In Fitzgerald v. Law Office of Curtis O. Barnes, 2013 WL 1627740 (E.D.Cal. 2013), Judge Austin rejected application of the Laffey Matrix or Consumer Law Attorney Fee Survey Report as a basis to compute a fee rate under the FDCPA.
In support of the requested hourly rates for counsel, Plaintiff adduces the United States Consumer Law Attorney Fee Survey Report (2010–2011), compiled by Ronald L. Burdge, and the “Laffey Matrix,” created by the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The Court finds both these sources inapposite for determining hourly rates prevailing in the forum in which this Court sits, i.e., the Eastern District of California, Fresno Division. The Consumer Law Attorney Fee Survey Report provides median attorney billing rates for California as whole. (Doc13–4). The Laffey Matrix is a chart of hourly rates for attorneys of varying experience levels based on “the range of rates that prevail in the Washington, D.C. area.” Laffey v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 572 F.Supp. 354, 374 (D.D.C.1983), aff’d in part, rev’d in part on other grounds, 746 F.2d 4 (D.C.Cir.1984). The Laffey matrix uses rates from the early 1980s—approved by the Laffey court—as a base-line, updating them on a yearly basis “by adding the change in the cost of living for the Washington, D.C. area to the applicable rate for the prior year.” See Laffey Matrix, n. 3 (Doc. 13–5). Neither the Laffey Matrix nor the Consumer Law Attorney Fee Survey Report provide data on prevailing rates in the Eastern District of California, Fresno Division. Hence both are irrelevant to deter-mining reasonable hourly rates for Plaintiff’s counsel. ¶ In support of the requested hourly rates for counsel, Plaintiff further adduces declarations from three consumer law attorneys, Nicholas Bontrager, G. Thomas Martin, III, and Steven Solomon, none of whom are based in or practice in this district. (Doc. 13–6). Mr. Martin and Mr. Solomon opine that the hourly rates charged by Plaintiff’s counsel are in line with rates charged by consumer litigators practicing in the Ninth Circuit; neither attorney addresses the prevailing rates in the instant forum, the Eastern District of California, Fresno Division. The third attorney to submit a declaration in support of Plaintiff’s motion, Mr. Bontrager, states that he is “familiar with the hourly rates charged in federal consumer cases, including those litigated in the Eastern District of California,” and that based upon his “research and experience,” the hourly rates charged by Plaintiff’s attorneys are reasonable. However, Mr. Bontrager, a licensed attorney since 2007, does not clarify whether he has ever practiced in this forum, nor does he reveal the sources of his familiarity and experience with prevailing local rates. In sum, the declarations of Mr. Bontrager, Mr. Martin and Mr. Solomon lack specific information pertaining to local hourly rates and do not provide a basis for ascertaining reasonable rates for Plaintiff’s counsel.