In Gastineau v. Wright, — F.3d —-, 2010 WL 154794 (7th Cir. 2010), the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit approved of a reduction of a plaintiff’s counsel’s attorneys’ fees because of counsel’s experience prosecuting FDCPA matters, explaining:


Duff argues that the district court abused its discretion by lowering his hourly rate from $250 to $150 based on his lack of experience. Duff also contends that the court’s additional reduction in the amount of hours reasonably billed constituted an impermissible double penalty. ¶  In deciding a reduction was warranted, the district court observed that Duff became involved in the Gastineaus’ case approximately three years after the action commenced, and was the third attorney to represent the Gastineaus. Despite Duff’s asserted thirteen years of litigation experience and consumer law practice, this case represented his first Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) case to progress through discovery to trial; his only other FDCPA case resulted in a default judgment. Furthermore, in this case Duff assumed the Gastineaus’ representation after substantial discovery work and motions practice had been completed. As the district court noted, the two affidavits that Duff offered in support of his rate are wholly inapposite. Moreover, the defendants’ submission of an affidavit from Indiana attorney Charles Leone, who has substantial experience in the area and opined that Duff’s request was unreasonably excessive, gives credence to the court’s determination. The court also considered the fact that the prior attorney for the Gastineaus, although suspended from practice, billed at a rate of $150.00 per hour. In fact, it was the prior attorney who successfully defended against the defendants’ summary judgment motion.    As the district court explained, because Duff became involved so late in the case, it should have been a relatively straightforward FDCPA action. The court concluded that although Duff negotiated a final settlement, it was inappropriate that a substantial portion of the hours billed were to compensate him for learning this area of the law. This conclusion was not clearly erroneous. The record reflects that Duff was learning while litigating this case and neither commanded the rate requested nor earned the amount of time billed. The district court considered in meticulous detail Duff’s billing entries and the remainder of his arguments in calculating the lodestar fee. As the district court noted, “Duff does not offer any evidence from any attorney of ‘reasonably comparable skill, experience, and reputation’ to support his requested hourly rate or his expenditure of over 500 hours on the case.”