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P. 1
Bywaters v. United States, No.11-1032 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 1, 2012)

Bywaters v. United States, No.11-1032 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 1, 2012)

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07/10/2013

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United States Court of Appealsfor the Federal Circuit
 __________________________  ASHBURN BYWATERS, CARL LANCASTER,BETTY L. HOHENBERGER, ORMAN RODERICK,JUNE RODERICK,
 AND
NAN O. BEELER,
 Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.UNITED STATES,
 Defendant-Appellee.
 __________________________ 
2011-1032
 __________________________ 
 Appeal from the United States District Court for theEastern District of Texas in case no. 99-CV-0451, JudgeLeonard Davis.
 ___________________________ 
Decided: March 1, 2012
 ___________________________ 
 ATHLEEN
C.
 
 AUFFMAN
, Ackerson Kauffman Fex,PC, of Washington, DC, argued for plaintiffs-appellants.On the brief was C
ECILIA 
F
EX
.E
LLEN
J.
 
D
URKEE
, Attorney, Appellate Section, Envi-ronment & Natural Resources Division, United StatesDepartment of Justice, of Washington, DC, argued fordefendant-appellee. With her on the brief was I
GNACIA 
S.
 
M
ORENO
, Assistant Attorney General.
 
BYWATERS
v.
US
 2
 __________________________ 
Before R
 ADER
,
Chief Judge
, P
LAGER
and D
 YK 
,
CircuitJudges
.Opinion for the court filed by
Circuit Judge
D
 YK 
. Dissent-ing opinion filed by
Circuit Judge
P
LAGER
.D
 YK 
,
Circuit Judge
.This case presents the question of when a districtcourt may reduce the “lodestar” calculation of reasonableattorneys’ fees to account for the “amount involved andresults obtained” or other factors. Although the districtcourt here did an exemplary job, we conclude that twoerrors require a remand. First, while the district courtmay reduce the lodestar figure to account for the “amountinvolved and results obtained” and other factors in rareand exceptional circumstances, we conclude that thedistrict court erred here by taking these factors intoaccount
after
calculating the lodestar figure, rather thanas a part of the lodestar calculation itself. We also holdthat the district court should have used forum rates indetermining the reasonable hourly rate for the lodestarcalculation. Accordingly, we vacate and remand forfurther proceedings consistent with this opinion.B
 ACKGROUND
 The United States has waived its sovereign immunitywith respect to constitutional claims, including govern-ment takings claims arising under the Fifth Amendment.
See
28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(a)(2), 1491(a)(1). The United StatesCourt of Federal Claims has exclusive jurisdiction oversuch claims where the amount in controversy is greaterthan $10,000, § 1491(a)(1) (the “Tucker Act”), but shares jurisdiction with the district courts where the amount incontroversy does not exceed $10,000, § 1346(a)(2) (the
 
BYWATERS
v.
US
 3
“Little Tucker Act”). In actions brought under the Tucker Act or the Little Tucker Act in which a plaintiff isawarded compensation for the taking of property, theUniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acqui-sition Policies Act of 1970 (“URA”) provides for the recov-ery of “such sum as will in the opinion of the court or the Attorney General reimburse such plaintiff for his reason-able costs, disbursements, and expenses, including rea-sonable attorney . . . fees, actually incurred because of such proceeding.” 42 U.S.C. § 4654(c).
1
 This case involves takings compensation claimsbrought by appellants against the United States. On May23, 2000, following the transfer of their compensationclaims to the United States District Court for the EasternDistrict of Texas, Plaintiff-Appellant Ashburn Bywatersand other named plaintiffs (collectively, “appellants”),represented by counsel based in Washington, DC, filed anamended class action complaint on behalf of themselvesand all others similarly situated, alleging that they werethe owners of interests in land constituting part of arailroad corridor (the “Chaparral rail corridor”) that hadbeen converted for trail use by the Interstate CommerceCommission pursuant to the National Trails System Act
1
42 U.S.C. § 4654(c) provides, in its entirety: “Thecourt rendering a judgment for the plaintiff in a proceed-ing brought under section 1346(a)(2) or 1491 of Title 28,awarding compensation for the taking of property by aFederal agency, or the Attorney General effecting a set-tlement of any such proceeding, shall determine andaward or allow to such plaintiff, as a part of such judg-ment or settlement, such sum as will in the opinion of thecourt or the Attorney General reimburse such plaintiff forhis reasonable costs, disbursements, and expenses, in-cluding reasonable attorney, appraisal, and engineeringfees, actually incurred because of such proceeding.”

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