United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
KUO United States Magistrate Judge.
Lawrence Feltzin (“Plaintiff”) brought this
action against Defendant Ciampa Whitepoint LLC
(“Defendant”), pursuant to the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
(the “ADA”), for injunctive relief and
attorneys' fees, litigation expenses, and costs. (Compl.,
Dkt. 1.) Plaintiff is a paraplegic and qualifies as an
individual with disabilities under the ADA. (Id.
¶ 5.) Defendant owns, leases, or operates the Whitepoint
Shopping Center in College Point, New York, which is a place
of public accommodation under the ADA. (Id. ¶
6.) Plaintiff has visited Defendant's property and
intends to return. (Id. ¶ 5.)
the Court on referral from the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein is
Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs.
(See Dkt. 26; Dkt. 31.) For the reasons discussed below, the
motion is granted in part and denied in part; Plaintiff is
awarded $22, 560.60 in attorneys' fees and costs.
commenced this lawsuit by filing the Complaint on April 22,
2015 (Dkt. 1), and served Defendant on June 22, 2015 (Dkt.
10). Defendant answered on September 18, 2015. (Dkt. 17.) The
only court appearances were four conferences. (See Min. Entry
9/3/2015; Min. Entry 11/20/2015; Min. Entry 1/7/2016; Min.
Entry 1/26/2016.) Except for the Initial Conference, which
was held in person, the remaining three conferences were held
by telephone and concerned only the parties' ongoing
settlement discussions. (See id.) On March 7, 2016,
the parties filed a status report informing the Court that
they had settled the matter but for the issue of
attorneys' fees, a determination on which they would
defer to the undersigned. (See Status Report, Dkt. 22.) The
parties filed a Stipulation of Dismissal on March 11, 2016
(see Stip. of Dismisal, Dkt. 23), and subsequently briefed
to the ADA, a district court has discretion to award to a
“prevailing party…a reasonable attorney's
fee, including litigation expenses and costs….”
42 U.S.C. § 12205. “A prevailing party is one who
obtains direct benefit from an enforceable judgment that
provides relief on the merits of the party's
claim.” Brady v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 455
F.Supp.2d 157, 203 (E.D.N.Y. 2006) (internal quotations
omitted). Defendant does not contest that Plaintiff in this
action is a prevailing party and entitled to recover
attorneys' fees and costs. (See Def.'s Mem. in
Opp'n at 1, Dkt. 28.) However, Plaintiff seeks to recover
$42, 818.60, of which $34, 976.50 is attorneys' fees, $6,
200.00 is expert fees, and $1, 642.10 is other costs
(Pl.'s Reply at 8, Dkt. 30); Defendant proposes an award
of no more than $13, 665.00 (Def.'s Mem. in Opp'n at
attorneys' fees and costs awarded to Plaintiff by the
Court must be “reasonable.” See Riley v. City
of New York, No. 10-CV-2513 (MKB), 2015 WL 9592518, at
*1 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 31, 2015). “[T]he lodestar - the
product of a reasonable hourly rate and the reasonable number
of hours required by the case - creates a presumptively
reasonable fee.” Millea v. Metro-N. R.R. Co.,
658 F.3d 154, 166 (2d Cir. 2011); see also Scharff v.
Cty. of Nassau, No. 10-CV-4208 (DRH)(GRB), 2016 WL
3166848, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. May 20, 2016), R&R
adopted, 2016 WL 3172798 (E.D.N.Y. June 6, 2016);
Riley, 2015 WL 9592518, at *1. To calculate the
lodestar, the Court determines a reasonable hourly rate and a
reasonable number of hours. “District courts have broad
discretion to determine both the reasonable number of
compensable hours and the reasonable hourly rate.”
Brady, 455 F.Supp.2d at 203. The party applying for
fees must provide contemporaneous time sheets to document
counsel's work, and must support the hourly rates it
claims with, for example, evidence of counsel's expertise
and prevailing market rates. See Riley, 2015 WL
9592518, at *1. Here, Plaintiff has supplied attorney time
sheets (Dkts. 26-6 & 30-2), Plaintiff's expert's
resume, reports, and invoices (Dkts. 26-3, 26-7, 26-8, &
26-10), and counsel's professional biographical details
(Dkts. 26-4 & 26-5), among other materials.
determine a reasonable hourly rate, the district court
considers “rates prevailing in the community for
similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill,
expertise and reputation.” Cruz v. Local Union No.
3 of IBEW, 34 F.3d 1148, 1159 (2d Cir. 1994). The
“community” is the district in which the
reviewing court sits, “unless the party seeking fees
persuasively establishes that a reasonable client would have
selected out-of-district counsel because doing so would
likely (not just possibly) produce a substantially better net
result.” Scharff, 2016 WL 3166848, at *4
(internal quotations and brackets omitted). “The
reasonable hourly rate is the rate a paying client would be
willing to pay…bear[ing] in mind that a reasonable,
paying client wishes to spend the minimum necessary to
litigate the case effectively.” Arbor Hill
Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Ass'n v. Cty. of
Albany, 522 F.3d 182, 190 (2d Cir. 2008). The district
court must also “bear in mind all of the
case-specific variables that [the Second Circuit] and other
courts have identified as relevant to the reasonableness of
attorney's fees in setting a reasonable hourly
rate.” Id. at 190 (emphasis in the original).
Those factors include “the attorney's experience
and expertise, the novelty and complexity of the issues
presented, and the overall success achieved in the
case.” Brady, 455 F.Supp.2d at 204; see
also Chen v. Cty. of Suffolk, 927 F.Supp.2d 58, 71
(E.D.N.Y. 2013). The fee applicant has the burden of
justifying the requested rate as reasonable. See
Scharff, 2016 WL 3166848, at *4.
recent years, fees have been awarded in the Eastern District
of New York at an hourly rate of $300 to $450 for partners,
$100 to $325 for associates, and $70 to $100 for paralegals
in fee-shifting cases. See, e.g., John v.
Demaio, No. 15-CV-6094 (NGG)(CLP), 2016 WL 7410656, at
*1-2 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 22, 2016); Volpe v. Nassau Cty.,
No. 12-CV-2416 (JFB)(AKT), 2016 WL 6238525, at *6 (E.D.N.Y.
Oct. 24, 2016); Finkel v. Athena Light & Power,
LLC, No. 14-CV-3585 (DLI)(PK), 2016 WL 4742279, at *10
(E.D.N.Y. Sept. 11, 2016); Scharff, 2016 WL 3166848,
at *4; Griffin v. Astro Moving & Storage Co.,
No. 11-CV-1844 (MKB), 2015 WL 1476415, at *8-9 (E.D.N.Y. Mar.
31, 2015); Chen, 927 F.Supp.2d at 72. Plaintiff was
represented in this action by three attorneys, all partners,
with additional work performed by a paralegal. (See Pl.'s
Appl. at 5-7, Dkt. 26; Exh. E to Pl.'s Appl., Dkt. 26-6.)
The attorneys, Lawrence Fuller (“Fuller”), James
Plaisted (“Plaisted”), and Asaad Siddiqi
(“Siddiqi”), request hourly rates of $425, $525,
$400, respectively. In evaluating these rates, the Court
notes that this was a straightforward ADA case which settled
before the parties had fully engaged in discovery. (See Min.
who is located in Florida, is a partner at Fuller, Fuller
& Associates. (Exh. C to Pl.'s Appl. at 1, Dkt.
26-4.) He has practiced law for 42 years and is admitted to
the bars of Florida, New York, and Washington, D.C.
(Id.) His practice since 2001 has included an
“emphasis…on enforcement of Title II and III of
the Americans With Disability Act of 1990.”
(Id. at 1-2.) His requested rate of $425 per hour
falls within the range of rates recognized as reasonable in
this district, and the Court finds that, in light of his
experience and expertise, that rate is reasonable in this
and Siddiqi are both located in Roseland, New Jersey, and are
shareholders at the firm Walder Hayden. (Exh. D to Pl.'s
Appl., Dkt. 26-5.) Plaisted has practiced for 41 years and is
admitted to the bars of New York and New Jersey.
(Id. at 1-2.) He is a former U.S. Attorney's
Office division chief with extensive trial experience but
does not have expertise in ADA cases. (Id. at 1-3.)
His requested rate of $525 per hour falls outside the $300 to
$450 per hour rate for partners in this ...