Payan v. Nash Finch Co., 2012COA135 (August 16, 2012)

How much is an attorney’s time worth, and how much of it should be spent on any particular case? Attorney fee awards address these two basic questions, and in this case, the court of appeals gives detailed guidance on arriving at the answers. More specifically, it addressed where and how reductions to requested fees should be applied. First, percentage reductions should be made to the determination of the reasonable hours billed, not to the gross amount of reasonable fees. But, it was not an abuse of discretion for the trial court to have made the following reductions: 20% for block billing, 12% for dismissed claims, 8% for amount in controversy, and 5% for lack of complexity, among others. $350/hr for a lead attorney and $200/hr for a junior attorney were reasonable rates in this case. The court did not endorse any one figure, just the trial court’s discretion to pick its figures.


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