be reimbursed in a total amount of $104,784.17.
B. Westlaw fees
While there is conflicting authority regarding the compensation
of computer research charges, this Court holds that Westlaw fees
are not attorneys' fees, but a separate non-reimbursable taxable
cost under 28 U.S.C. § 1920. See United States ex rel. Evergreen
Pipeline Constr. v. Merritt-Meridian Constr. Corp., 95 F.3d 153,
173 (2d Cir. 1996). An attorney's time spent performing
computerized research is properly compensable. However, the cost
of the computer service used in the research is no more
reimbursable than the cost of the West's Keynote Digests and the
volumes of the Federal Reporter and the Federal Supplement that
lawyers used to use (and many still use) to find authority and
research issues of law. Westlaw fees are simply an item of
overhead, and as such should be built into the fees charged,
rather than unbundled and reimbursed separately. Merritt
Meridian, 95 F.3d at 173; Sulkowska v. City of New York, No.
99 Civ. 4228(AGS), 2001 WL 428253 (S.D.N.Y. Apr.25, 2001);
Ciraolo v. City of New York, No. 97 Civ. 8208(RPP), 2000 WL
1521180 (S.D.N.Y. Oct.13, 2000); TriStar Pictures, Inc. v.
Unger, 42 F. Supp.2d 296 (S.D.N.Y. 1999); Fink v. City of New
York, 154 F. Supp.2d 403 (E.D.N.Y. 2001).
There are cases in this district that have allowed the shifting
of computer research fees. See Anderson v. City of New York,
132 F. Supp.2d 239, 247 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) ("costs for computer
research . . . are considered part of attorneys' fees because in
theory, an attorney will complete a research assignment faster
with the aid of computerized databases than without such aides");
Gonzalez v. Bratton, 147 F. Supp.2d 180, 212 (S.D.N.Y. 2001)
(noting that "Second Circuit doctrine holds that [computerized
research] expenses are recoverable in an application for
attorneys' fees") (internal quotations and citations omitted);
Lawson ex rel Torres v. City of New York, No. 99 Civ.
10393(LAP), 2000 WL 1617014, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Oct.27, 2000)
("computer research is properly charged as an attorney's fee
rather than as a separately taxable cost"); Schaefer v. State
Ins. Fund, No. 95 Civ. 0612(JFK), 1999 WL 281342 at *5 (S.D.N Y
Apr.14, 1999) (allowing $239.22 for Lexis-Nexis research costs).
I am unpersuaded by this reasoning — especially the notion that
use of Westlaw saves attorney time. Whether one reads a case from
a book or a screen, the attorney's time is the compensable
element — not the medium that delivers the message.
This Court believes that the Merritt Meridian court meant
what it said when it said that the cost of an attorney's time
spent doing research is properly compensable but that the cost of
the research tool was not a separately reimbursable taxable cost.
95 F.3d at 173. If a firm chooses to unbundle Westlaw fees and
make them a separate profit center — instead of incorporating the
costs into their hourly rates — that system may work well for
them in terms of paying clients, but it does not help them with
fee applications under § 1988 in the post-Merritt Meridian
world. Accordingly, plaintiff's request for $40,744.65 in Westlaw
fees is denied.
II. Final Award of Fees
I start by summarizing the findings made and conclusions
reached in the October 19 oral opinion:*fn3
1. There are three separate periods to consider in this case.
All three groups of defendants (City, County and State) were in
the case at the beginning. The City settled with plaintiffs on
May 3, 1999, and ceased to be as active a litigant as the other
defendants some months earlier than that date. The State settled
with plaintiffs on June 4, 1999. The County defendants continued
to litigate vigorously until July 27, 2001, on the eve of trial.
The fees must be apportioned among the various defendant groups
based primarily on their period of participation in active
litigation, and secondarily (in the case of the City) on the
degree of their participation. Accordingly, I find that fees
should be apportioned as follows:
For Period 1 (9/7/97-5/3/99): 25% to the City, 37.5%
to State, 37.5% to the County
For Period 2 (5/4/99-6/4/99): 50% to each of the
State and County
For Period 3 (6/5/99-8/5/01): 100% to the County
2. Before calculating the Period 3 fees chargeable to the
County, I am subtracting $9,100 for cost of effecting the State
settlement, and the $1000 cost of effecting the City settlement.
The State and the City should pay these fees.
3. Attorney Marc Krum, who was engaged to try this case as
chief trial counsel, worked only in Period 3. Therefore, his fees
should be paid entirely by the County.
4. All attorneys' hourly rates as requested are reasonable and
appropriate for litigation of this magnitude in this area of the
country and lawyers of this skill level.
5. To factor out duplication of effort and vague time records,
I am reducing the amount requested for each legal professional
(lawyer, paralegal, litigation consultant) by 10% across the
6. Plaintiffs achieved an extraordinary result in this
litigation, for reasons stated in the oral opinion.
7. Fees are awarded as follows:
AS AGAINST THE CITY OF NEW YORK:
Grant and Eisenhofer, P.A. $67,367.97
AS AGAINST THE STATE OF NEW YORK:
Grant and Eisenhofer, P.A. $137,919.39
Lowey Dannenberg $3,000.00
Total Award: $140,919.39
AS AGAINST THE COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER:
Mr. Krum $90,045.00
Lowey Dannenberg $7,000.00
Grant and Eisenhofer $745,972.14
Total Award: $843,017.14
8. Expenses are awarded as follows: