funds to make payments "including, payment for the employment of services of such . . . legal . . . personnel, as may be reasonably required to establish, administer and maintain a well-rounded program of apprenticeship and training. . . ." Id. (quoting JATP Trust Agreement, Art. III, P 3.3). Respondents appear to acquiesce to Petitioners' request for attorneys' fees by stating that "the Respondents have never contested and will not now contest any payments for legal fees which Petitioners make to Mr. DiMattia from the JATP Trust Fund." Id.
It is a settled equitable principle that a court may, in its discretion, spread the cost of a lawsuit among those who benefit therefrom. Morrissey v. Segal, 526 F.2d 121, 128 (2d Cir. 1975) (citing Mills v. Electric Auto-Lite, 396 U.S. 375, 24 L. Ed. 2d 593, 90 S. Ct. 616 (1970)). Moreover, courts have both the power and the duty to fashion remedies in trust cases that are most advantageous to the trust's participants and beneficiaries, and most conducive to effectuating the purposes of the trust. Restatement (Second) of Trusts, § 205 cmts. a-b (1959). This principle extends to the payment of attorneys' fees incurred for the purpose of conferring a benefit on the trust's participants and beneficiaries. See Morrisey, 526 F.2d at 128-29; Weidlich v. Comley, 267 F.2d 133, 134 (2d Cir. 1959); Carter v. Montgomery Ward, 76 F.R.D. 565, 570 (E.D. Tenn. 1976).
In the instant case, this Court found that Petitioners brought their petition to this Court in order to break the JATP Trustees' impasse regarding an issue of trust administration. Citrin, 911 F. Supp. 673, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214, 1996 WL 11190, at *3. As discussed above, this Court further found that both the purpose and the result of Petitioners' petition was to allow the JATP to resume its stated mission and to benefit those whom the JATP specifically was designed to benefit--the elevator industry, and present and future employees of the elevator industry. Moreover, as Respondents claim, the JATP Trust Agreement authorizes the JATP Trustees to use and apply the JATP Trust Fund "to pay, or provide for the payment of all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the . . . administration . . . of the Plan and Trust Fund, including, but not limited to payment for the employment or services of such . . . legal . . . personnel as may be reasonably required to establish, administer, and maintain [the JATP]." (JATP Trust Agreement Art. III, P 3.3); (Respondents' Memo at 1). Accordingly, this Court finds that Petitioners' fee award may be satisfied from the JATP Trust Fund.
C. Calculation of Attorney's Fees
According to the Second Circuit, "once a district court determines that a party has prevailed upon a motion for attorneys' fees, it must calculate what constitutes a reasonable attorneys' fee." Grant v. Martinez, 973 F.2d 96, 99 (2d Cir. 1992). The determination of what constitutes reasonable attorneys' fees is governed by the "lodestar" approach. Blanchard v. Bergeron, 489 U.S. 87, 94, 103 L. Ed. 2d 67, 109 S. Ct. 939 (1989); Grant, 973 F.2d at 99. Under this approach, "the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation is multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate for attorneys and paraprofessionals." Grant, 973 F.2d at 99; see Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983). In the event the amount of attorneys' fees is contested, "the party advocating the reduction of the lodestar amount bears the burden of establishing that a reduction is justified." United States Football League v. National Football League, 887 F.2d 408, 413 (2d Cir. 1989).
To establish the number of hours reasonably expended on a litigation, the party seeking an award of attorney's fees "must document the application with contemporaneous time records" that specify "the date, the hours expended, and the nature of the work done." New York State Ass'n for Retarded Children, Inc. v. Carey, 711 F.2d 1136, 1148 (2d Cir. 1983); see Lewis v. Coughlin, 801 F.2d 570, 577 (2d Cir. 1986). Courts recognize that "attorney affidavits which set forth all charges with the required specificity but which are reconstruct ions of the contemporaneous records satisfy [this requirement] and suffice to permit recovery of attorneys' fees," as do "typewritten transcriptions of the original handwritten time sheets filled out by attorneys. . . ." David v. Sullivan, 777 F. Supp. 212, 223 (E.D.N.Y. 1991); see Johnson v. Kay, 742 F. Supp. 822, 837 (S.D.N.Y. 1990); Carrero v. New York City Housing Auth., 685 F. Supp. 904, 908-909 (S.D.N.Y. 1988) Lenihan v. City of New York, 640 F. Supp. 822, 824 (S.D.N.Y. 1986)
An attorney's reasonable hourly rate is determined by analyzing the "'prevailing market rates in the relevant community.'" Miele v. New York State Teamsters Conference Pension & Retirement Fund, 831 F.2d 407, 409 (2d Cir. 1987) (quoting Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895, 79 L. Ed. 2d 891, 104 S. Ct. 1541 (1984)). In this circuit, a district court determines prevailing market rate by examining the parties' submissions regarding "the rate 'prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation.'" Miele, 831 F.2d at 409 (quoting Blum, 465 U.S. at 896 n.11). A judge may also "rely in part on the judge's own knowledge of private firm hourly rates in the community." Miele, 831 F.2d at 409.
In the instant case, Petitioners have submitted the declaration of their lead counsel, Michael J. DiMattia, Esq. ("DiMattia"), a copy of the "computer printouts which are made and kept for each of [his] clients, and contemporaneously entered in the ordinary course of business," and a listing of the hourly rates for the attorneys and paralegals who worked on the instant case. (Declaration of Michael J. DiMattia, Esq., ("DiMattia Declaration") Exs. A & B (Jan. 19, 1996).) Petitioners seek attorneys' fees and disbursements in the amount of $ 15,396.48 for the initial petition submitted to this Court and $ 1,610.00 for the cost of preparing the instant application and supporting papers for a total of $ 17,006.48. (DiMattia Declaration at 2 & Ex. A; Petitioners' Application at 12.) They assert that their attorneys' expended 69.00 hours reviewing the JATP Trust Agreement, conferring with opposing counsel, researching and drafting the petition to request a court-appointed impartial umpire, and preparing supplemental submissions to this Court. (DiMattia Declaration Ex. A.) They also state that their attorneys spent 7.80 hours preparing the instant fee application. Id. Petitioners further provide the following hourly rates for the attorneys and paralegals who worked on their case: Michael J. DiMattia--$ 250.00 per hour; Donald S. Krueger--$ 200.00 per hour; paralegals--$ 80.00 per hour. Id. Ex. B.
Respondents contest the adequacy of Petitioners' documentation of Petitioners' counsels' billing information and fee calculation. (Declaration of Norman Rothfeld, Esq., ("Rothfeld Declaration") 1-2 (Jan. 31, 1996).) Respondents claim that, following Respondents' counsels' examination of the time sheets submitted by DiMattia, Respondents' counsel called DiMattia and "asked him whether he kept a diary." Id. at 1. According to Respondents' counsel, DiMattia replied that he did keep a diary. Id. When Respondents' counsel then asked whether he could inspect this diary, DiMattia stated that he would "get back" to Respondents' counsel, but never did. Id. By presenting these facts to this Court, Respondents suggest that Petitioners' failure to produce contemporaneous diary records is fatal to their claim for attorney's fees.
Respondents also dispute four entries in the billing records that Petitioners submitted in support of their application for attorneys' fees. They challenge four, unspecified time entries that document phone conversations between the parties' respective counsels. Id. Respondents claim that these conferences "did not relate to the instant proceeding but related to arbitration proceedings which Local 3 has scheduled against members of the Elevator Industries Association. . . ." Id.
Petitioners contest these claims. They argue that Respondents' argument that Petitioners' fee application is deficient because it does not attach actual time diary entries "is simply wrong and should be rejected." (Letter from Michael J. DiMattia, Esq., to the honorable David N. Edelstein, United State District Judge 2 (Feb. 2, 1996) (on file with Clerk of the Southern District of New York).) Petitioners also explain that nine of the time sheet entries reflect telephone conferences between Petitioners' and Respondents' respective counsels, and assert that all nine conferences concerned the instant petition. Id. at 2. They further highlight that Respondents identify neither which four of these nine entries they challenge, nor the individual attorney from Petitioners' counsel's office who was involved in the conversation. Id. at 1-2.
Having reviewed Petitioners' submission in light of the parties' competing claims and the applicable case law, this Court finds that Petitioners' merit the $ 17,006.48 attorneys' fees they request for three reasons. First, despite Respondents' claims to the contrary, this Court finds that Petitioners' documentation of their attorneys' fees satisfies this circuit's contemporaneous-record requirement. Petitioners did not the submit the original, handwritten time sheets filled out by their attorneys on a daily basis, but submitted instead the computer-generated billing records that Petitioners' law firm contemporaneously creates in the ordinary course of business. Courts routine1y receive and accept computerized transcriptions of contemporaneous time records from firms whose billing records are maintained in computers, and the law is clear that such records satisfy the contemporaneous-record requirement. David, 777 F. Supp. at 723; Lenihan, 640 F. Supp. at 824.
Second, this Court finds that Petitioners' attorney reasonably expended 69.00 hours preparing the underlying petition, and 7.80 hours preparing and the instant application for attorneys' fees. As mentioned above, Petitioners submitted detailed records of the amount of time that their attorneys and paralegals spent performing the various tasks necessary to file Petitioners' petition and application for fees with this Court. This Court has reviewed these records and finds that they are reasonable in view of the complex facts of the instant case, the intricate statutory framework of ERISA and the LMRA and the lengthy collective bargaining agreement and JATP Trust Agreement that govern the parties relationship. Respondents only challenge to Petitioners' submission is that four entries in these records do not relate to the instant proceeding.
Respondents, however, have not met their burden of demonstrating that a reduction of Petitioners' fee award is justified, USFL v. NFL, 887 F.2d at 413, because they not only fail to specify the dates of the entries they challenge, but also fail to provide any evidence in support of this claim. A review of Petitioners' records also reveals no evidence supporting Respondents' claim. Accordingly, this Court finds that the figures that Petitioners submitted to this Court constitute a reasonable amount of time expended on this litigation.
Third, this Court finds that the paralegal and attorneys' hourly rates charges by Petitioners' attorneys are reasonable. Petitioners provided this Court with a list of the hourly rates charged by the two attorneys and the paralegals who worked on Petitioners case. Respondents have neither contested these figures nor addressed the issue of what is the "the rate 'prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation."' Miele, 831 F.2d at 409 (quoting Blum, 465 U.S. at 896 n.11). According to the Second Circuit, this Court may determine reasonable hourly rates based on this Court's knowledge of the prevailing community rates. Id.; see Algie, 891 F. Supp. at 895; Helbrans v. Coombe, 890 F. Supp. 227, 233-34 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); Loper v. New York City Police Dept., 853 F. Supp. 716, 719-20 (S.D.N.Y. 1994). Courts in this circuit have noted that rates such as those charged by Petitioners' lawyers and paralegals in the instant case are reasonable. See Helbrans, 890 F. Supp. at 233-34; Loper, 853 F. Supp. at 719-20; Stewart v. Barclay's Bus. Credit, 860 F. Supp. 150, 151 (S.D.N.Y. 1994), aff'd 54 F.3d 766 (1994); David, 777 F. Supp. 212. Accordingly, this Court finds that the hourly rates charged by Petitioners' law firm in the instant case are reasonable.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT Jay Nadelbach, Esq. is appointed impartial umpire to resolve the parties deadlocked dispute regarding the commencement of a new first-year apprenticeship class; and
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT Petitioners' application for attorneys' fees in the amount of $ 17,006.48 is GRANTED: and
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT Petitioners' attorneys' fees be paid from the JATP Trust Fund.
DATED: New York, New York
March 14, 1996
David N. Edelstein