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Ford v. Tenn. Senate

United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division

August 15, 2007, Decided; August 15, 2007, Filed

No. 06-2031-BV

Opinion

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON PLAINTIFFS' RENEWED MOTION FOR AN AWARD OF ATTORNEY FEES, COSTS, AND EXPENSES PURSUANT TO RULE 54

Before the court is the December 28, 2006 motion of the plaintiffs, Senator Ophelia Ford, William Martin Scruggs, Paul F. Lowe, Gwendolyn Ellerson, Louvenia Hampton, and Naomi B. Tate (collectively the "plaintiffs"), pursuant to Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for an award of attorney fees, costs, and expenses pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973l(e) and 1988(b),  [*3] which were incurred in bringing their claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1971, 1973, and 1983 against the defendants, the Tennessee Senate (the "Senate") and Lieutenant Governor John S. Wilder ("Lt. Governor Wilder") in his official capacity as Speaker of the Senate (collectively the "defendants"). 1 The defendants filed a response in opposition to the motion.

The matter was referred to the U.S. Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation. A hearing was held on June 20, 2007. For the following reasons, it is recommended that the renewed motion for attorney fees, costs, and expenses be DENIED.

PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT

Plaintiff Ophelia Ford ("Senator Ford") was the Democratic nominee, running against Republican nominee Terry Roland, in a special election for the vacant District 29 seat in the Senate. (2d. Am. Compl. 4, P 1.) The special election was held on September 15, 2005, and Senator Ford defeated Roland by a thirteen-vote margin.  [*4] (2d. Am. Compl. 5, P 2.) Roland contested the special election results by filing a complaint in the Senate on September 23, 2005, 2 asserting that the special election should be voided because of voting irregularities. 3 (2d. Am. Compl. 5, PP 3-5.) Once the complaint was filed, Lt. Governor Wilder, who is also the Speaker of the Senate, referred the matter to a special election contest committee (the "Special Ad Hoc Committee"), chaired by Senator Mike Williams, to conduct an investigation into Roland's allegations and make recommendations to the Senate. (2d. Am. Compl. 6, P 8.)

On January 17, 2006, before  [*5] the Special Ad Hoc Committee completed its investigation, Senator Ron Ramsey filed a proposed resolution with the Senate, S. Res. 7002A, 104th Gen. Assem., 1st Extraordinary Sess. (Tenn. 2006) ("Resolution 7002"), requesting that the Senate void the special election. (2d. Am. Compl. 8, P 14.) The Senate, sitting as a Committee of the Whole, voted in favor of sending proposed Resolution 7002 to the Senate for a full senatorial vote. (2d. Am. Compl. 9, P 15.) Accordingly, the Committee of the Whole's recommendation was set to be presented to the Senate for a final vote on January 19, 2006, the date when the Senate was to reconvene. (2d. Am. Compl. 9, P 15.)

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2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99081 *; 2007 WL 5659414

SENATOR OPHELIA FORD, WILLIAM MARTIN SCRUGGS, PAUL F. LOWE, GWENDOLYN ELLERSON, LOUVENIA HAMPTON, and NAOMI B. TATE, Plaintiffs, v. THE TENNESSEE SENATE (composed of SENATORS MAE BEAVERS, DIANE BLACK, JIM BRYSON, TIM BURCHETT, RUSTY CROWE, RAYMOND FINNEY, DAVID FOWLER, BILL KETRON, RANDY MCNALLY, JEFF MILLER, MARK NORRIS, CURTIS S. PERSON, JR., RON RAMSEY, STEVE SOUTHERLAND, JIM TRACY, MICHEAL R. WILLIAMS, JAMIE WOODSON, KATHRYN I. BOWERS, CHARLOTTE BURKS, STEPHEN I. COHEN, JERRY W. COOPER, WARD CRUTCHFIELD, THELMA HARPER, JOE M. HAYNES, DOUGLAS HENRY, ROY HERRON, DOUG JACKSON, TOMMY KILBY, ROSALIND KURITA, JAMES F. KYLE, JR., DON MCCLEARY, JOHN S. WILDER, and plaintiff OPHELIA FORD, all in their official capacity) and LT. GOVERNOR JOHN S. WILDER, in his official capacity, Defendants.

Subsequent History: Accepted by, in part, Rejected by, in part, Costs and fees proceeding at, Motion granted by Ford v. Tenn. Senate, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88068 (W.D. Tenn., Oct. 24, 2008)

Motion denied by Ford v. Tenn. Senate, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131928 (W.D. Tenn., Nov. 18, 2008)

Prior History: Ford v. Wilder, 469 F.3d 500, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 28939 (6th Cir.), 2006 FED App. 432P (6th Cir.) (6th Cir. Tenn., Nov. 22, 2006)

CORE TERMS

immunity, district court, attorney's fees, legislative immunity, special election, voting rights, declaratory judgment, sovereign immunity, plaintiffs', voting, prevailing party, Eleventh Amendment, voiding, award of attorney's fees, signing, voters, cause of action, proceedings, costs, declaratory relief, recommendation, ministerial, election, proper party, suits, prospective relief, official capacity, Renewed, prevail, Reply