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ACCESS 4 ALL, INC. v. PARK LANE HOTEL

December 7, 2005.

ACCESS 4 ALL, INC., a Florida not for profit corporation, and PETER SPALLUTO, Individually, Plaintiffs,
v.
PARK LANE HOTEL, INC., a New York Corporation, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES FRANCIS IV, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

The plaintiffs, Access 4 All, Inc. and Peter Spalluto, brought this action claiming that the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, owned by defendant Park Lane Hotel, Inc. ("Park Lane"), contained architectural barriers that prevented disabled persons from using its full range of services, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq. (the "ADA"). The parties ultimately entered a settlement agreement addressing a number of features of the property. The parties reserved for decision by the Court the plaintiffs' application for an award of attorneys' fees and costs and consented to refer this issue to me for final disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

The plaintiffs now move for an award of attorneys' fees of $67,056.50 and expert witness fees and costs of $11,349.41, based on the following hours and rates: Attorney Hours Rate Total

 Fuller, Fuller & Assoc.

  John P. Fuller 7.7 $425 $ 3,272.50

  Lawrence A. Fuller 139.5 $425 $59,287.50

  Tracie Dickerson 0.8 $240 $ 192.00

  Paralegal 3.8 $115 $ 437.00

 Mario B. Mikelinich 9.1 $425 $ 3,867.50*fn1

 Expert Fees 46.0 $175 $ 8,050.00

 
Costs $ 3,299.95 __________ Total: $78,405.95
  (Plaintiffs' Verified Application for Attorneys' Fees, Expert's Fees, Litigation Expenses and Costs and Incorporated Memorandum of Law ("Pl. App.") at 12-13; Letter of Lawrence A. Fuller dated Nov. 28, 2005 ("Fuller Letter") at 4-5).

  The defendant opposes an award of this magnitude on the grounds that (1) the plaintiff's counsel allegedly violated the confidentiality provisions of the settlement agreement by disclosing the terms of the agreement to a non-party; (2) the time spent by plaintiffs' counsel on many tasks was excessive; (3) the rates charged are not justified; (4) the expert witness fees are excessive; (5) the plaintiffs' costs other than the expert fees should be rejected; and (6) the plaintiff's "lodestar" recovery should be reduced based on their limited success.

  The ADA provides that a prevailing plaintiff may recover attorneys' fees, expert fees, litigation expenses, and costs. 42 U.S.C. § 12205. In a civil rights case such as this, the amount of an award of attorneys' fees is determined using the "lodestar" method: the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by the appropriate hourly rates for attorneys or paralegals. See Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). "[T]he district court should exclude excessive, redundant or otherwise unnecessary hours, as well as hours dedicated to severable unsuccessful claims." Quaratino v. Tiffany & Co., 166 F.3d 422, 425 (2d Cir. 1999) (citing Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433-35, 440). Finally, while the lodestar can be adjusted in light of factors such as the results obtained, Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434-35, "[t]here is . . . a strong ...


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