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Judicial Watch • Felarca v Berkeley Unified School Dist Order Fees 06282

Felarca v Berkeley Unified School Dist Order Fees 06282

Felarca v Berkeley Unified School Dist Order Fees 06282

Page 1: Felarca v Berkeley Unified School Dist Order Fees 06282

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Number of Pages:3

Date Created:April 10, 2019

Date Uploaded to the Library:April 22, 2019

Tags:felarca, 06282, Berkeley, district


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Case 3:17-cv-06282-VC Document 125 Filed 04/10/19 Page
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT CALIFORNIA
YVETTE FELARCA, al.,
Case No. 17-cv-06282-VC
Plaintiffs,
ORDER MOTION FOR
ATTORNEY FEES
BERKELEY UNIFIED SCHOOL
DISTRICT, al.,
Re: Dkt. No.
Defendants. Attorney fees should only awarded against civil rights plaintiffs exceptional
circumstances. See Herb Hallman Chevrolet, Inc. Nash-Holmes, 169 F.3d 636, 645 (9th Cir.
1999). This exceptional circumstance: Judicial Watch entitled attorney fees because
the plaintiffs lawsuit was frivolous, and their litigation conduct was unreasonable. See id. start, significant portion the documents the plaintiffs initially sued protect from
disclosure had been publicly disclosed months earlier another suit brought Ms. Felarca
against BUSD, where she was represented the same counsel. See generally Felarca
Berkeley Unified School District, No. 3:16-cv-06184-RS. The plaintiffs, therefore, had
reasonable argument protect those documents from disclosure. The plaintiffs then dragged
their feet producing privilege log identifying the documents they sought protect from
disclosure and the reasons why non-disclosure was warranted. Consequently, the Court was
forced order the parties meet and confer the courthouse for several days produce that
log. See Dkt. No. 71. There was reasonable basis for this dilatory conduct the plaintiffs.
Moreover, the plaintiffs First Amendment claims were premised the obviously
baseless assumption that the First Amendment condemns the alt-right while condoning the
Case 3:17-cv-06282-VC Document 125 Filed 04/10/19 Page
ideological missions their own organizations. The plaintiffs also mischaracterized the
documents under review. See, e.g., Motion for Summary Judgment Dkt. No. 76; Reply
19, 20, Dkt. No. 82. And they failed grapple with the role Ms. Felarca played making
herself topic public discourse through her physical conduct public rallies and her
voluntary appearance Fox News. Judicial Watch requests $317,850 attorney fees, but there are several reasons why
the award should lower. Cf. Fox Vice, 563 U.S. 826, 838 (2011). First, Judicial Watch did
not properly account for its role intervenor. See Grove Mead School District No. 354,
753 F.2d 1528, 1535 (9th Cir. 1985); Donnell United States, 682 F.2d 240, 247 (D.C. Cir.
1982). Therefore, the request should reduced reflect the fact that some the arguments
made Judicial Watch were duplicative those made BUSD. Second, the request should
reduced account for delays the litigation that were the fault BUSD rather than the
plaintiffs. The request should also discounted for the time spent making arguments that
pertained state claims, which were not decided the merits. See Dkt. No. 90; Fox, 563 U.S. 836. Lastly, Judicial Watch request doesn account for the plaintiffs limited financial
resources. See Miller Los Angeles County Bd. Educ., 827 F.2d 617, 621 (9th Cir. 1987).
Accordingly, the Court awards Judicial Watch $22,000 attorney fees, allocated among
the plaintiffs who are not joint and severally liable the following way: Ms. Felarca will pay
$20,000; Ms. Nixon will pay $1,000; and Mr. Stefl will pay $1,000. This allocation reflects the
Court impression each plaintiff relative responsibility for the frivolous and unreasonable
conduct described above.1 Judicial Watch also moves for $8,309.59 litigation costs. The Court finds that some the expenses were unreasonably high, like those for airfare and hotel rooms. Therefore, the
Court awards $4,000 litigation expenses, for which the plaintiffs are jointly and severally
liable.
Had Judicial Watch moved sanction plaintiffs counsel, likely could have recovered great
deal more from them.
Case 3:17-cv-06282-VC Document 125 Filed 04/10/19 Page ORDERED.
Dated: April 10, 2019
______________________________________
VINCE CHHABRIA
United States District Judge