The opinion of the court was delivered by: WHITMAN KNAPP
WHITMAN KNAPP, Senior District Judge.
This case arises out of a claim of gender discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000(e)-2, 2000e(k). By Stipulation and Order dated January 24, 1992 the parties settled all claims, and defendants agreed to pay plaintiff the reasonable costs, expenses and attorney's fees she incurred in connection with this action. The stipulation expressly provided that the determination as to what amount is reasonable with respect to such costs would be left to the court.
By papers filed April 29, plaintiff seeks an award of attorney's fees in the amount of $ 77,275
plus costs of $ 603.75. Defendants oppose that portion of the application which seeks $ 77,275 in attorney's fees; they do not contest the reasonableness of plaintiff's statement of costs. On July 14 we heard oral argument. For the reasons that follow, we substantially approve plaintiff's application for attorneys' fees, with certain modifications.
The claim underlying this action was formally asserted on August 24, 1988 when plaintiff, a female police officer employed by the New York City Police Department ("NYPD"), filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging that pursuant to a policy of the NYPD she had been discriminated against on the basis of gender in the terms and conditions of her employment. On July 5, 1989 the EEOC issued plaintiff a right to sue letter, and on September 28, 1989 the complaint in this action was filed.
The relief sought included monetary damages for wages denied plaintiff in connection with the failure to promote, and retroactive seniority status in the position of sergeant to the date she would have been eligible for that position absent the existence of defendants' allegedly discriminatory policy. In addition, the complaint sought relief in the form of orders: (1) declaring the above-described policy of the NYPD unconstitutional; (2) compelling defendants to accelerate the dates plaintiff could take examinations for the positions of lieutenant and captain, respectively; and (3) directing defendants to promote plaintiff to these positions upon successfully passing such examinations in the order or priority plaintiff would have achieved had defendants' allegedly unconstitutional actions not deprived her of the opportunity to take the examinations at an earlier date. With respect to plaintiff's promotion, if any, to lieutenant, the complaint sought an order directing defendants to reimburse her for salary and other benefits relating to this position, "in an amount to be determined when the effective date of plaintiff's promotion to lieutenant is ascertained". Compl., at 20, P 4. It also included a claim for punitive damages in the amount of $ 1,000,000.
By the January 1992 settlement agreement, in addition to consenting to reimburse plaintiff for her reasonable costs and attorney's fees, defendants agreed to provide the following relief: (1) plaintiff will have her date of promotion to the position of sergeant adjusted for all purposes from September 20, 1988 to May 26, 1988, and she will receive $ 3,245 in back pay, plus interest, in connection with this adjustment; (2) in the event plaintiff takes and passes the next scheduled lieutenant's examination, she will be evaluated for promotion to that position in the order to which she would have been entitled had she been eligible to take Exam No. 5609 [the lieutenant's examination given at an earlier date]; (3) in the event plaintiff is appointed to the position of lieutenant, her date of appointment will be adjusted to the date she would have been appointed had she taken and passed Exam No. 5609, and this retroactive appointment will include seniority and all other benefits, but not back pay; (4) in the event plaintiff takes and passes the next scheduled captain's examination, plaintiff will be awarded similar relief with respect to appointment to that position. In addition, the settlement includes a provision to the effect that all references to plaintiff's initial ineligibility for the position of sergeant will be deleted from her permanent records. With respect to the complaint's claim for an order declaring the policy at issue in this suit unconstitutional, defendants inform that in October 1988 such policy was abandoned.
To date the judicial proceedings in this matter have been limited. Immediately following the first conference, we referred the action to Magistrate Judge Lee to oversee discovery. See December 19, 1989 Order Of Reference. On February 15, 1990 plaintiff served interrogatories and a request for documents. During the course of the next twelve months the parties attended seven conferences before Judge Lee. Plaintiff informs that the first six of these conferences were dedicated to settlement discussions.
During the sixth conference, on December 5, 1990, Judge Lee instructed defendants to respond to plaintiff's outstanding interrogatories. Thereafter plaintiff raised certain objections to defendants' responses, and on March 19, 1991 plaintiff moved for an order to compel defendants to answer certain questions that had been propounded. By Memorandum Endorsement dated April 18, 1991 Judge Lee granted this motion "in all respects". See 4/18/91 Mem. End.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), defendants then filed objections to Judge Lee's April 18th Order, and on July 22 we heard oral argument on such objections.
With the consent of the parties, we adjourned consideration of the merits of this dispute pending additional settlement discussions. Thereafter we held two additional settlement conferences, one on August 1 and the second on November 11. As previously stated, on January 24, 1992 the parties filed the above-described stipulation of settlement.
At all times plaintiff has been represented by Joseph P. Baumgartner, Esq., a solo practitioner whose office is in Long Island and who has ten years of experience in civil rights litigation. In support of the instant fee application Baumgartner filed an affidavit asserting that his previous civil rights experience has been as a defendant's lawyer, and that it has been his practice to charge private clients an amount between $ 200 and $ 250 per hour for his services. He requests compensation in the amount of $ 250/hr. for the time spent in connection with this suit. With respect to the number of hours claimed, Baumgartner submits contemporaneous time records which include the date, a description of the task performed, and an estimate -- to the nearest tenth of an hour --of the amount of time expended on each task performed in this litigation. Although these records reflect a total of 360.4 hours,
Baumgartner asserts that pursuant to the exercise of billing discretion the instant fee application seeks reimbursement for only 309.1 hours.
In relevant part, the hours for which compensation is here claimed, can be broken down as follows: n6
Task Total Hours Claimed
EEOC Complaint 3
Preparation of Complaint 24
Filing of Complaint 3.1
Review of Defendants Answer 1.7
Settlement Negotiations (including travel time) 78.25
Interrogatories: First Round 74.3
Discovery (including Additional Interrogatories 40.75
Client Conferences 14.2
General Case Research 10.6
Fee Application 50.5
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