favor of Local 338 RWDSU ("the Union") pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 185 and 9 U.S.C. § 10. Petitioner claimed that the arbitrator based her decision on matters not entered into evidence. The petitioner, however, had agreed to be bound by the arbitrator's decision.
As there was no transcript of the arbitrator's bearing to support petitioner's allegation, Judge Nickerson granted summary judgment in favor of the respondent on September 2, 1994, confirming and enforcing the arbitration award. Respondent was consequently awarded attorney's fees and Judge Nickerson referred the matter to the undersigned to hear and report on the issue of the appropriate amount of costs and attorney's fees. A more in depth discussion of the circumstances surrounding the arbitration dispute can be found in Judge Nickerson's decision. See Memorandum and Order of Honorable Eugene H. Nickerson, dated December 28, 1994. Friedman & Levine billed a total of 191 hours concerning this matter and requested a sum of $ 31,135.00 for attorney's fees plus $ 451.80 for costs incurred. Petitioner objects to the amount of attorney's fees requested.
Petitioner alleges that respondent's attorney's fees are not realistic, "are disproportionate to the value of the subject matter, [and that] . . . the services could have been performed in a more efficient manner." See Affidavit in Opposition to Respondent's Request for Attorney's Fees, dated March 31, 1995 ("Opposition"). The petitioner argues that the respondent did not submit original time slips, that duplication of time by attorneys should not be compensated, and that the fees requested do not bear a proportionate relationship to the value of the proceeding at bar. Petitioner further questions the amount of time expended by Friedman & Levine attorneys on various stages of this litigation.
ORIGINAL TIME SLIPS:
Petitioner notes that Friedman & Levine has not submitted "original" time sheets in its computation of hours billed. It is not clear what petitioner means by "original", however I assume petitioner's contention is that the time slips submitted by respondent's counsel in support of the fee request were inadequate, and therefore not in accord with the mandate for contemporaneous time records in computing attorneys fees as set forth in New York Ass'n For Retarded Children, Inc. v. Carey, 711 F.2d 1136, 1154 (2d Cir. 1983). Attorneys at Friedman & Levine keep time records by directly inputting their hours worked into a computer system. A printout of this information has been submitted to the Court. See Declaration of Jennifer D. Weekley, dated September 23, 1994 and Supplemental Declaration of Jennifer D. Weekley, dated February 28, 1995. Chronological computer printouts satisfy the contemporaneous time record requirements of New York Ass'n for Retarded Children, Inc. v. Carey. See Pastre v. Weber, 800 F. Supp. 1120, 1125 (S.D.N.Y. 1991); Meriwether v. Coughlin, 727 F. Supp. 823, 826-27 (S.D.N.Y. 1989). Therefore petitioner's claim in this respect is meritless.
Petitioner also contends that Friedman & Levine's contemporaneous time records lack the detail necessary to determine the propriety of the requested attorney's fees. Contemporaneous time records should specify the date, hours expended and the nature of the work done by each attorney. Carey, 711 F.2d at 1148. This court had no problems in evaluating respondent's billing invoice as respondent's invoices were clearly labeled and dated. The invoices provided a clear description of the work performed, the time spent on the respective matter, the attorney who rendered services, and the date the services were performed. Indeed, petitioner's own affidavit challenging the amount of time spent by opposing counsel on each stage of this litigation is testament to the clarity of respondent's billing invoice.
Secondly, petitioner states that respondent should not be reimbursed where on two separate occasions two attorneys for the respondent billed for court appearances even though only one attorney addressed the court.
Petitioner cites Kipper v. Kipper, 151 A.D.2d 377, 542 N.Y.S.2d 617 (1st Dep't. 1989), as holding that duplication of time by attorneys is not compensable. Kipper however, held that the sending of two attorneys to a deposition was duplicative. Id. at 378. In the instant case, Friedman & Levine sent two attorneys not to a simple deposition, but rather for attendance at oral argument. The attorney at Friedman & Levine most familiar with this litigation and who addressed the court at oral argument, Jennifer Weekley, Esq., was at the time in her second year as a labor lawyer. I find nothing wrong with Friedman & Levine sending a more experienced attorney to lend guidance to Ms. Weekley at oral argument. See Seigal v. Merrick, 619 F.2d 160, 164 (2d Cir. 1980) (dicta showing reluctance in depriving a lawyer the aid of even one associate in court appearances). While duplicative hours are certainly not compensable, this is not an instance where staffing was unnecessary and resulted in duplicative charges. Compare United States v. Bedford Assoc., 548 F. Supp. 748, 752 (S.D.N.Y. 1982) (finding that work done by fifteen full time associates, five summer associates and various legal assistants on a simple mortgage foreclosure was unnecessary and thus led to duplicative charges). Therefore, I would allow the hours billed by the respective attorneys who attended oral argument.
RATIO OF REQUESTED COMPENSATION TO AMOUNT IN DISPUTE:
Petitioner contends that respondent should not be compensated $ 30,000.00 for attorney's fees when the amount in dispute was only $ 11,000.00. Notwithstanding the fact that a correct "lodestar" figure should not be reduced because of a low damage award, Cowan v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, 935 F.2d 522, 526 (2d Cir. 1991), it is important to note that petitioner initiated this action over the disputed sum. To permit a reduction in attorney's fees because of the small sum at stake in the instant case would effectively create a disincentive for a respondent to fully litigate this action. Thus, I find this argument has no merit.
REASONABLE TIME EXPENDED BY FRIEDMAN & LEVINE
The amount of an award of reasonable attorney's fees is often determined by using the lodestar approach set forth in Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983). The lodestar approach calculates attorney's fees by multiplying the number of hours that the prevailing party's attorneys reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate. Pastre v. Weber, 800 F. Supp. 1120, 1123 (S.D.N.Y. 1991), citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983). The lodestar amount can be augmented or truncated depending upon other factors such as the "the risk of the litigation, the complexity of the issues, and the skill of the attorneys." New York Ass'n For Retarded Children, Inc. v. Carey, 711 F.2d 1136, 1140 (2d. Cir. 1983). See also Pennsylvania v. Dutch Valley Citizens' Counsel for Clean Air, 483 U.S. 711, 729-731, 97 L. Ed. 2d 585, 107 S. Ct. 3078 (1987)(Lodestar amount may be reduced or enhanced by the circumstances of the particular litigation).
Petitioner does not challenge any of the hourly rates charged by the various attorneys of Friedman & Levine associated with this litigation. In any case, I find that for purposes of computing the lodestar figure, the hourly rates charged by Friedman & Levine ($ 140-$ 250 per hour)
are reasonable and comparable to that of other New York City law firms. See Ramos v. Patrician Equities Corp., No. 89 Civ. 5370 (TPG), 1993 WL 58428, at *29 (S.D.N.Y. March 3, 1993)(Attorney hourly billing rates between $ 150-$ 425 per hour are in line with other New York City firms In addition the court held that hourly billing rates between $ 98 and $ 280 are modest). In a particular case, the hourly rates charged by counsel may be reasonable, however the time devoted to the litigation may not be. Anschutz Petroleum Marketing Corp. v. E.W. Saybolt & Co., Inc., 112 F.R.D. 355 (S.D.N.Y. 1986), citing Tedeschi, v. Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co., Inc., 579 F. Supp. 657, 663-664 (S.D.N.Y. 1984), aff'd, 757 F.2d 465 (2d Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 850, 88 L. Ed. 2d 122, 106 S. Ct. 147 (1985).
Petitioner's final argument hinges on the reasonableness of the time expended by Friedman & Levine on various aspects of the litigation. A court is allowed to reduce a request for attorney's fees to an amount it considers reasonable. Grant v. Grenadier Realty Corp., No. 84 Civ. 4433 (WK), 1986 WL 8223, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. March 17, 1986), aff'd, 810 F.2d 1160 (2d Cir. 1986)(court only awarded defendant's counsel $ 1,000.00 instead of the requested $ 4,621.25 because the court felt the request was excessive), citing Northern American Foreign Trading Corp. v. Zale Corp., 83 F.R.D. 293 (S.D.N.Y. 1979). Any assessment of fees against a non-prevailing party must be fair and reasonable depending upon the circumstances of this case. See Tedeschi, 579 F. Supp. 657 (the court awarded $ 10,000.00 in fees instead of the requested $ 49,235.75 in a case that did not go to trial, but involved numerous motions requiring time for research, preparation of briefs and court appearances). See also Browning v. Peyton, 123 F.R.D. 75, 79 (S.D.N.Y. 1988); Mid-Hudson Legal Services v. G & U, Inc., 465 F. Supp. 261, 270-71 (S.D.N.Y. 1978); Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983)(counsel should make a good faith effort to exclude excessive, redundant or unnecessary hours from the fee request).
As a rule of fairness, when counsel fees are to be charged to the opposing party, services should be charged at the rate of the available person who can most cheaply qualify to complete the task: cost-conscious clients would expect such practices. Browning, 123 F.R.D. at 79.