In Klein v. Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers, 2015 WL 3626946, at *5 (N.D.Cal. 2015), Judge Breyer was called on to address a Plaintiff’s counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees under the Rosenthal Act.  Plaintiff’s counsel sought discovery of defense counsel’s billing records to support Plaintiff’s counsel’s fee application and to refute the Defense counsel’s argument that the Plaintiff’s counsel’s fees were unreasonable.  Judge Breyer disallowed the discovery.

The Court denies Klein’s request to conduct discovery as to the billing records of Defendants’ counsel. Klein asserts that refusing to allow discovery as to the billing records of Defendants’ counsel would be an abuse of discretion because Defendants have challenged the reasonableness of the fees requested. Memo. at 16; see also Henson v. Columbus Bank & Trust Co., 770 F.2d 1566, 1575 (11th Cir. 1985). But Klein misrepresents Henson’s holding. Henson does not stand for the proposition that a court must allow discovery as to an opposing party’s billing records when such party objects to fees requested by a prevailing party. Rather, Henson allowed the discovery sought only after it explicitly recognized that discovery of those records was inappropriate in many situations, since an opposing party’s billing entries would have little probative value where the nature of its work was very different from the other party’s. See id. at 1574–75. This is one such situation: the only work performed by Defendants’ counsel appears to have been the filing of a Rule 68 Offer and the Opposition to the pending motion, whereas Klein’s counsel had to research his claims, determine strategy, and then file the motion for attorneys’ fees and costs. The other case cited by Klein, Real v. Cont’l Grp., Inc., 116 F.R.D. 211 (N.D.Cal. 1986), is distinguishable on similar grounds. Opposing counsel’s billing records were discoverable in that case because the parties had both engaged in extensive discovery and pretrial motion practice, so their work was much more similar in quantity and quality than the work of the parties in this action. Cont’l Grp., Inc., 116 F.R.D. at 213. Consequently, the Court will not permit discovery into Defendants’ billing records, as those documents would not be relevant to judging the reasonableness of Klein’s requested fees.