United States District Court, S.D. New York
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ABRAMS, United States District Judge
October 31, 2017, subsequent to a three-day bench trial in
this action brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA") and the New York Labor Law
("NYLL"), the Court entered judgment in favor of
Plaintiffs for a total amount of $363, 755.00. Dkt. 82.
Plaintiffs now seek an additional $38, 450.20 in
attorney's fees and costs. Dkts. 83-85. Defendants have
not opposed the motion.
the FLSA and the NYLL are fee-shifting statutes that entitle
plaintiffs to recover reasonable attorney's fees and
costs incurred in successfully prosecuting wage-and-hour
actions." Escobar v. Fresno Gourmet Deli Corp.,
No. 16-CV-6816 (PAE), 2016 WL 7048714, at *3 (S.D.N.Y Dec. 2,
2016); see also 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) ("The
court in [an FLSA] action shall . . . allow a reasonable
attorney's fee to be paid by the defendant, and costs of
the action."); N.Y. Lab. Law § 198(1-a) ("In
any action instituted in the courts upon a wage claim by an
employee [under the NYLL] in which the employee prevails, the
court shall allow such employee to recover ... all reasonable
attorney's fees . . . ."). Plaintiffs prevailed at
trial and are thus eligible to recover both reasonable
attorney's fees and costs. See Hernandez v. JRPAC
Inc., No. 14-CV-4176 (PAE), 2017 WL 66325, at *1
(S.D.N.Y. Jan. 6, 2017).
starting point for determining the presumptively reasonable
attorney's fees is the "lodestar" amount, which
is "the product of a reasonable hourly rate and the
reasonable number of hours required by the case."
Millea v. Metro-North R.R. Co., 658 F.3d 154, 166
(2d Cir. 2011). "The reasonable hourly rate should be
what a reasonable, paying client would be willing to pay,
given that such a party wishes to spend the minimum necessary
to litigate the case effectively." Bergerson v. NY.
State Office of Mental Health, 652 F.3d 277, 289 (2d
Cir. 2011) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
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. 11 (1984). The relevant community for purposes of this
inquiry is the Southern District of New York. See Arbor
Hill Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Ass'n v. Cty. of
Albany, 522 F.3d 182, 190-91 (2d Cir. 2008). After
determining the appropriate hourly rate, the Court must also
examine whether the number of hours spent on the case was
reasonable, which typically involves examining an
attorney's billing records while "excluding]
excessive, redundant or otherwise unnecessary hours, as well
as hours dedicated to severable unsuccessful claims."
Quaratino v. Tiffany & Co., 166 F.3d 422, 425
(2d Cir. 1999).
are seeking $34, 555.20 in fees for the work of two attorneys
from Michael Faillace & Associates, P.C.-partner Michael
Faillace and associate Shawn Clark-as well for the work of
unnamed paralegals. Faillace and Clark request hourly rates
of $450 and $375, respectively, and ask for $175 an hour for
paralegal work. Faillace is the managing partner of Faillace
& Associates, P.C, and previously served as in-house
employment counsel for IBM for seventeen years. He has also
taught employment discrimination as an Adjunct Professor at
both Fordham University School of Law and Seton Hall
University School of Law. Clark is a sixth-year associate at
first to Faillace's requested rate, $450 per hour is, as
this Court has recently noted, on the high end of the
acceptable range. Mendoza v. CGY & J Corp., No.
15-CV-9181 (RA), 2017 WL 4685100, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 17,
2017). Indeed, it may presently be the maximum rate for
senior law firm attorneys in FLSA cases. See Gonzalez v.
Scalinatella, Inc., 112 F.Supp.3d 5, 27 (S.D.N.Y. 2015).
In the Mendoza case, for example, which involved a
one-day bench trial and a mid-five-figure damages award, the
Court reduced Faillace's hourly rate to $400. 2017 WL
4685100, at *2. Although Faillace has received his $450 rate
when he has secured favorable results after complex and
extensive litigation, see Najera v. 144 Ninth Gotham
Pizza, Inc., 12-CV-3133 (DLC), 2017 WL 728703, at *2
(S.D.N.Y. Feb. 24, 2017), this case is not nearly so
complicated, and the Court deems a reduction of
Faillace's rate to $400 per hour appropriate.
requests a rate of $375. In Sevilla v. Nekasa, Inc.,
the Court reduced Clark's rate to $250, noting that other
recent cases had "reduced Clark's hourly rate from
$375 to between $200 and $250." 16-CV-2368 (AJP), 2017
WL 1185572, at *5-*6 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 30, 2017). This Court
will similarly award Clark fees at a rate of $250 per hour.
paralegal work, "in recent FLSA actions, hourly rates
between $100 and $150 for paralegal work have been found to
be reasonable." Long v. HSBC USA INC., No.
14-CV-6233 (HBP), 2016 WL 4764939, at * 11 (S.D.N.Y Sept. 13,
2016). Courts also "routinely reduce proposed rates
where information regarding the paralegal's background
and experience is not provided." Navig8 Chems. Asia
Pte., Ltd. v. Crest Energy Partners, LP, No. 15-CV-7639
(PAE), 2015 WL 7566866, at *2 (S.D.N.Y Nov. 24, 2015);
see also Gonzalez, 112 F.Supp.3d at 28-29 (reducing
paralegal rates when a plaintiffs counsel failed to submit
any relevant background information). Such information has
not been provided here. The Court accordingly reduces the fee
rate for the paralegal work to $100.
number of hours spent on this case-89.85-is considerable, but
appears reasonable and not excessive, redundant, or otherwise
unnecessary in light of the number of Plaintiffs and a
three-day trial that met with substantial success.
final fee tabulations, then, are as follows: $5, 400 (13.5
hours times $400) for Faillace, $14, 562.50 (58.25 hours
times $250) for Clark, and $1, 810 (18.1 hours times $100)
for the paralegals. That makes for a total fee amount of $21,
fees awards include those reasonable out-of-pocket expenses
incurred by attorneys and ordinarily charged to their
clients." Rhodes v. Davis, No. 08-CV-9681
(GBD), 2015 WL 1413413, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 23, 2015)
(quoting LeBlanc-Sternberg v. Fletcher, 143 F.3d
748, 763 (2d Cir. 1998)). Such expenses must be properly
substantiated. See CJ Prods. LLC v. Your Store Online
LLC, No. 1 l-CV-9513 (GBD) (AJP), 2012 WL 4714820, at *2
(S.D.N.Y. Oct. 3, 2012). Court fees reflected on the
Court's docket and costs for which a claimant provides
extrinsic proof, such as an invoice or receipt, are
considered sufficiently substantiated, as is a sworn
statement or declaration under penalty ...