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AMATO v. CITY OF SARATOGA SPRINGS

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


January 20, 1998

PAUL AMATO, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SARATOGA SPRINGS, SARATOGA SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT, SERGEANT FLANAGAN, LT. LYNN THOMAS, POLICE CHIEF KENNETH KING, COMMISSIONER LEWIS J. BENTON, III, Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCAVOY

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

 I. BACKGROUND

 This action arises out of plaintiff Paul Amato's arrest and booking at the Saratoga Springs Police Department ("the Department") on May 26, 1994. Plaintiff alleged that while he was being booked, defendants Robert Flanagan and Lynn Thomas *fn1" used excessive force on him.

 After a four day jury trial, the jury found defendant Flanagan liable to Plaintiff for using excessive force during Plaintiff's booking and found defendant Thomas liable for failure to intercede. *fn2" The jury awarded Plaintiff $ 1 in nominal damages and found that punitive damages were warranted against defendant Flanagan. A second trial on the issue of punitive damages was held; the jury awarded Plaintiff $ 20,000 in punitive damages against defendant Flanagan. The Court, however, reduced the punitive damages award to $ 15,000.

 Plaintiff now moves for costs and attorneys' fees.

 II. DISCUSSION

 The Supreme Court has held that to determine the amount of "reasonable attorney's fees," the Court must first establish a "lodestar" figure by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended by the party's attorneys by a reasonable hourly rate. See Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 888, 79 L. Ed. 2d 891, 104 S. Ct. 1541 (1984); Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983). The operative term is "reasonable."

 A. Lodestar Figure - Reasonable Hours

 In order to recover attorneys' fees, the party must support the application with contemporaneous time records of work performed. See Lewis v. Coughlin, 801 F.2d 570, 577 (2d Cir. 1986); New York State Ass'n for Retarded Children, Inc. v. Carey, 711 F.2d 1136, 1148 (2d Cir. 1983). From these records the Court determines whether the hours spent on the litigation were "reasonable" so as to warrant full reimbursement.

 Defendants challenge the reasonableness of both the overall time spent by Plaintiff's attorney and the substance of much of the work performed during this litigation. Defendants also argue that Mr. Brickman's application is grossly inadequate and defective.

 To recover attorneys' fees, Mr. Brickman's time records must be made contemporaneously with the associated work. Lewis, 801 F.2d at 577. These records must also "specify, for each attorney, the date, the hours expended, and the nature of the work done." Carey, 711 F.2d at 1148. Such records are necessary so that the Court "may determine the nature of the work done, the need for it, and the amount of time reasonably required." F.H. Krear & Co. v. Nineteen Named Trustees, 810 F.2d 1250, 1265 (2d Cir. 1987).

 Even a cursory review of Mr. Brickman's affidavit demonstrates that he has submitted grossly inadequate billing records. To illustrate, the following are Mr. Brickman's claimed hours for September, 1996 (almost a year after he filed the Complaint), reprinted here in the exact format he submitted to the Court: September 1996 1 review research 4.5 1 review discovery response 1.5 2 review research 3 2 prepare deposition questions 2.5 3 review research 3.5 4 review research 4 5 prepare deposition questions 2 5 review research 4.5 6 review research 5 7 review research 5.5 8 review research 4.5 9 depositions 2 9 travel 1 9 review research 3.5 10 review file 2 10 review research 3 11 review deposition transcripts 3.5 11 review research 2.5 12 research 3 12 review research 3.5 13 review research 4 20 review deposition transcripts 2.5 20 review research 3.5 22 review research 7.5 23 review research 4 23 review discovery response 3.5 24 review research 2.5 25 review research 4.5 26 review research 3.5

19980120

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