is somewhat less complicated.

         B. Determine whether a Burk enhancement is appropriate. It is not.

         C. Apportion to eliminate services relating exclusively to other defendants. On this issue, some estimation will inevitably be required. Uncertainties resulting from block billing or otherwise uninformative timekeeping practices will be resolved against the plaintiff, as the party with the burden of proof on fee issues.

         D. Apportion to eliminate services relating to non-fee bearing claims. Again, some estimation will be required. And, again, uncertainties will be resolved against

         E. Adjust to arrive at a final fee award which bears some reasonable relationship to the amount in controversy and the amount of the recovery. This is the wild card (in the sense that it is more subjective than any other factor), and potentially the largest adjustment.

         III. Application of the controlling principles.

         After careful consideration of the controlling principles, as discussed in this order, in the August 13 order and at the hearing, the court concludes that plaintiff should be awarded an attorneys' fee recovery in the amount of $106, 992, determined as set forth in the following table and as further explained below.

         Fee ...


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