United States District Court, S.D. New York
EXECUTIVE RISK INDEMNITY INC., as subrogee of ANDREWS INTERNATIONAL, INC. and COPSTAT SECURITY, LLC, Plaintiffs,
FIELDBRIDGE ASSOCIATES LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
KEVIN NATHANIEL FOX, Magistrate Judge.
Before the Court is the plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration of the Court's March 18, 2015 Memorandum and Order ("Order"), Docket Entry No. 22, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 and Local Civil Rule 6.3 of this court. The defendant opposes the motion.
The plaintiffs, Executive Risk Indemnity Inc. and its insureds, Andrews International, Inc. ("Andrews") and Copstat Security, LLC ("Copstat"), made an application for attorneys' fees pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54. The plaintiffs sought attorneys' fees and costs incurred in connection with the defense of Andrews and Copstat in an underlying action filed in New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County, and denominated Willis Jackson v. Fieldbridge Associates, LLC, Andrews International, Inc. and Copstat Security, Inc. (the "underlying action"), for which the defendant, Fieldbridge Associates, LLC ("Fieldbridge"), acknowledged liability. The plaintiffs also sought to recover the attorneys' fees and costs they incurred in bringing their Rule 54 motion, which, they contended, was occasioned by Fieldbridge's initial refusal to honor its obligation to the plaintiffs, pursuant to a prior agreement.
In the Order, the Court determined, inter alia, that: (a) an award of attorneys' fees incurred by the plaintiffs for work done by Barry Jacobs, Esq. ("Jacobs"), an attorney who represented them in the underlying action, was warranted; (b) an award of attorneys' fees incurred by the plaintiffs for hours of work claimed by attorneys other than Jacobs, who were employed at the same law firm, and by paralegals and clerks employed at that firm, was not warranted because the evidence provided in support of this branch of the plaintiffs' request was substantially deficient; and (c) an award of attorneys' fees incurred by the plaintiffs in connection with the filing of their Rule 54 motion was not warranted because the plaintiffs failed to provide any contemporaneous time records in support of their application.
In support of their motion for reconsideration of the Order, the plaintiffs contend that, because their subrogation action against the defendant, which was the occasion for their motion for attorneys' fees, was premised on diversity jurisdiction, New York law applied; consequently, "the Court erred by applying federal law rather than New York law" in determining whether the plaintiffs were entitled to attorneys' fees in connection with that action. The plaintiffs also contend that, by relying on federal law in ruling upon the plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees, the Court "incorrectly applied the presumptively reasonable fee' standard, or lodestar' method, " as enunciated by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, whereas, "while the lodestar' method is often applied in New York, it is not a rigorous standard that must be strictly followed." Additionally, according to the plaintiffs, since the Court has already determined that the attorneys' fees incurred for the work performed by Jacobs were reasonable, "it should follow that the rates of his partners, associates and paralegals are also reasonable." The plaintiffs also argue that attorneys' fees should have been awarded to the plaintiffs for the work performed in connection with the filing of their Rule 54 motion, based on the information provided in an attorney affidavit filed in support of that branch of their motion. In addition, the plaintiffs contend that the amount of attorneys' fees awarded by the Court was unjust because "the parties to this action had a contractual agreement wherein Fieldbridge agreed to defend and indemnify Andrews and Copstat and breached that agreement, and... later accepted liability for the defense of the [u]nderlying [a]ction." In support of their motion for reconsideration, the plaintiffs provided, inter alia, information concerning attorneys (other than Jacobs) and paralegals who worked on the matter, which was not included in their original motion papers.
The defendant contends that the Court's application of the lodestar method was not error because it is the method the New York courts have accepted as a way of assessing the reasonableness of attorneys' fees. The defendant also notes that, in their application for attorneys' fees, the plaintiffs expressly maintained that the lodestar method was the standard method and should be applied. The defendant contends further that the evidence submitted by the plaintiffs respecting law firm personnel other than Jacobs is inadmissible on a motion for reconsideration.
In their reply papers, the plaintiffs again assert that their motion to reconsider should be granted to prevent an injustice given that Fieldbridge was contractually obligated to pay their fees and costs and has admitted its liability. The plaintiffs also assert that the reasonableness of the fees sought has been established notwithstanding the absence of evidence in support of their claim, and note that they have provided the missing evidence along with the instant motion. The plaintiffs argue that the additional evidence provided here is not "new evidence or law, but rather... was already before the Court but... required clarification."
Local Civil Rule 6.3 of this court provides for a motion for reconsideration or reargument, requiring the movant to set forth, in a memorandum of law, "concisely the matters or controlling decisions which counsel believes the Court has overlooked." Local Civil Rule 6.3. Typically, to obtain relief under Local Civil Rule 6.3, the movant must demonstrate that the court overlooked controlling decisions or factual matters that were put before the court on the underlying motion. See Al Maya Trading Establishment v. Global Export Marketing Co. Ltd., No. 14 Civ. 275, 2014 WL 3507427, at *10 (S.D.N.Y. July 15, 2014). However, reconsideration by a court of its prior decision is also justified when an intervening change in controlling law has occurred, new evidence has become available or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice exists. See Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd. ...