Federal District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall Grants Plaintiffs' Counsel Motion for Attorneys' Fees and awards $881,675.75 in fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act after finding Defendant United States of America acted in "bad faith" PR Newswire LOS ANGELES, May 27, 2014 LOS ANGELES, May 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --The Honorable Consuelo B. Marshall, (C.D. Cal) has awarded Plaintiff's Counsel from Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman (SDSHH) a landmark fee award of $881,675.75, finding the Defendant United States of America acted in "bad faith" throughout the course of litigation since 2000. Asylum Officer Thomas Powell was caught red-handed in a sting operation involving Plaintiff Jie Hao, one of two asylum victims who were subjected to demands for sexual favors and bribes for money in exchange for granting their applications. Plaintiffs sued the Government for violations of their civil rights and emotional distress endured since the incident occurred in 2000. Plaintiffs' Counsel filed a motion for attorney's fees in September 2013 under the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA") after prevailing at trial with a $1.2 million dollar verdict (http://www.losangelesemploymentlawyer.com/News-About-Our-Firm/Jim-DeSimone-and-Menaka-Fernando-achieve-1-2-million-civil-rights-and-harassment-verdict-when-asylum-officer-demanded-sexual-favors-and-money.shtml). The award is significant because of the explicit finding of continuous and pervasive bad faith of the Defendant United States of America. The Court found that from June 8, 2000 forward—when Plaintiff Hao completed the sting operation with Department of Justice officials—Defendant's bad faith has affected all of the "various phases of litigation," including Defendant's pre-litigation conduct and conduct during the litigation. In particular, Defendant maintained throughout this litigation that by participating in the sting operation, Plaintiff Hao consented to any misconduct carried out by Powell. The Court finds that Defendant's failure to come to her aid after Powell touched Plaintiffs' buttocks was bad faith. Despite possessing this unambiguous evidence of Powell's misconduct, Defendant delayed the adjudication of Plaintiff Hao's asylum application for seven years until the criminal case against Powell was resolved, preventing her from reuniting with her family, which was also found to be in bad faith because Defendant could have adjudicated the asylum case while waiting for her to testify at Powell's criminal trial. The court's fee motion award flatly rejected Defendant's argument stating, "Plaintiffs were required to respond to Defendants' meritless and offensive consent arguments throughout this case. Plaintiff Hao agreed to assist in the sting operation so that the Government might have a stronger case against Powell. However, Plaintiff Hao did not consent to be subjected to the sexual touching, hugging, kissing, anxiety, and depression that ultimately resulted." Additionally, Defendant continued to maintain throughout the litigation that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the intentional tort exception under the FTCA—which Defendant raised even after the Ninth Circuit held otherwise in a Published Decision —constitutes bad faith. (http://www.losangelesemploymentlawyer.com/Published-Decisions/Xue-Lu-v-United-States-of-America.pdf) Judge Marshall found "Defendant's bad faith has affected all portions or phases of the litigation since June 8, 2000, the date that the Plaintiff Hao and Department of Justice officials conducted the sting operation involving Powell." She awarded Plaintiffs' counsel V. James DeSimone, Michael Seplow, Menaka Fernando, Douglas Ingraham and Do Kim market rates, rather than the Equal Access to Justice Act rate of $125 per hour, based on their specialized knowledge in litigating this case for fourteen years. Plaintiffs' counsel, Kunti Dudakia, an Associate who joined SDSHH in August 2013, crafted the bad faith argument in the fee motion and argued the motion before Judge Marshall emphasizing the bad faith conduct began in the pre-litigation phase of this case where Defendant's maintained Plaintiff Hao consented to Powell's misconduct and emphasized the offensive nature of this argument and the need for justice and closure after fourteen years of litigation. V. James DeSimone, lead trial and appellate counsel, stated, "Our clients have waited fifteen long years for justice. They came to this country with great hope and aided our country by putting a predator behind bars. It is time for the United States to honor their service and compensate them fairly by paying this Judgment and Attorney Fee Award." For more information contact: Kunti Dudakia, Esq. Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP 723 Ocean Front Walk Venice, CA 90291 T: (310) 396-0731 http://www.losangelesemploymentlawyer.com SOURCE Schonbrun Desimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP Website: http://www.losangelesemploymentlawyer.com
Federal District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall Grants Plaintiffs' Counsel Motion for Attorneys' Fees and awards $881,675.75
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