United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
PAUL OETKEN, District Judge
September 19, 2016, the Court was notified that Defendants
provided, and Plaintiff Rhonda Williams accepted, an offer of
judgment in this matter pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure in the amount of $10, 001.00. (Dkt.
No. 31.) Accordingly, the case was closed (Dkt. No. 32), and
a Clerk's Judgment was issued on September 27, 2016 (Dkt.
November 1, 2016, Williams filed for attorney's fees and
costs. (Dkt. No. 37.) Defendants oppose the motion on two
grounds: the reasonableness of hourly rate of the fees and
the reasonableness of the number of hours billed. For the
reasons that follow, Williams's motion is granted in part
and denied in part.
statute permits the court, ‘in its discretion' to
‘allow a prevailing party' in a federal civil
rights action ‘a reasonable attorney's fee as part
of the costs.'” Schoolcraft v. City of
N.Y., No. 10 Civ. 6005, 2016 WL 4626568, at *2 (S.D.N.Y.
Sept. 6, 2016) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b)). “The
Second Circuit has held that plaintiffs who accept Rule 68
offers of judgment qualify as ‘prevailing parties'
entitled to attorneys' fees and costs.” Davis
v. City of N.Y., No. 10 Civ. 699, 2011 WL 4946243, at *2
(S.D.N.Y. Oct. 18, 2011).
courts are afforded considerable discretion in determining
the amount of attorneys' fees in any given case.”
Id. In doing so, courts multiply the number of hours
by a reasonable hourly rate-this method “creates a
presumptively reasonable fee.” Stanczyk v. City of
N.Y., 752 F.3d 273, 284 (2d Cir. 2014) (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Millea v. Metro-N. R.R.
Co., 658 F.3d 154, 166 (2d Cir. 2011)).
initial matter, Defendants do not oppose the costs sought by
Williams, and those few items-including, for example, the
process server fees and PACER charges (Dkt. No. 39, Ex.
Court now turns to the disputed question of attorney's
fees, first discussing the appropriate hourly rate and then
the number of hours billed. Finally, the Court resolves the
question of additional fees in connection with this motion.
challenge Williams's counsel's hourly rate.
reasonable hourly rate is determined by the ‘prevailing
market rate, ' that is, the rate ‘prevailing in the
community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably
comparable skill, experience and reputation.'”
Mosher v. Davita Healthcare Partners Inc., No. 15
Civ. 7594, 2016 WL 3963131, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 20, 2016)
(quoting Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 n.11
(1984)). “The relevant community, in turn, is the
district in which the court sits.” Id.
(quoting Farbotko v. Clinton Cty. of N.Y., 433 F.3d
204, 208 (2d Cir. 2005) (citation omitted)). In evaluating
the reasonableness of the hourly rate, the Second Circuit has
urged district courts to keep in mind the twelve
Johnson factors. See Arbor Hill Concerned
Citizens Neighborhood Ass'n v. Cty. of Albany, 522
F.3d 182, 190 (2d Cir. 2008). They are:
(1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and
difficulty of the questions; (3) the level of skill required
to perform the legal service properly; (4) the preclusion of
employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case; (5)
the attorney's customary hourly rate; (6) whether the fee
is fixed or contingent; (7) the time limitations imposed by
the client or the circumstances; (8) the amount involved in
the case and the results obtained; (9) the experience,
reputation, and ability of the attorneys; (10) the
“undesirability” of the case; (11) the nature and
length of the professional relationship with the client; and
(12) awards in similar cases.
Id. at 186 n.3 (quoting Johnson v. Ga. Highway
Exp., Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir.