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United States District Court, Southern District of New York

September 20, 2000


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


By Order and Final Judgment, dated August 14, 2000 ("Order"), the Court approved, among other things, the instant class action settlement and awarded Plaintiffs' counsel attorneys' fees ($900,000) equal to 20% of the Settlement Fund as well as reimbursement of expenses ($136,593.37) — for a total of $1,036,593.37. Plaintiffs' counsel now moves, pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed.R.Civ.P.") and Local Civil Rule 6.3, for reconsideration of that portion of the Order that declined to award them an additional $600,000 in attorneys' fees or 33 1/3% ($1.5 million) of the Settlement Fund.*fn1

For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' counsel's motion for reconsideration is denied.


In this Judicial Circuit the standard for granting a Rule 59(e) motion "is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied." Ursa Minor Ltd. v. Aon Financial Products, Inc., 2000 WL 1279783 at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sept.8, 2000) (citation omitted). See also Range Road Music, Inc. v. Music Sales Corp., 90 F. Supp.2d 390, 391-92 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (Rule 59(e) "motions must be narrowly construed and strictly applied in order to discourage litigants from making repetitive arguments on issues that have been thoroughly considered by the court"); Roark v. City of Hazen, 189 F.3d 758, 761 (8th Cir. 1999) ("[a] district court has broad discretion in determining whether to grant a motion for postjudgment relief . . .") The Court recognizes "that reconsideration of a previous order is an extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources." Wendy's Int'l, Inc. v. Nu-Cape Construction, Inc., 169 F.R.D. 680, 685 (M.D.Fla. 1996). See also Range Road Music, Inc., 90 F. Supp.2d at 392 ("limitation on motions for reconsideration is to ensure finality and to `prevent the practice of a losing party examining a decision and then plugging the gaps of the lost motion with additional matters'") (citation omitted); Pennsylvania Insurance Guaranty Association v. Trabosh, 812 F. Supp. 522, 524 (E.D.Pa. 1992) ("[m]otions for reconsideration should be granted sparingly because of the interests in finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources"). The instant application does not justify reconsideration.

The premise underlying the Court's Order, respectfully, is that too many lawyers (43) and related staff, from too many law firms (7), billed too many hours (4,612.50) at substantial rates (some in excess of $500 per hour), for too little result (i.e., the drafting of two complaints; the defense of two motions to dismiss; and the negotiation for the Class of a $4.5 million Settlement Fund or approximately $0.38 per share), to justify an award in excess of $900,000 in attorneys' fees plus $136,593.37 in expenses. The fees and expenses which have been awarded — in excess of $1 million — are, in the Court's view, quite substantial and fair. The Court reached its determination after carefully reviewing numerous briefs and affidavits.*fn2 The Court also held a hearing on June 28, 2000. See Transcript.

Plaintiffs' counsel have now submitted additional information to the Court, seeking to supplement and clarify previous submissions. For example, Plaintiffs' counsel explains that three of the attorneys who billed time to this case were elevated from associate to partner during the pendency of the case; thus, some of their hours were billed when they were associates.*fn3

Having reviewed Plaintiffs' counsel's "new" submissions, the Court believes that the total award of $1,036,593.37 — $900,000 in attorneys' fees plus $136,593.37 in expenses — is reasonable, fair and appropriate compensation for Plaintiffs' counsel. The new submissions do not change the fact that: (i) the results achieved by Plaintiffs' counsel were relatively modest; (ii) Plaintiffs' counsel did not engage in any formal discovery and (essentially) defended two motions to dismiss; and (iii) many lawyers billed many hours at high rates in order to achieve a relatively modest result. See Order at 21-22, 32-36. That the Court helped bring the two sides together on this matter to reach a settlement — saving additional hourly fees — in no way detracts from the Court's view that a fee award of $1.5 million (whether analyzed by the percentage of the fund, lodestar, or any other method) is — simply — too high.

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