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Errant Gene Therapeutics, LLC v. Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 2, 2018

Errant Gene Therapeutics, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          STEWART D. AARON, United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is a fee application of Defendant, Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research ("SKI") (ECF No. 155). For the reasons set forth below, SKI's fee application is granted. Plaintiff, Errant Gene Therapeutics, LLC ("EGT"), is ordered to pay to SKI $88;339.00 in attorneys' fees.

         BACKGROUND

         By Opinion and Order, dated June 5, 2017 (ECF No. 149; hereinafter "June 5 Order"), Magistrate Judge Ellis ordered that EGT pay the reasonable attorneys' fees and costs of SKI in bringing two motions for sanctions [i.e., ECF Nos. 100 & 134). Magistrate Judge Ellis also ordered that "SKI submit hours and rates for the Court's approval." Pursuant to the June 5 Order, SKI submitted its hours and rates, and filed a fee application, dated June 19, 2017 (ECF No. 155).[1] On its application, SKI currently is seeking fees in the amount of $122, 100.20.[2]

         EGT has opposed SKI's fee application and supplement. (ECF Nos. 168 & 180.) EGT asserts in its opposition that SKI's application is "excessive, " and EGT requests at least a "90% reduction." (PL's Opp. to Def.'s Fee Appl., ECF No. 168 at 3.) EGT also asserts that the hours spent by SKI's attorneys were "staggering." (Id. at 4.)[3]

         After the retirement of Magistrate Judge Ellis, SKI's fee application was assigned to this Court.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Applicable legal Standards

         The June 5 Order requires EGT to pay SKI's "reasonable attorneys' fees." (ECF No. 149.) In determining reasonable attorneys' fees in this case, the Court will use the lodestar approach to determine a "presumptively reasonable fee" by calculating the number of hours reasonably expended by counsel on the litigation and multiply that number of hours by reasonable hourly rates. Milled v. Metro-North R.R. Co., 658 F.3d 154, 166 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court "enjoys broad discretion in determining the amount of a fee award." Vincent v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 651 F.3d 299, 307 (2d Cir. 2011).

         To determine the reasonable hourly rate, the Court's analysis is guided by the market rate "prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation." Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 n.ll (1984). Generally, the relevant community is the district in which the district court sits. Arbor Hilt Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Ass'n v. Cty. of Albany, 522 F.3d 182, 190 (2d Cir. 2008). The Court is to evaluate the "evidence proffered by the parties" and may take "judicial notice of the rates awarded in prior cases and the court's own familiarity with the rates prevailing in the district." Farbotko v. Clinton Cty., 433 F.3d 204, 209 (2d Cir. 2005).

         In making its determination, the Court "examines the particular hours expended by counsel with a view to the value of the work product of the specific expenditures to the client's case." Luciano v. Olsten Corp., 109 F.3d 111, 116 (2d Cir. 1997). A court-awarded attorneys' fee must compensate only for "hours reasonably expended on the litigation, " not for "hours that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433-34 (1983). if the number of hours recorded by counsel is disproportionate to the work performed, the Court should reduce the stated hours in making its fee award. See Id. at 433.

         Finally, the determination of fees "should not result in a second major litigation." Id. at 437. "[T]rial courts need not, and indeed should not, become green-eyeshade accountants. The essential goal in shifting fees (to either party) is to do rough justice, not to achieve auditing perfection. So trial courts may take into account their overall sense of a suit, and may use estimates in calculating and allocating an attorney's time." Fox v. Vice, 563 U.S. 826, 838 (2011).

         II. Application

         The Court has carefully reviewed SKl's fee application, reply papers and time records, as well as EGT's opposition and sur-reply papers, and concludes in its discretion that a reduction ...


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