W.D. Wash. Reduces Fees for Block Billing and Redactions to Billing Descriptions


Last Thursday, Judge Thomas S. Zilly, issued a decision, Seattle Times Co. v. LeatherCare, Inc., No. C15-1901 TSZ, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33177 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 28, 2019), on a motion for attorneys' fees brought by Touchstone. Touchstone prevailed in its claim under the Washington Model Toxics Control Act and for breach of contract. The Act and the contract at issue included provisions allowing a prevailing party in a dispute to recover attorneys' fees and costs.

LeatherCare contended that Touchstone's motion was defective because in addition to failing to submit a proposed order and using a undisclosed expert, it relied on Excel spreadsheets rather than finalized invoices, and redacted the descriptions used in the invoices. Judge Zilly rejected the failure to submit actual invoices as a basis to deny the motion, but agreed , "that Touchstone's 'narrative' redactions impeded the opposing parties' abilities to understand what services had been provided and determine whether objections could be asserted as to the related requests for attorneys' fees." Id. at *4. He chose to disregard the amounts listed for entries with redactions. Fees listed for individuals' whose role at law firms were left unspecified were also denied.

The Court also reduced fees by 10% for block billing that prevented a determination of how much time was spent on particular activities. The fees for the services of one paralegal were reduced by only 10% in response to Touchstone's contention that they were clerical services that should not be recovered as attorney fees.