Kerkeles v. City of San JoseAnnotate this Case
Six years after a San Jose police officer testified falsely against plaintiff during a preliminary hearing, the city agreed to pay plaintiff $150,000 and not to oppose any motion plaintiff might bring for a declaration of factual innocence of the criminal charges brought against him. The parties agreed that plaintiff’s counsel could seek an award of costs incurred and reasonable attorney’s fees under the Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Award Act, 42 U.S.C. 1988. Plaintiff sought $1,448,397 in attorney fees and $75,255 in costs, based on “2,419.9 compensable attorney hours … utilizing reasonable hourly billing rates roughly 20% below established market rates[,] i.e[.,] ranging from $425 to $650 per hour,” plus $102,998.75, added for “fees-on-fees work.” Plaintiff also requested a 1.5 multiplier to the lodestar amount “to account for the significant risk counsel has taken in litigating this hotly[ ]contested matter on a wholly contingent basis, with little prospect of settlement until the eve of trial.” The court awarded compensation of $436,807.50, declined to apply the 1.5 multiplier, and awarded costs of $23,935.07. The court of appeals remanded, finding the lower court’s reasoning inadequate.