The opinion of the court was delivered by: KNAPP
The question presented by defendant's post-trial motion for the award of attorney's fees and costs is whether this successful defendant in a Title VII action should be granted such an award against this employee-plaintiff who unsuccessfully contended that she had been denied promotion and had been subsequently fired on grounds of race. Concededly, discretion should be sparingly exercised in awarding attorney's fees and taxing costs against a Title VII plaintiff, as the entire legislative scheme embodied in that Title is to encourage persons aggrieved on racial grounds to come into court. See, Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, Inc. (1968) 390 U.S. 400, 402, 19 L. Ed. 2d 1263, 88 S. Ct. 964, U.S. Steel Corp. v. United States (W.D. Pa. 1974) 385 F. Supp. 346. However, this case presents an occasion for the exercise of such discretion.
Plaintiff was concededly denied promotion and she was concededly fired. Moreover, she had been active in filing complaints against her employer before the New York Human Rights Commission. The thrust of her claim was that all her troubles resulted from (a) racial discrimination and (b) retaliation for her activity in seeking legal redress for her alleged wrongs. After a two-day bench trial, I concluded that her testimony constituted an unmitigated tissue of lies; that no one had discriminated against her; and that the reason she was fired was that she had engaged in deliberately disruptive conduct* having nothing to do with the exercise of any constitutional or statutory right (but was motivated solely by spleen) and because she had defied reasonable attempts to control her activities. In the circumstances, I see no reason why Yeshiva University should be compelled to divert its funds to the defense of this vexatious lawsuit. U.S. Steel Corp. v. U.S., supra.
The counsel fees sought ($5000.00 for 120 hours of partner's time and 70 hours of associates' time) seems extremely moderate, in light of counsel's excellent performance. Moreover, it is undisputed that plaintiff is presently earning $25,000 a year, has no dependents and has paid no attorney's fees of her own to date. Also allowed are $182.36 for daily transcript and $448.00 for plaintiff's deposition, plus regular statutory costs. The $350.00 for the balance of the trial minutes is disallowed as presently unnecessary, without prejudice to a new application should such minutes be required for appeal.
Both parties have submitted proposed Findings of Fact and defendant has submitted proposed Conclusions of Law. Having carefully reviewed defendant's submissins, I find them to be in substantial accord with my view of the facts and the law. A copy of them is attached hereto as Exhibit A, with certain handwritten changes made by the Court. As amended by such handwritten changes, the said Exhibit A is hereby adopted as the Court's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law pursuant to F.R.C.P. 52(a). Such Findings and Conclusions shall be deemed supplemental to those made on the record in open court at the close of plaintiff's case.
With respect to plaintiff's proposed Findings, none of them are supported by references to the record and many are duplicative of material set forth in defendant's proposals. However, I have selected some which seem to me valid and which might be helpful to plaintiff in the event of an appeal. The proposals thus selected are set forth in Exhibit B, and are hereby adopted as supplemental Findings of Fact pursuant to R. 52(a).
With respect to plaintiff's proposed Findings 43 to 45 (not adopted), I simply note that, while the facts therein set forth may very well be true, I have no recollection of their having been incorporated in the record.
Dated: New York, New York