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Keenan Scott, et al v. City of New York

December 1, 2010

KEENAN SCOTT, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEE-CROSS-APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT-CROSS-APPELLEE.



Per curiam.

Scott v. City of New York

Argued: October 26, 2010

Before: MINER, KATZMANN, and HALL, Circuit Judges.

The City of New York appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Scheindlin, J.) awarding partial attorney's fees pursuant to section 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The attorney has cross-appealed from denial of certain of those fees. Because the district court did not explain the basis on which the attorney was excepted from the requirement that attorneys submit contemporaneous time records with their fee applications, we are unable to divine whether the court abused its discretion in granting such an exception. Accordingly, the order of the district court granting those fees is VACATED and the case is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

VACATED AND REMANDED.

The City of New York appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Scheindlin, J.) awarding Thomas P. Puccio attorney's fees pursuant to section 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Puccio cross-appeals. Because the district court did not explain the basis on which Puccio was excepted from the requirement that attorneys submit contemporaneous time records with their fee applications, we are unable to divine whether the court abused its discretion in granting such an exception. Accordingly, the order of the district court granting those attorney fees is VACATED and the case is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. Background

A. Introduction

Plaintiffs, current and former employees of the New York City Police Department, sued the department and the City of New York ("City") alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219 (2006). They sought over $700 million in damages.

The case proceeded to trial, and the plaintiffs were ultimately awarded $900,000 for the City's willful violation of FLSA's overtime compensation requirements. Afterward, the plaintiffs petitioned the court for attorney's fees pursuant to section 216(b) of the FLSA.

Among plaintiffs' counsel seeking fees was Thomas P. Puccio. Puccio applied for $2,035,867.50 in fees. He based this number on an hourly rate of between $750 and $1,000 and a 96-page attachment of time entries totaling 2,090.87 hours of compensable time.

The City opposed Puccio's fee application on the grounds that Puccio's proposed hourly rates were too high and that the entries in his attachment were insufficient to support the number of hours he claimed he had devoted to the case. The City argued, inter alia, that: (1) "a significant number of entries, identical in punctuation, spacing, and even in typographical errors, appeared as many as four times in cyclical patterns"; (2) the entries showed an excessive amount of time devoted to reviewing e-mails; (3) some entries appeared to pertain to issues unrelated to the FLSA litigation; (4) some entries referred to reviewing a summary judgment decision on dates before the decision was issued; and (5) some entries referred to preparation and attendance at trial for dates when there was no trial, including dates after the jury had rendered its verdict. (Appellant-Cross-Appellee's Br. 4-5 (alterations omitted).)

Puccio responded to the City's opposition by filing a supplemental declaration in support of his application for fees. In it he admitted he did not make the time entries at the time he did the work memorialized in the entries. He stated that the entries were prepared instead "by my office working with outside paralegal assistance under my general supervision." (J.A. 1498.) He asserted that the paralegals based the ...


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