Citimortage Inc. v. Speer
When ruling on reasonable attorneys' fees, a court may consider the amount of time and labor and the novelty and complexity of legal issues. The plaintiff, Citimortgage Inc., filed a complaint to foreclose a mortgage in the amount of $158,000. Previously, a court found that the defendant was entitled to an award of attorneys' fees, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §42-150bb, as the "prevailing party." The defendant's attorney, Hanson Guest, testified about his legal credentials and work. The defendant, Sheri Speer, indicated that she received "excellent" legal services. Attorney Guest billed $450 per hour and Attorney Jeremy Baver billed $275 per hour. Guest Associates LLC requested attorneys' fees in the amount of $28,577. The plaintiff objected that the hourly rates were excessive and that the foreclosure suit was not novel and did not include complex legal issues. "[T]he defendant's counsel," wrote the court, "entered the case at a late stage, had to muster an almost instant defense and obtained a very good result." Defense counsel possessed significant expertise, and the court approved $400 per hour for Attorney Guest and $250 per hour for Attorney Baver. The court did not approve an attorneys' fee award for the defendant's legal assistant. The court observed that defense counsel apparently continued to work on the defense, after the plaintiff withdrew the complaint in January 2012. The court approved reasonable attorneys' fees of $19,900.