Determining the Reasonableness of Block Billing and Expenses

When determining the reasonableness of attorneys’ fees within a block billed line item, the Court looks to how detailed the line item description is and whether time billed can be deemed reasonable. When determining if an expense line item is to be included within “reasonable attorneys’ fees,” the Court has to decide if an expense is necessary to the prosecution or defense of the case. The case of U.S. Welding, Inc. v. TECSYS, Inc., 2017 WL 4334009 (D. Colo. Sept. 8, 2017), illustrates the significant importance of detailed billing.

The Court found that a line item that included drafting a brief, reviewing instructions, a telephone conference, and correspondence with opposing counsel, which amounted to 11.4 hours, contained enough detail to permit an assessment that the tasks performed were reasonable; therefore, no deduction was taken. The Court also weighed in on the reasonableness of fees associated with unsuccessful litigation strategies. The issues cited by U.S. Welding, issues on which TECSYS did not achieve full success, were closely related to the other claims in this case. TECSYS did not obtain all of the relief it sought from the court. However, there was no indication that TECSYS and its counsel acted unreasonably in raising these issues in the course of this litigation. In this context, attorney fees tied to these issues were reasonable attorney fees.

In the quest for gaining reimbursement of expenses as reasonable attorney fees, the Court states that the expenses may be awarded only if the item or service was necessary for prosecution or defense of the case. In this case, the Court determined that the expenses for expert witnesses (only if the expert witness’ invoice was of sufficient detail to determine reasonableness), transcripts, shipping charges, messengers, copies, data processing, and travel expenses were all reasonably necessary to the case. In contrast, the Court found that the hourly billing for law and research librarians, document and database administrators, communications specialists, and graphics staff had not been sufficiently demonstrated as charges that are usually charged to the client; therefore, these costs are not part of a reasonable attorney fee.

Inquire Today

Ethical Billing Education