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WHITE v. WHITE ROSE FOOD

February 7, 2000

STANLEY WHITE, ULYSSES BROWN, AND DONALD W. SWANSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHER PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
WHITE ROSE FOOD, A DIVISION OF DIGIORGIO CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Spatt, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND

The Court has previously described the facts in this case in its three published opinions and incorporates the factual recitations by reference in this decision.

Representing the prevailing party, counsel for the plaintiffs seek the sum of $436,396.12 in fees, and an additional sum of $2,098.68 for disbursements. The request for attorneys fees, including the "addendum to attorney fee application" and the affidavit in further support of attorney fee application dated February 4, 2000, is comprised of the following separate claims:

Leonard N. Flamm, Esq.: 284.9 hours at $325 per hour = $92,592.50 Norman Mednick, Esq.: 530.25 hours at $315 per hour = $167,028.50 Maria D. Beckman, Esq.: 68.1 hours at $215 per hour = $14,641.00 Eden M. Mauro, Esq. 90.1 hours at $185 per hour = $16,668.50 ____________________________________________________________________________________ Total hours: 973.35 Total fee requested: $290,930.75

In addition to the above calculations, the plaintiffs request a 50% enhancement due to the "substantial risks of contingent fee litigation." Thus, the total sum that the plaintiffs request in fees is $436,396.12 together with disbursements in the sum of $2,098.68.

Norman Mednick designated as "of Counsel" to the Law Offices of Leonard Flamm was the principal trial counsel for the plaintiffs. Leonard Flamm "second-seated" Mednick at all of the Court appearances and at the trial. Maria Beckman and Eden Mauro were associates in the Law Offices of Leonard Flamm and assisted with case preparation, depositions, court appearances, and the writing and editing of memoranda of law.

The defendant makes numerous challenges to the plaintiffs application for attorneys fees. The defendant argues that: (1) the hourly rates requested by the plaintiffs are not customary and they are excessive; (2) a 50% enhancement is inappropriate; (3) much of the time requested was excessive, vague, unreliable, unreasonable and duplicative; and (4) the plaintiffs request for costs should be reduced.

I. DISCUSSION

Because of the district court's familiarity with the quality of the representation and the extent of the litigation, the decision whether to award fees and the amount of fees awarded are issues generally confined to the sound discretion of the court. Gierlinger v. Gleason, 160 F.3d 858, 876 (2d Cir. 1998). The well-known formula for calculating attorney's fees is the "lodestar" method described in Pennsylvania v. Delaware Valley Citizens' Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 565, 106 S.Ct. 3088, 92 L.Ed.2d 439 (1986). Under this method, the Court makes an initial calculation of a lodestar amount by multiplying the number of hours reasonably spent on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 76 L.Ed.2d 40 (1983); LeBlanc-Sternberg v. Fletcher, 143 F.3d 748, 763-64 (2d Cir. 1998); Gierlinger, 160 F.3d at 876; Luciano v. Olsten Corp., 109 F.3d 111 (2d Cir. 1997).

In making the initial lodestar calculation, the Court finds that the hourly rates requested by the plaintiffs are excessive. The rate to be used in the calculation must be the rate "prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience, and reputation." Luciano, 109 F.3d at 111, (citing Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 896 n. 11, 104 S.Ct. 1541, 79 L.Ed.2d 891 [1984]). Although the plaintiffs have attached various affidavits to their motion from other attorneys with similar billable rates, the Court notes that the Second Circuit has recently upheld this Court's rates of $200 per hour for partners, $135 per hour for associates, and $50 per hour for paralegals. Savino v. Computer Credit, Inc., 164 F.3d 81, 87 (2d Cir. 1998); see also Luciano, 109 F.3d at 111-112 (collecting cases); Walz v. Town of Smithtown, 46 F.3d 162 (2d Cir. 1995); Cruz v. Local Union No. 3, Int'l. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 34 F.3d 1148, 1160 (2d Cir. 1994); Terminate Control Corp. v. Horowitz, 28 F.3d 1335 (2d Cir. 1994). Therefore, the Court will apply those rates in making the initial lodestar calculation. Although Mednick is Of Counsel to the Law Offices of Leonard N. Flamm, he served as lead counsel in this case. Therefore, in making the lodestar calculation, the Court will apply the $200 per hour rate for Mednick. With regard to Flamm, the Court will also apply the $200 per hour rate. As to Associates Beckman and Mauro, the Court will apply the $135 per hour rate.

Based on these findings, the Court determines that the initial lodestar calculation based on the reduced ...


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