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LUCIANO v. OLSTEN CORP.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


May 14, 1996

MARY ANN LUCIANO, Plaintiff, against THE OLSTEN CORPORATION, FRANK N. LIGOURI, GORDON J. BINGHAM and MARTIN GELERMAN, Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPATT

MEMORANDUM DECISION and ORDER

 SPATT, District Judge.

 In this gender discrimination in employment action, the plaintiff Mary Ann Luciano (the "plaintiff" or "Luciano"), moves for an award of attorneys fees and costs, pursuant to § 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(k). Familiarity with the procedural history and facts of this case as set forth in the Court's prior decisions is presumed.

  DISCUSSION

 A. Prevailing party

 "The general 'American Rule' is that the prevailing party in federal court litigation is not entitled to recover legal fees incurred in the conduct of that litigation." United States v. 110-118 Riverside Tenants Corp., 5 F.3d 645, 646 (2d Cir. 1993) (citing Alyeska Pipeline Serv. Co. v. Wilderness Soc'y, 421 U.S. 240, 247, 44 L. Ed. 2d 141, 95 S. Ct. 1612 (1975)). However, the statute governing employment discrimination actions provides:

 

In any action or proceeding under this subchapter the court, in its discretion may allow the prevailing party, other than the Commission or the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee (including expert fees) as part of the costs, and the Commission and the United States shall be liable for costs the same as a private person.

 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k); see also Fisher v. Vassar College, 70 F.3d 1420, 1453 (2d Cir. 1995) ("only a 'prevailing party' may recover attorneys fees and costs in a civil rights action").

 On November 9, 1995, following a month-long trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Luciano and awarded her damages in the following amounts: compensatory damages of $ 150,714.00 for back pay including salary and bonuses, emotional distress damages in the sum of $ 11,400.00, other expenses in the sum of $ 17,713.00 and punitive damages in the sum of $ 5,000,002.00. In a Memorandum Decision dated January 27, 1996, as amended by the Court's Order dated January 29, 1996, 1996, the Court (1) denied the defendants' motion pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 50 for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial, finding that the verdict with regard to liability and damages was supported by the evidence; (2) denied the defendants' motion to vacate the punitive damage award, but reduced the $ 5,000,002.00 sum to the statutory cap of $ 300,000.00, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(3)(D); and (3) granted the plaintiff's motion for prejudgment interest. The verdict, which favored the plaintiff on all claims, clearly establishes that the defendants' conduct with regard to the plaintiff's employment violated rights secured by Title VII and the New York Human Rights Law. Based on the favorable outcome that the plaintiff achieved on each cause of action, the Court finds that the plaintiff is a prevailing party in this action and is entitled to attorneys fees and costs. Accordingly, the Court will determine the appropriate award.

 B. Calculation of attorney's fees The plaintiff's counsel sets forth the following figures in support of her claim for legal fees incurred in prosecuting the case to its favorable conclusion: Janice Goodman 755.30 hours @ $ 325/hour = $ 245,472.50 Loren Gesinsky 1,321.91 hours @ $ 175/hour = $ 231,334.25 Jill Raymond 85.00 hours @ $ 75/hour = $ 6,382.50 Total 2,162.21 hours $ 483,189.25

19960514

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