a summary judgment motion made by the Board of Education, the Court declines to parse out what portion of that defense contributed to Nu-Life's successful claims. It would be impracticable, if not impossible, for the Court to attempt to determine how, if at all, Nu-Life's response to the summary judgment motion ultimately affected its successful verdict. As the Supreme Court recognized, "the plaintiff's claims for relief will [often] involve a common core of facts or will be based on related legal theories. Much of counsel's time will be devoted generally to the litigation as a whole, making it difficult to divide the hours expended on a claim-by-claim basis" ( Hensley, supra, at p. 435).
The defendants would have the Court eliminate from consideration all time expended on the summary judgment motion or attempt to trace back from the verdict what portion of that work contributed to the success on the RICO conspiracy claim. The Court rejects this invitation.
Trapanotto and Dobrowolski object to Nu-Life's application for costs for failing to link that portion of the application to its successful claims. The costs and disbursements portion of the application also involves vague and nondescript billing entries. As such, Nu-Life's request in the amount of $ 26,308.48 is also reduced by a factor of 30%, to a net sum of $ 18,415.94.
d. Final Judgment Under Rule 54(b)
During the trial, the court granted the motion by Nu-Life to amend the complaint to add a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all the defendants. That cause of action remains to be determined. By letter dated May 14, 1992, defendants Trapanotto and Dobrowolski request that final judgment be entered against them on Nu-Life's RICO conspiracy claim in order to expedite their appeal. Similarly, by letter dated May 15, 1992, the defendant Board of Education requests that final judgment be entered as to the Terminate portion of the judgment in order expedite the Board's recovery on its counterclaim. By telephone conference held on Monday, June 1, 1992, the court denied these requests. Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) provides that:
"When more than one claim for relief is presented in an action . . . or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct the entry of a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only upon an express determination that there is no just reason for delay and upon the express direction for the entry of judgment."
The determination as to whether to grant Rule 54(b) certification is within the discretion of the district court (see Hogan v. Consolidated Rail Corp., Nos. 91-7625, 91-7627, 1992 WL 74419 at p. *2 [2d Cir. April 6, 1992]). "The district court's discretion, however, is to be exercised sparingly in light of the "'historic federal policy against piecemeal appeals'" ( Hogan, supra, at p. *2 quoting Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. General Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 9, 64 L. Ed. 2d 1, 100 S. Ct. 1460 ).
The Supreme Court emphasized that at the heart of a decision on a Rule 54(b) certification motion is "'the interest of sound judicial administration'" ( Ginett v. Computer Task Group, Inc., Nos. 91-7768, 91-7792, 1992 WL 83272 at p. *9 [2d Cir. April 21, 1992] quoting Curtiss-Wright, supra, at p. 8). Unless the interests of such judicial administration and efficiency would be served, the motion should be denied.
In light of the foregoing rules of law and in consideration of the tangled history of this litigation, it is clear that this case does not present a situation in which the interests of judicial administration would be served by allowing the entry of multiple judgments so as to encourage separate appeals. In view of the complexity and longevity of this litigation and given the approaching date for jury selection on the remaining Section 1983 issues, it is, in the Court's view, inappropriate to certify the results of the jury verdict of March 10, 1992, as a final judgment against the defendants Trapanotto and Dobrowolski or against the plaintiff Terminate.
With respect to Nu-Life's request for attorney's fees, as a result of unsubstantiated billing and work inappropriately attributed to the successful RICO conspiracy claims, the sum of $ 53,448.50 is deducted from the requested fee of $ 303,235.25 leaving a net balance of $ 249,786.75. In addition, this balance of $ 249,786.75 is further reduced by a factor of 30% as result of, among other things, Nu-Life's submission of vague and non-contemporaneous time records. Accordingly, Nu-Life is awarded a total net fee in the amount of $ 174,850.
Nu-Life's request for $ 26,308.48 in costs and disbursements is also be reduced by 30% as a result of its failure to particularize the manner in which the expenses relate to the successful claims. Accordingly, Nu-Life is awarded costs in the amount of $ 18,415.94.
Therefore, the total fee and disbursements allowed to the plaintiff Nu-Life as a prevailing party with regard to its successful RICO verdict, is the sum of $ 193,265.94.
Finally, "since federal policy generally disfavors 'piecemeal' appellate litigation . . ." ( Ginett v. Computer Task Force, supra, at p. *6) and there is nothing exceptional in this case that would require an immediate appeal or would expedite the resolution of the case, the motion by Trapanotto and Dobrowolski, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 54(b) to enter a partial judgment, is denied.
As to the request of the Board defendants for costs under Local Rule 11(c), the Court declines to rule on that issue until a final judgment has been entered which includes all the claims in the case, including the Nu-Life's section 1983 claims that have yet to be adjudicated. Additionally, the Board's request that final judgment be entered against the plaintiff Terminate is denied.
Finally, all parties are directed to select a jury on September 14, 1992 at 9:30 a.m., before the United States District court for the Eastern District of New York at the Uniondale Courthouse, Courtroom A, in connection with Nu-Life's sole remaining Section 1983 claims.
Dated: Uniondale, New York
June 16, 1992
Arthur D. Spatt
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