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WILLIAMSBURG FAIR HOUS. COMM. v. NEW YORK CITY HOUS. AUTH.

United States District Court, S.D. New York


September 9, 2005.

WILLIAMSBURG FAIR HOUSING COMMITTEE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY, et al., Defendants, and UNITED JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS OF WILLIAMSBURGH, INC., et al., Intervenor-Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge

OPINION

In an opinion dated March 31, 2005, the Court granted the plaintiffs in this case a partial award of attorneys' fees from the New York City Housing Authority ("NYCHA"). See Williamsburg Fair Hous. Comm. v. New York City Hous. Auth., No. 76 Civ. 2125, 2005 WL 736146 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2005) (the "Opinion"). The relevant facts and procedural history of this case are set forth in the Opinion, familiarity with which is assumed.

Plaintiffs have moved pursuant to Rule 59(e), Fed.R.Civ.P., and Local Civil Rule 6.3 for reconsideration of the Opinion's calculation of their award of attorneys' fees on the grounds that the calculation was improperly conducted and that it overlooked a supplemental affirmation that was submitted on November 1, 2004. This motion was submitted on May 3, 2005 and it was marked as fully submitted without oral argument on May 18, 2005.

  For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part, and upon reconsideration, the total amount of attorneys' fees to which plaintiffs are entitled is determined to be $201,836.25.

  Rule 59(e) provides that "[a]ny motion to alter or amend a judgment shall be filed no later than 10 days after entry of the judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Local Civil Rule 6.3 provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

A notice of motion for reconsideration or reargument of a court order determining a motion shall be served within ten (10) days after the entry of the court's determination of the original motion, or in the case of a court order resulting in a judgment, within ten (10) days after the entry of the judgment. There shall be served with the notice of motion a memorandum setting forth concisely the matters or controlling decisions which counsel believes the court has overlooked. . . .
Local Civ. R. 6.3 (emphasis in original).

  Motions to alter or amend judgments under Rule 59(e) and for reconsideration under Local Civil Rule 6.3 are evaluated under the same standard. See Word v. Croce, No. 01 Civ. 9614 (LTS), 2004 WL 434038, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2004); Williams v. New York City Dep't of Corr., 219 F.R.D. 78, 83 (S.D.N.Y. 2003); Griffin Indus., Inc. v. Petrojam, Ltd., 72 F. Supp. 2d 365, 368 (S.D.N.Y. 1999). On a motion made pursuant to either rule, "`the moving party must demonstrate controlling law or factual matters put before the court on the underlying motion that the movant believes the court overlooked and that might reasonably be expected to alter the court's decision.'" Word, 2004 WL 434038, at *2 (quoting Parrish v. Sollecito, 253 F. Supp. 2d 713, 715 (S.D.N.Y. 2003)); see also Williams, 219 F.R.D. at 83. Alternatively, "`reconsideration may be granted to correct clear error, prevent manifest injustice or review the court's decision in light of the availability of new evidence.'" Word, 2004 WL 434038, at *2 (quoting Parrish, 253 F. Supp. 2d at 715).

  Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate any basis for reconsideration of the analytical steps engaged in by the Court to calculate the proper attorneys' fees in this case. Rather, they merely have rehashed arguments considered and rejected in the underlying motion. Furthermore, it should be noted that the Opinion granted plaintiffs leave to submit additional records and documentation concerning their entitlement to attorneys' fees. No additional documentation was submitted.

  However, the Opinion failed to consider a supplemental affirmation submitted by the plaintiffs on November 1, 2004. This supplemental affirmation purports to document work performed by plaintiffs' counsel subsequent to the filing of the initial fee application. The affirmation indicates that: (1) Alan Levine ("Levine") did 123.25 additional hours of compensable work; Foster Maer ("Maer") did 35 additional hours of compensable work; and (3) Leon Friedman ("Friedman") did 29.75 additional hours of compensable work.

  The Second Circuit has stated that "any attorney — whether a private practitioner or an employee of a nonprofit law office — who applies for court-ordered compensation . . . must document the application with contemporaneous time records." New York State Ass'n for Retarded Children v. Carey, 711 F.2d 1136, 1148 (2d Cir. 1983). "`Attorney affidavits which set forth all charges with the required specificity but which are reconstructions of the contemporaneous records satisfy the rationale underlying Carey. . . .'" Cruz v. Local Union No. 3 of the IBEW, 34 F.3d 1148, 1160 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting David v. Sullivan, 777 F. Supp. 212, 223 (E.D.N.Y. 1991)).

  Most of the time records supporting the supplemental fee application are impermissibly vague. For example, of the 41 separate time entries submitted by Levine, 19 merely state "reply brief" or "outline reply brief." Discounting these and other impermissibly vague entries, Levine has identified 9.0 additional hours of compensable time, to which the previously established rate of $375 per hour shall be applied.

  Of the 15 time entries submitted by Maer in the supplemental affirmation, only two — those for December 2 and 5 of 2003 — were sufficiently specific. The other entries relied on over-generic description such as "reply brief" and "review draft . . ." Discounting impermissibly vague entries, Maer has identified 4.5 additional hours of compensable time, to which the previously established rate of $375 per hour shall be applied.

  Although certain of the time entries submitted for Friedman were impermissibly vague (i.e., those for December 2, 2003 and June 17, 2004), his records were generally more detailed than those that have been submitted for Levine and Maer in connection with this case. Discounting impermissibly vague entries, Friedman has identified 24.25 additional hours of compensable time. Since Friedman's credentials and past experience are equivalent to those of Levine and Maer, the previously established rate of $375 per hour billing rate shall be applied to his work.

  Based on the foregoing, it is determined that the supplemental affirmation identified $14,156.25 of additional attorneys' fees to which plaintiffs are entitled. The Court had previously determined that plaintiffs were entitled to a total of $187,680. That total is hereby increased to $201,836.25, which shall be paid by NYCHA to the defendants within twenty (20) days of entry of this order.

  It is so ordered.

20050909

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