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Aquent, LLC v. Atlantic Energy Services

March 23, 2012




Presently before the Court are Plaintiff Aquent, LLC ("Plaintiff" or "Aquent")'s Motions seeking damages and attorneys' fees as against Defendants Atlantic Energy Services, Inc.; Atlantic Energy Solutions, Inc.; Atlantic Holding Company of Saratoga, Inc; (collectively, "Atlantic Energy Defendants"), Terri J. Brock, and Timothy J. Brock (collectively, "Brock Defendants"). Dkt. Nos. 15 ("Fees Motion"), 19 ("Damages Motion"). Both Motions are unopposed. On September 7, 2010, the Court issued a Memorandum-Decision and Order granting Plaintiff's unopposed Motion for partial summary judgment and ordering Plaintiff to submit further briefing on attorneys' fees. Dkt. No. 11 ("SJ Order"). The Court later directed Plaintiff to submit a motion for damages. Dkt. No. 16.


In January 2007, the Atlantic Energy Defendants entered into a line of credit agreement with Plaintiff. Dkt. No. 1 ("Complaint") ¶ 11. Pursuant to the line of credit agreement, Plaintiff agreed to provide the Atlantic Energy Defendants with accounts receivable financing, authorizing loan disbursements up to $500,000. Id. ¶¶ 11-12. Plaintiff also acquired, pursuant to a security agreement and a promissory note ("Note"), a security interest in all assets of the Atlantic Energy Defendants. Id. ¶¶ 14, 16-17. The Atlantic Energy Defendants agreed, upon demand by Plaintiff, to pay all principal outstanding on the Note, along with all accrued and unpaid interest set at a rate of 18%. Id. ¶¶ 37, 25. Additionally, the Brock Defendants executed a personal guaranty rendering them jointly and severally liable for the debts of the Atlantic Energy Defendants. Id. ¶ 55. After Defendants defaulted under these agreements, Plaintiff brought this action seeking to recover the outstanding balance of $469,434.08. Compl. ¶¶ 21, 42. On September 7, 2010, the Court granted summary judgment to Plaintiff on its claims of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and breach of guaranty. See SJ Order.

For a more detailed statement of the facts underlying this action, reference is made to the Complaint and to the Memorandum-Decision and Order granting Plaintiff's Motion for summary judgment.


A. Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fees

"Under New York law, a contract that provides for an award of reasonable attorneys' fees to the prevailing party in an action to enforce the contract is enforceable if the contractual language is sufficiently clear." NetJets Aviation, Inc. v. LHC Commc'ns, LLC, 537 F.3d 168, 175 (2d Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). Here, the line of credit agreement signed by the Atlantic Energy Defendants agreed that "[i]f [Plaintiff] hires an attorney to enforce this agreement, the [Atlantic Energy Defendants] shall pay [Plaintiff]'s reasonable attorneys' fees . . . [And] shall also pay [Plaintiff]'s court costs and costs of collection." Dkt. No. 10-2 ¶ 7. Accordingly, as the Court determined in the SJ Order, Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable costs and attorneys' fees as against the Atlantic Energy Defendants.*fn1

Courts in the Second Circuit employ a "presumptively reasonable fee" standard to determine the amount to award as attorneys' fees. Arbor Hill Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Ass'n v. County of Albany, 522 F.3d 182, 184 (2d Cir. 2008). In order to determine what is a presumptively reasonable fee,*fn2 the court assesses "case-specific considerations at the outset, factoring them into its determination of a reasonable hourly rate for the attorneys' work," which is then multiplied by a reasonable number of hours expended by counsel. McDaniel v. County of Schenectady, 595 F.3d 411, 420 (2d Cir. 2010).

Plaintiff seek a total of $64,403.00 in attorneys' fees. Fees Mot. ¶¶ 5-6. In support of their Fees Motion, Plaintiffs have submitted detailed billing records. Dkt. Nos. 19, 19-1 ("Billing Memos"). Plaintiff notes that it has made numerous attempts to settle this matter, both before and after commencing litigation. Fees Mot. ¶¶ 2, 4. When those negotiations proved "fruitless," Plaintiff's attorneys drafted all necessary papers to move for judgment on the pleadings. Id. ¶ 4.

Plaintiff's attorneys bill "at an hourly rate which varies based on the level of expertise and experience of the individual attorney or member of staff working on the request." Id. ¶ 3.

The Billing Memos submitted by Plaintiff are arranged in chronological order. See generally Billing Memos. Although these Memos include a breakdown of attorney hours and rates for each billing cycle, they do not include a summary totaled across all billing periods. Id. The Court, therefore, reviewed the submissions and found the following:

Attorney Hourly Rate Hours Billed Total Fees

Timothy Flanagan $440.00 10.5 $4,620.00 Timothy Flanagan $425.00 96.5 $41,012.50 James Ryan $425.00 5.6 $2,380.00 Craig Dee $410.00 0.3 $123.00 Jeffrey Herz $410.00 .8 $328.00 Matthew Roseman $395.00 13.6 $5,372.00 Nathan Prystowsky $225.00 44.4 $9,990.00 David Sherwin $165.00 3.5 $577.50 TOTAL: $64,403.00 The Court has reviewed the documentation submitted by Plaintiff, and finds that all time billed is supported by contemporaneous time records that show -- for each attorney -- the date or dates worked, the hours expended, and the nature of the tasks completed. Id. As Defendants have not raised any objections to the tasks or hours billed, and as the Court ...

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