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CHILDRESS v. TAYLOR

November 3, 1993

ALICE CHILDRESS, Plaintiff,
v.
CLARICE TAYLOR, PAUL B. BERKOWSKY, THE MOMS COMPANY, and BEN CALDWELL, Defendants.


HAIGHT, JR.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR.

HAIGHT, District Judge:

 This protracted and bitterly contested copyright infringement litigation reaches its terminal stage with two applications for attorney's fees, equally bitterly contested. The applications lie under 17 U.S.C. § 505. One is made on behalf of defendant Bruce Mailman against plaintiff Alice Childress, Mailman having obtained a dismissal of plaintiff's claim against him. The other is made on behalf of Childress against defendants Clarice Taylor, Paul B. Berkowsky, The Moms Company, and Ben Caldwell, against whom Childress obtained an injunction against infringement and statutory damages. Familiarity with all prior opinions of this Court and the Court of Appeals is assumed.

 The Mailman Fee Application

 I awarded Mailman costs including an attorney's fee in an opinion dated February 22, 1991. The amounts were unquantified at that time. Mailman now applies for attorney's fees in the amount of $ 30,959.50 and expenses in the amount of $ 3,243.10, for a total of $ 34,202.60. Childress contends that under the doctrine of unclean hands, Mailman is entitled to recover nothing. In the alternative, Childress argues for substantial reductions in the amounts claimed.

 Plaintiff's second argument advanced under the "clean hands" rubric is that Mailman's claimed attorney's fees are not properly supported by the documents submitted. That is true, at least in part; but it does not justify disallowance of those portions of the claimed fees that are properly supported.

 The affidavit in support of the claim is submitted by Allan E. Mayefsky, Esq., a Colton partner who had the case in charge. The affidavit claims compensation for 128 hours spent by Mayefsky; 22 hours by Ronald E. Feiner, another partner; time spent by three paralegals, Ann Bastis (6.5 hours), John Komendowski (7.8 hours), and Renate Koble (10.3 hours); and time spent by a student law clerk, Mae Ng (3.8 hours). The Mayefsky affidavit does not, as it should, set forth the hourly rates claimed for each of these individuals. One is required to calculate the rates by examining the two invoices submitted by the Colton firm to Mailman which comprise Ex. C to the affidavit. The first is dated December 20, 1988, and covers services through November 20. 19 hours of "partner's time" are charged at $ 225 an hour; 69.7 hours of "associates' time" at $ 175 an hour; and 5.3 hours of "paralegal' time" at $ 65 an hour. The invoice does not name the individuals. The second invoice, dated December 5, 1990, covers the period from November 21, 1988 through November 29, 1990. It specifies 3 hours by Feiner at $ 250; 58.3 hours by Mayefsky at $ 200; and, at the hourly rate of $ 75, 5 hours by Bastis, 10.3 hours by Koble, and 7.8 hours by Komendowski. Plaintiff deduces from these documents that Mayefsky's time was billed at $ 175 an hour through November 20, 1988 and at $ 200 per hour thereafter. Brief at 13. Mayefsky's reply affidavit does not contradict that deduction, which seems plausible, and I accept it.

 The Mayefsky affidavit is also accompanied by contemporaneous time sheets which are said to support the claim. They do so only in part. Significant amounts of claimed time are unaccompanied by any description of the particular services being performed. Mailman's reply brief says at 8 that "since this case was commenced in 1987, some of the earlier records unfortunately contain only a computer summary of the hours devoted to the matter by counsel as well as the paralegal staff. With respect to some of those early hours, there is no breakdown of the particular work performed." This is an inadequate excuse. In 1983 the Second Circuit decided New York Association for Retarded Children, Inc. v. Carey, 711 F.2d 1136 (2d Cir. 1983). Judge Newman wrote at 1148:

 
Hereafter, any attorney--whether a private practitioner or an employee of a nonprofit law office--who applies for court-ordered compensation in this Circuit for work done after the date of this opinion must document the application with contemporaneous time records. These records should specify, for each attorney, the date, the hours expended, and the nature of the work done.

 Counsel were on notice after Carey that work sheets must include specific descriptions of the work done or the time would not be compensable.

 Plaintiff does contend, however, that the claim should be drastically reduced by limiting Mailman's right to recovery to the work performed by his attorneys which related solely to the point of law upon which Mailman won his motion to dismiss. There is no substance to that argument. Plaintiff chose to include Mailman as an infringing defendant against whom she sought full recovery. Mailman's counsel were obligated to participate in all aspects of the defense. It would have been unprofessional for the Colton firm to repose such confidence in its motion to dismiss as to fail to attend the key depositions. The fact that counsel for the other defendants took the laboring oar at those depositions does not alter Mailman's entitlement to be represented at them. Plaintiff chose to sue Mailman, who incurred predictable ...


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