Lavin v. Husted, No. 13-3838 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, physicians and Medicaid providers, wanted to support candidates in the 2010 election, but were barred from doing so by Ohio Rev. Code 3599.45, which limits campaign contributions from Medicaid providers. They sued , arguing that the statute was unconstitutional on its face under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The court rejected that position on plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and on summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed, finding unconstitutionality “clear” and “unavoidable.” The district court then entered a permanent injunction. Plaintiffs sought attorneys’ fees and costs (42 U.S.C. 1988) of $665,645.68. A magistrate recommended an award of $454,635.53 in fees and $6,442.03 in costs, with a $100,183 reduction for investigatory work performed before plaintiffs signed a fee agreement; a 25 percent reduction on discovery fees; and a 25 percent reduction on appellate fees. The district court awarded only $128,908.74 in fees and $6,315.00 in costs, drastically cutting hourly rates, striking hours spent on third-party discovery and other miscellaneous matters, and reducing appellate hours by 50 percent. After arriving at its lodestar calculation, the district court further reduced the fees by 35 percent under the Johnson factors. The court expressed concern that “taxpayers will ultimately bear the burden … Plaintiffs are medical doctors presumably abundantly capable of paying for representation” and that “counsel was merely scouring through campaign laws hoping to find an old one … to challenge in the hope of raking in overstated fees.” The Sixth Circuit vacated and remanded for recalculation before a different judge.