The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kevin Nathaniel Fox United States Magistrate Judge
On January 13, 2010, the Court granted a cross-motion by the plaintiff's former counsel, the law firm of Frank & Associates, P.C. ("F&A"), for a charging lien, pursuant to New York Judiciary Law § 475 ("NYJL § 475"). However, the Court could not fix the value of the lien, owing to the dearth of information provided on the reasonable value of the legal services rendered. Thereafter, on February 1, 2010, F&A filed supplemental documentation in support of its request that the Court fix its charging lien in the amount of $90,679.30.
From approximately late May 2005, until January 13, 2010, F&A served as counsel-of-record to the plaintiff, in this employment discrimination action. Upon its retention, F&A moved the Court to enlarge the time to complete discovery, which was set to close on June 1, 2005. The Court granted F&A's motion. Thereafter, F&A moved twice for the same relief. The Court enlarged the time to complete discovery, ultimately, to September 2, 2005.
During the pretrial discovery phase of the litigation, F&A defended the plaintiff's deposition and deposed five of the defendant's employees. Counsel from F&A participated in a telephonic conference with the Court, on August 30, 2005, to address the service of subpoenas on two of the defendant's employees. After the close of discovery, on September 8, 2005, the parties participated in a settlement conference with the Court, but could not agree to resolve the instant action. Following the settlement conference, F&A moved for sanctions against the defendant, for failing to produce certain information timely. The Court granted F&A's motion on November 2, 2005 and precluded the defendant from using the untimely produced information in a motion or at trial. Subsequently, the Court denied the defendant's motion for reconsideration of the discovery sanction, which the plaintiff opposed.
On November 10, 2005, the defendant moved for summary judgment on all the plaintiff's claims. On December 5, 2005, the plaintiff filed his opposition to the summary judgment motion, which included a 35-page memorandum of law and 31 exhibits. Simultaneously, the plaintiff sought leave to amend his complaint.
On September 29, 2008, the assigned district judge denied the plaintiff leave to amend, and granted, in part, the defendant's motion for summary judgment, leaving a number of discrimination and retaliation claims for trial. On October 17, 2008, the plaintiff filed a motion to "dismiss" F&A as his counsel, which the Court granted, on January 13, 2010. Finding the plaintiff's dismissal of F&A to be without cause, the Court granted the firm's cross-motion for a charging lien, pursuant to NYJL § 475.
Under NYJL § 475, a charging lien may be determined "on a quantum meruit basis, ascertaining the reasonable value of the legal services rendered up to the date of" counsel's withdrawal or discharge. See Sequa Corp. v. GBJ Corp., 156 F.3d 136, 148 (2d Cir. 1998). "A charging lien . . . is equitable in nature . . . and the overriding criterion for determining the amount of a charging lien is that it be 'fair[.]'" Sutton v. New York City Transit Auth., 462 F.3d 157, 161 (2d Cir. 2006). Among the factors a court must consider in assessing the amount of a charging lien on a quantum meruit basis are: (1) "the difficulty of the matter"; (2) "the nature and extent of the services rendered"; (3) "the time reasonably expended on those services"; (4) "the quality of performance by counsel"; (5) "the qualifications of counsel"; (6) "the amount at issue"; and (7) "the results obtained (to the extent known)." Sequa, 156 F.3d at 148. It is appropriate, after "consider[ing] all the factors relevant to a quantum meruit fee analysis . . . [to] turn to lodestar analysis to reach a specific dollar figure for the value of the services rendered[.]" Id.*fn1
F&A seeks to recoup the reasonable value of legal services provided, to the plaintiff, by the following attorneys: (1) Neil M. Frank ("Frank"); (2) Peter A. Romero ("Romero"); and (3) Christopher D. Felker ("Felker"). Frank is the principal and managing partner of F&A. He has been admitted to practice in New York since 1963 and has practiced exclusively in the area of labor and employment law, from that time forward, working at two labor and employment law firms before starting his own practice in 1991. Romero has been admitted to practice in New York since 2003, and has practiced labor and employment law as an associate at F&A since July 2004. Felker graduated from law school in 2002 and worked at the United States Department of Justice prior to joining F&A.
According to the time records submitted to the Court, Frank expended 25.25 hours on the instant litigation and seeks remuneration at a rate of $400 per hour. Romero and Felker each seek an hourly rate of $250; however, the time records indicate Romero devoted 293 hours to the instant action, while Felker only spent 10 hours on the matter. Additionally, F&A seeks to recover $4,829.30, the costs it incurred representing the plaintiff. In sum, F&A requests that the Court fix its charging lien, in the amount of $90,679.30, calculated as follows:
NAMERATE ($/hour)TOTAL HOURSTOTAL
Neil M. Frank40025.25$10,100.00
Peter A. Romero250293$73,250.00
Christopher D. Felker25010$2,500.00
TOTAL SOUGHT $90,679.30
The plaintiff retained F&A on the eve of the close of discovery. After securing, from the Court, two enlargements of the time for completing pretrial discovery activities, F&A had three months to complete discovery, of whatever nature. F&A conducted multiple depositions, on the plaintiff's behalf, during this time. After the close of discovery, F&A attended a settlement conference, with the Court, and made a contested discovery motion, which the Court granted. F&A also prepared and filed the plaintiff's opposition to the defendant's summary judgment motion, and sought leave of the court to amend the complaint. The assigned district judge denied the motion for leave to amend, but granted, only in part, the defendant's motion for summary judgment, leaving a number ...