United States District Court, S.D. New York
NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA, and NEW HAMPSHIRE INSURANCE COMPANY Plaintiffs,
SOUTHERN COAL CORPORATION, Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER
HONORABLE PAUL A. CROTTY, United States District Judge
National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA
("National Union") and New Hampshire Insurance
Company ("NHIC") bring this action against
Defendant Southern Coal Corporation for breach of a
promissory note. On November 27, 2017, the Court granted
National Union's motion for summary judgment, holding
that it was entitled to (1) $559, 286 in unpaid principal,
(2) prejudgment interest at the rate of 12% per annum from
January 15, 2015, (3) post-judgment interest to be calculated
in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1961, and (4) the amount
of attorneys' fees incurred in enforcing the promissory
note. ECF 36 at 6-7. At the Court's direction, National
Union has submitted an application for attorneys' fees
and costs, and Southern Coal does not object to the
application. The Court now approves the application and
enters final judgment.
calculate a reasonable attorneys' fee award, courts
traditionally employ the "lodestar" method,
multiplying "a reasonable hourly rate and the reasonable
number of hours required by the case" to determine a
"presumptively reasonable fee." Millea v.
Metro-North R. Co., 658 F.3d 154, 166 (2d Cir. 2011)
(citation omitted). To determine whether an hourly rate is
reasonable, a court should consider the "prevailing
hourly rate in the community" and "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." Arbor Hill
Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Ass'n v. Cty. of Albany
and Albany Cty. Bd. of Elections, 522 F.3d 182, 190 (2d
Cir. 2008) (quoting Polk v. N.Y. State Dep't of Corr.
Servs., 722 F.2d 23, 25 (2d Cir. 1983)). To determine
whether the number of hours expended is reasonable, a court
must make "a conscientious and detailed inquiry into the
validity of the representations that a certain number of
hours were usefully and reasonably expended." Lunday
v. City of Albany, 42 F.3d 131, 134 (2d Cir. 1994).
National Union requests an award of $85, 069.35 in
attorneys' fees and expenses and $2, 403.54 in costs, for
a total of $87, 472.89, and the Court finds that this amount
represents a reasonable award. First, the hourly rates
charged by counsel are reasonable, National Union's
counsel, Shook, Hardy & Bacon ("SHB"), staffed
this case with one partner, one associate, and one paralegal.
Their hourly billing rates ranged from $175 for the paralegal
to $425 for the partner. ECF 38 at ¶¶ 12-14. These
billing rates are reasonable when compared to prevailing
hourly rates in the community. Courts in this District
regularly approve hourly rates between $250 and $450 for
comparable lawyers. See, e.g., Maldonado v. La Nueva
Rampa, Inc., 10-cv-8195, 2012 WL 1669341, at *13
(S.D.N.Y. May 14, 2012). In particular, one court previously
approved even higher hourly rates for other SHB lawyers.
See Diplomatic Man, Inc. v. Nike, 08-cv-139, 2009 WL
935674, at *5-6 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 7, 2009). Moreover, no
case-specific variables weigh against approving the requested
fee. To the contrary, counsel obtained the full relief sought
by National Union. See Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S.
103, 114 (1992) ("[T]he most critical factor in
determining the reasonableness of a fee award is the degree
of success obtained." (quotation omitted)). As such, the
Court finds the hourly rates reasonable.
the number of hours expended is also reasonable. National
Union represents that counsel expended a total of 242.70
hours litigating this matter through November 30, 2017. ECF
37 at 3. As required, National Union has submitted detailed
time records that "specify, for each attorney, the date,
the hours expended, and the nature of the work done."
See N.Y.State Ass 'n for Retarded Children, Inc. v.
Carey, 111 F.2d 1136, 1148 (2d Cir. 1983). The Court has
reviewed these detailed time records and finds no
"problems of excess or waste." See Diplomatic
Man, 2009 WL 935674, at *6. As such, the Court finds
that 242.70 hours is a reasonable number of hours required by
the case. Accordingly, the Court awards National Union the
requested $85, 069.35 in attorneys' fees and expenses.
Union is also entitled to the requested $2, 403.54 in costs.
"Fee awards include reasonable out-of-pocket expenses
incurred by attorneys and ordinarily charged to their
clients." Kahlil v. Original Old Homestead
Restaurant, Inc., 657 F.Supp.2d 470, 478 (S.D.N.Y.
2009). National Union seeks reimbursement for costs
associated with delivery and postage, court and transcript
fees, and travel. ECF 37 at 4. The Court finds the amount
reasonable and awards National Union the requested $2, 403.54
the Court now calculates the prejudgment interest owed to
National Union. National Union is entitled to prejudgment
interest on the principal amount of $559, 286 at the rate of
12% per annum from January 15, 2015. There are 1, 069 days,
or approximately 2.93 years, between January 15, 2015 and
today's date of December 19, 2017. Therefore, the Court
calculates the award of prejudgment interest to be $196,
644.96 as follows: $559, 286 x 2.93 years x 12.0% = $196,
the Court enters judgment and awards National Union the
following relief: (1) $559, 286 in unpaid principal; (2)
$196, 644.96 in prejudgment interest; (3) post-judgment
interest calculated in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1961
that shall continue until the Judgment is fully paid; and (4)
$87, 472.89 ...