The opinion of the court was delivered by: Motley, District Judge.
Plaintiff, Angela Robinson, filed this action against her
former employer, Instructional
Systems, Inc., alleging discrimination on the basis of race
and/or national origin, in the terms of her employment and
termination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the New York State
Human Rights Law, Executive Law § 296, and the Administrative
Code of the City of New York § 8-107(a). In a decision dated
March 19, 1999, Judge Wood granted summary judgment in favor of
defendants as to all claims except Ms. Robinson's retaliatory
termination claim. A jury trial was held on the retaliatory
termination claim from January 4, 2000 until January 7, 2000. The
jury found for the plaintiff, awarding her $23,000.00 in damages.
In a January 25, 2000 ruling, the court awarded prejudgment
interest, denied plaintiff's request for punitive damages and
determined that plaintiff is entitled to attorneys' fees and
costs for work related to the retaliatory termination claim. An
amended judgment in the amount of $30,607.47 was filed in the
Clerk's Office on February 14, 2000.
On May 2, 2000, a hearing on attorneys' fees and costs was held
before this court. Plaintiff claims that she is entitled to
$131,393.75 in attorneys' fees and paralegal fees, plus $3,406.59
in costs. Defendant argues that plaintiff is entitled to
$10,202.46 in attorneys' fees and costs, one-third of the
$30,607.37 awarded to plaintiff in this action.
II. Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
The court, in its January 25, 2000 Memorandum Opinion, has held
that plaintiff is the prevailing party and is therefore entitled
to attorneys fees under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). Once the
entitlement to an attorneys' fee award is established, the court
must calculate a "reasonable fee" amount to award the prevailing
party. Although the amount of attorneys' fees awarded "is a
factual issue whose resolution is committed to the discretion of
the district court" Saulpaugh v. Monroe Community Hospital,
4 F.3d 134, 145 (2d Cir. 1993), the Second Circuit has established
a two-step approach for calculating such awards. First, the court
must calculate the lodestar figure by "`multiplying the number of
hours expended by each attorney involved in each type of work on
the case by the hourly rate normally charged for similar work by
attorneys of like skill in the area.'" Cohen v. W. Haven Bd. of
Police Comm'rs, 638 F.2d 496, 505 (2d Cir. 1980) (quoting
Detroit v. Grinnell Corp., 560 F.2d 1093, 1098 (2d Cir. 1977)).
In calculating the lodestar figure, "a different rate of
compensation may well be set for different types of litigation
tasks." Id. As for the second step, the court may adjust the
lodestar figure "upward or downward to take account of such
subjective factors as the risk and complexity of the litigation
and the quality of the representation." Id.
"Counsel for the prevailing party should make a good faith
effort to exclude from a fee request hours that are excessive,
redundant, or otherwise unnecessary, just as a lawyer in private
practice ethically is obligated to exclude such hours from his
fee submission." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 103
S.Ct. 1933, 76 L.Ed.2d 40 (1983). Hence, "[t]he district court .
. . should exclude from this initial fee calculation hours that
were not `reasonably expended.'" Id. (citations omitted).
Additionally, time records should enable the court to determine
whether or not the amount of time spent on particular tasks was
reasonable. "The burden is on counsel to keep and present records
from which the court may determine the nature of the work done,
the need for it, and the amount of time reasonably required;
where adequate contemporaneous records have not been kept, the
court should not award the full amount requested." F.H. Krear &
Co. v. Nineteen Named Trustees, 810 F.2d 1250, 1265 (2d Cir.
Plaintiffs' attorneys claim that 418.20 hours of Louie
Nikolaidis' time was spent working on the retaliatory termination
claim. The court finds that this request is excessive and is
based on vague time records.
Of the 418.20 hours requested, 250.75 hours include time spent
on the following: (1) drafting the complaint, (2) client
conferences (3) drafting trial-related documents, (4) discovery,
(5) in-court appearances, (6) depositions and (7) drafting
summary judgment papers. Much of the time spent on discovery,
client conferences, drafting the complaint, in-court appearances,
depositions and summary judgment papers was indubitably spent on
the unsuccessful claims, as these originally comprised the
majority of issues involved in the lawsuit. Although the court
acknowledges that to some degree, the work on unsuccessful claims
is related to the retaliatory termination claim, this does not
justify reimbursing plaintiff for all of the time spent on the
Furthermore, Mr. Nikolaidis is an experienced attorney, with 15
years experience in employment discrimination litigation. This
case involved a typical Title VII claim. The trial took only four
days and involved the examination of one witness. Thus, 250.75
hours would be an excessive amount of time for an attorney of Mr.
Nikolaidis' experience to spend in preparation for the trial.
Therefore, the court finds that only 50% of these hours, 125.375
hours could have been reasonably related to the retaliation
As for the remaining 167.45 hours, the time entries are too
vague for this court to determine whether the amount of time
spent on particular tasks was reasonable. Many of these entries
involve descriptions such as "preparation for trial" and
"telephone call with . . ." or "correspondence with . . ." Such
entries are simply insufficient to allow the court to determine
the nature of the tasks performed and the amount of time
reasonably required to perform those tasks. Thus, to account for
these vague time entries, the court ...