named several defendants does not argue the contrary.
"Where a plaintiff has obtained excellent results, his attorney should
recover a fully compensatory fee." Id. at 435, 103 S.Ct. 1933. The
results in this case were clearly favorable to plaintiff. The Town's
original zoning ordinance and the amendment thereto were both deemed
unconstitutional as a matter of law. Furthermore, plaintiff was awarded
compensatory damages in the amount of $4,308. (Damages Tr. at 51.)
Accordingly, plaintiff should recover a fully compensatory fee which
includes all hours expended on the litigation, and should not be reduced
simply because he failed to prevail on every claim.
2. Limited Success
Even where the claims are interrelated, if the plaintiff achieved a
limited success, the lodestar amount may be considered excessive.
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 436, 103 S.Ct. 1933. The focus surrounds the results
obtained. See id. The lodestar may be reduced when the plaintiff received
only nominal damages in the underlying civil action. See Lilly, 910 F.
Supp. at 952 (citing Grant, 973 F.2d at 101; United States Football
League v. National Football League, 887 F.2d 408, 411-12 (2d Cir.
1989)). The district court has broad discretion in reducing the amount of
the award in order to reflect the plaintiffs limited success. See
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 436-37, 103 S.Ct. 1933; Farrar, 506 U.S. at 115, 113
S.Ct. 566; Lilly, 910 F. Supp. at 953. However, we conclude that no
reduction in fees is warranted in this case.
Defendant argues that the fee award should be decreased because the
Court awarded plaintiff only $4,308 in damages. However, there is no
proportionality requirement under § 1988; the amount of attorneys'
fees do not have to relate to the amount of damages recovered by
plaintiff. See Riverside v. Riviera, 477 U.S. 561, 574-75, 106 S.Ct.
2686, 91 L.Ed.2d 466 (1986) ("Because damages awards do not reflect fully
the public benefit advanced by civil rights litigation, Congress did not
intend for fees in civil rights cases, unlike most private law cases, to
depend on obtaining substantial monetary relief."); Grant, 973 F.2d at
102 ("A presumptively correct `lodestar figure' should not be reduced
simply because a plaintiff recovered a low damage award.") (quoting Cowan
v. Pradential Ins. Co. of America, 935 F.2d 522, 526 (2d Cir. 1991));
DiFilippo v. Morizio, 759 F.2d 231, 235 (2d Cir. 1985) ("We believe a
reduction made on the grounds of a low award to be error unless the size
of the award is the result of the quality of representation."). A rule of
proportionality would contravene the intent of Congress, because it would
deny civil rights plaintiffs, with potentially small damages, full
redress in the courts. See Riverside, 477 U.S. at 576, 578, 106 S.Ct.
However, the Supreme Court has warned that if the award is "technical"
or "de minimus" the prevailing party should be denied attorney's fees.
Farrar, 506 U.S. at 113, 115, 113 S.Ct. 566 (holding that the award of $1
after 10 years of litigation where the plaintiff demanded $17 million in
damages constituted nominal damages and nothing more than the mere
satisfaction that a federal court agreed with the plaintiff that his
rights had been violated). In Lilly, this Court stated that a jury awarq
of $11,500, when the plaintiff sought $6 million in damages, was neither
technical nor de minimus. 910 F. Supp. at 953. In this case, three of the
Town's laws were declared unconstitutional and plaintiff was granted
$4,308 in damages. Plaintiff did not seek any specified amount in damages
but left the determination in the sole discretion of the Court. (Supp.
Complt. Part V.) This award is neither de minimus nor technical. Although
a court may adjust the fees sought by considering the limited success in
the underlying action, we conclude that the attorneys' fees in this case
are reasonable. "[T]he importance
of plaintiffs victory should not be belittled by focussing [sic] solely
on the monetary measure of her judgment." Lilly, 910 F. Supp. at 953
b. No Reduction in Fee for Lack of Success on Claim Asserted Against
As stated above, the unsuccessful claim asserted against Grifo was not
completely unrelated to the successful claims asserted against the Town.
The Court also finds that plaintiff did achieve substantial success when
we declared that all of the Town's relevant laws were unconstitutional.
In addition, plaintiffs counsel did not expend a vast amount of time on
the claims asserted against the individual defendants. The only reference
to Grifo in the Complaint concerned several paragraphs which: described
him as the one who served plaintiff with a subpoena regarding the
violation of the Town's zoning ordinance; alleged that he was being sued
in this individual capacity for enforcement of the subpoena; and
anticipated a qualified immunity defense. (Supp.Complt. ¶¶ 5, 14,
25, 39.) Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment included only a small
section in reference to this claim in plaintiffs reply memorandum. (Pl.
Reply Mem. Supp. Summ. J. at 9-11.) Therefore, no reduction in the
lodestar is warranted.
B. Other Factors that Should Decrease the Lodestar Figure
Defendant contends that its lack of maliciousness should mitigate any
award and cites this Court's Opinion and Order on liability where we
stated that "Defendants' laudable efforts to preserve the attractiveness
of the town's residential areas, enhance the homeowners' enjoyment of
their property, attract new residents and maintain property values
deserve all the support the courts can properly give." Knoeffler, 87 F.
Supp.2d at 333.
Good faith on the part of a losing defendant does not qualify as a
circumstance which would free the defendant from § 1988 liability.*fn4
See generally 2 MARTIN A. SCHWARTZ & JOHN E. KIRKLIN, SECTION 1983
LITIGATION: STATUTORY ATTORNEY'S FEES § 3.12 (3d ed. 1991)
(recognizing that although this argument is usually raised by a defendant
enforcement official sued in his official capacity, lower courts are
recognizing that a defendant's good faith will not insure against the
payment of attorneys' fees). The purpose behind § 1988 was to "ensure
`effective access to the judicial process.'" Hensley, 461 U.S. at 429,
103 S.Ct. 1933 (quoting H.R. REP. NO. 94-1558, p. 1 (1976)). Both the
Senate and House Reports refer to twelve factors that should be
considered in determining the amount of the fee:
(1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and
difficulty of the questions; (3) the skill requisite
to perform the legal service properly; (4) the
preclusion of employment by the attorney due to
acceptance of the case; (5) the customary fee; (6)
whether the fee is fixed or contingent; (7) time
limitations imposed by the client or the
circumstances; (8) the amount involved and the results
obtained; (9) the experience, reputation, and ability
of the attorneys; (10) the "undesirability" of the
case; (11) the nature and length of the professional
relationship with the client; and (12) awards in
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 430 n. 3, 103 S.Ct. 1933 (citing Johnson v. Georgia
Highway Express, Inc.,