127 F.3d 693 (8th Cir. 1997), 97-1350, Little Rock School Dist. v. State of Ark.

Docket Nº:97-1350.
Citation:127 F.3d 693
Party Name:LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL DISTRICT and Pulaski County Special School District, Appellees, v. STATE OF ARKANSAS, Appellant.
Case Date:October 14, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 693

127 F.3d 693 (8th Cir. 1997)

LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL DISTRICT and Pulaski County Special

School District, Appellees,

v.

STATE OF ARKANSAS, Appellant.

No. 97-1350.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

October 14, 1997

Submitted July 14, 1997.

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Timothy G. Gauger, Little Rock, AR, argued (Winston Bryant, Attorney General, on the brief), for appellant.

Christopher Heller, Little Rock, AR, argued (John C. Fendley, Jr., Little Rock, AR, on the brief), for appellee Little Rock School District.

M. Samuel Jones, III, Little Rock, AR, argued (Claire Shows Hancock, Little Rock, AR, on the brief), for appellee Pulaski County Special School District.

Before RICHARD S. ARNOLD, Chief Judge, HEANEY and WOLLMAN, Circuit Judges.

RICHARD S. ARNOLD, Chief Judge.

In 1994, the Little Rock School District (LRSD) and the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) sought to enforce the terms of their settlement agreement with the Arkansas State Department of Education ("the State") in the Pulaski County school desegregation litigation. The District Court found that the State had broken the settlement agreement in three respects: the disbursement of funds for the districts' workers' compensation payments; the treatment of majority-to-minority students in calculating loss funding for the districts; and the implementation of a statewide public school computer network. The State appealed the District Court's order. This Court affirmed the District Court's order with respect to the workers' compensation payment scheme and the calculation of loss funding. We reversed the order with respect to the computer network. The school districts filed a petition for rehearing, which was denied.

LRSD and PCSSD then applied to the District Court for successive extensions of the attorneys' fees deadline. The motion for fees was originally due on January 27, 1995. The school districts filed motions for, and the District Court approved, successive extensions to apply for fees. PCSSD filed its motion for fees in the District Court on August 19, 1996. LRSD filed its motion on August 30, 1996. Both school districts' fee requests included expenses incurred in appellate litigation.

For at least part of the services rendered to each district, their lawyers had charged hourly rates lower than their normal rates as of August 1996. PCSSD's motion showed that attorney Sam Jones's current and normal billing rate was $175 hourly, but that PCSSD had been charged $135 hourly during 1995 and 1996, and $110 hourly during 1994. Attorney Claire Hancock's current and normal billing rate was $145 hourly, but PCSSD was charged $110 hourly. Manager Angell Jones's current and normal billing rate was $75 hourly, but PCSSD was charged $55 hourly in 1994. Similarly, LRSD attorney Chris Heller's current and normal rate was $160 hourly, but LRSD was charged $105 hourly for his services. Attorney Clay Fendley's current and normal rate was $100 hourly, but LRSD was charged $85 hourly.

The District Court found that LRSD and PCSSD were entitled to fees as prevailing parties pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. PCSSD was awarded $28,854.50, based on the lower rates that it was actually charged

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by its lawyers. LRSD was awarded $42,520.00 in attorneys' fees, based on the higher current and normal rates, as well as $563.32 in costs. The District Court later amended PCSSD's attorneys' fees award to $36,464.00, to reflect at least partially the attorneys' higher current and normal rates: it increased Sam Jones's compensable hourly rate to $160 and Claire Hancock's to $145.

The State appeals the award of attorneys' fees to the school districts on three grounds. First, it argues that LRSD and PCSSD were not entitled to attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 because they were not prevailing parties and because enforcement of the settlement agreement is not a cause of action for which fee-shifting is provided. Second, it argues that LRSD's and PCSSD's failure to make a motion to this Court, pursuant to Eighth Circuit Rule 47C, precluded the District Court's award of attorneys' fees for services rendered on appeal. Third, it argues that the District Court erred in calculating the amount of the fee award by including time...

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