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U & I Sanitation v. Columbus, City of

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20095
Nos. No. 4:97CV3334, 112 F. Supp. 2d 902/(D. Neb., 08/30/2000) attorney fees awarded

The court holds that a sanitation company that successfully challenged a city's waste hauler ordinance under the dormant Commerce Clause should be awarded $29,720.20 in attorney fees and expenses. The company sought $42,285.75 in attorney fees and $2,091.41 in expenses. Although the company argued that $150 per hour was the appropriate market rate, the court first holds that $125 per hour for experienced lead counsel in non-jury cases raising constitutional claims in the relevant economic market is the appropriate rate to use in calculating the lodestar. The court next holds that the sanitation company cannot recover expenses incurred for long-distance telephone calls, postage/courier, mileage, room and board, and computer-assisted research. Expenses that are reasonable, necessary, and customarily billed to clients in the relevant economic market are properly compensable as a component of a fee award. However, such compensable expenses do not include computerized legal research time, which should be factored into the attorney's hourly rate and not added to the fee award. Further, the request for toll and cellular calls was denied for lack of specificity. The court additionally holds that because the Eighth Circuit determines and awards attorney fees for services on appeal, and has not directed the court otherwise in this case, the sanitation company's request for expenses incurred on appeal is denied.

[A prior decision in this litigation is published at 30 ELR 20382.]

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (7 pp., ELR Order No. L-275).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Douglas J. Peterson
Knudsen & Berkheimer Law Firm
1248 O St., Ste. 1000, Lincoln NE 68508
(402) 475-7011

Counsel for Defendant
John P. Heil
Baird & Holm Law Firm
1500 Woodmen Tower, Omaha NE 68102
(402) 344-0500