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SOCIETY FOR GOOD WILL TO RETARDED CHILDREN

November 17, 1983

SOCIETY FOR GOOD WILL TO RETARDED CHILDREN, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Mario M. CUOMO, as Governor of the State of New York, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINSTEIN

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

WEINSTEIN, Chief Judge:

 Plaintiffs have obtained extensive relief in this class action challenging conditions and practices at Suffolk Developmental Center. Society for Good Will to Retarded Children, Inc. v. Cuomo, 572 F. Supp. 1300 (E.D.N.Y. 1983). They now move for counsel fees pursuant to the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976. 42 U.S.C. § 1988.

 Although a hearing on this matter would have provided helpful insights into the relevant realities of current law practice and its economics, this motion is decided on written submission on the request of all parties. Cf. Williams v. Alioto, 625 F.2d 845, 849 (9th Cir.1980) (per curiam) (no requirement of evidentiary hearing for section 1988 fee determination), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 1012, 101 S. Ct. 1723, 68 L. Ed. 2d 213 (1981); Konczak v. Tyrrell, 603 F.2d 13, 19 (7th Cir.1979) (affidavits and briefs are adequate to decide fee issue), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 1016, 100 S. Ct. 668, 62 L. Ed. 2d 646 (1980); City of Detroit v. Grinnell Corp., 495 F.2d 448, 469-70 (2d Cir.1974) [Grinnell I] (in equitable fund cases the "court should typically take pains to allow a complete airing of all objections to a petitioner's fee claim").

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiffs filed this action in August of 1978. There followed numerous motions and hearings and a twenty-one day trial in 1982.see Society for Good Will to Retarded Children, 572 F. Supp. at 1353, for a detailed procedural history. The docket sheet's 296 entries provide some indication of the enormous work required of counsel. More than fifty witnesses were heard and over 300 exhibits received.

 During the entire litigation Mr. Murray B. Schneps has represented plaintiffs. He was plaintiffs' sole counsel until March 1982, approximately one month before the start of trial. At that time Mr. Michael S. Lottman joined him as trial counsel.

 Mr. Schneps is a sole practitioner with his office in Manhattan. He has been practicing law for twenty years. For the last fourteen years he has worked extensively in litigation involving the legal rights of the handicapped. Among other cases, Mr. Schneps participated in the Willowbrook litigation. New York State Association for Retarded Children, Inc. v. Carey, 393 F. Supp. 715 (E.D.N.Y.1975).

 Mr. Lottman is also experienced in this type of litigation. He serves as a hearing master for the Federal District Court in Philadelphia for the Penhurst case. Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital, 612 F.2d 84 (3rd Cir.1979), rev'd and remanded, 451 U.S. 1, 101 S. Ct. 1531, 67 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1981), on remand, 673 F.2d 647 (3rd Cir.1982). He was admitted to the bar in 1969 and for the past ten years has concentrated his practice in the field of the legal rights of the handicapped, especially mentally retarded persons.

 Both Mr. Schneps and Mr. Lottman represented their clients with extraordinary skill and tenacity. This case was strongly contested by the State of New York. In the preliminary stages the state was represented by the well known New York firm of LeBouef, Lamb, Leiby and MacRae. During the trial defendants were represented by three or more Assistant Attorney Generals.

 II. PREVAILING PARTY

 In civil rights actions "the Court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs." 42 U.S.C § 1988. "The purpose of section 1988 is to ensure "effective access to the judicial process' for persons with civil rights grievances." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 103 S. Ct. 1933, 1937, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40 (1983) (quoting H.R.Rep. No. 94-1558, p. 1 (1976)). Plaintiffs are the prevailing parties. They have obtained substantial relief from this Court on almost all issues. See Society for Good Will to Retarded Children, 572 F. Supp. 1300 (E.D.N.Y.1983). The threshold statutory requirement that they prevail on some aspect of their claim for relief has been met. See Hensley v. Eckerhart, supra, 103 S. Ct. at 1939.

 III. COMPUTATION OF FEES

 The statute requires fixing of a "reasonable attorney's fee". 42 U.S.C. § 1988. Computation begins with a determination of the number of orders reasonably expended by the prevailing party's counsel; that number is then multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 103 S. Ct. 1933, 1939, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40; Cohen v. West Haven Bd. of Police Commissioners, 638 F.2d 496, 505 (2d Cir.1980); City of Detroit v. Grinnell Corp., 560 F.2d 1093 (2d Cir.1977) (Grinnell II) ("lodestar" approach); City of Detroit v. Grinnell Corp., 495 F.2d 448 (2nd Cir.1974) (Grinnell I). See generally 2 M. Derfner & A. Wolf, Court Awarded Attorney Fees P16 (1983). The Court may then adjust this figure to compensate counsel for factors such as risk, quality of representation and results obtained. See Hensley v. Eckerhart, 103 S. Ct. at 1940; New York Association for Retarded Children, Inc. v. Carey, ("NYSARC"), 711 F.2d 1136, 1153 (2d Cir.1983).

 Based on the legislative history of section 1988 the Supreme Court has indicated that the following factors should be considered in determining a fee:

 (1) the time and labor required;

 (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions;

 (3) the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;

 (4) the preclusion of employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case;

 (5) the customary fee;

 (6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent;

 (7) time limitations imposed by the client or the ...


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