United States District Court, D. Connecticut
NANCY GENN, on her behalf and on behalf of her daughter, SARAH ELIZABETH KATIE GENN, Plaintiff,
NEW HAVEN BOARD OF EDUCATION; REGINALD MAYO, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS; TYPHANIE JACKSON, DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL SERVICES; PATRICIA MOORE, SUPERVISOR OF SPECIAL SERVICES; and KATHRYN CARBONE, PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE DIRECTOR, Defendants.
ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED MOTION FOR
Charles S. Haight, Jr. Senior United States District Judge.
Amended Motion for Attorney Fees (Doc. 53), was filed
following this Court's Order (Doc. 52) denying
Plaintiff's initial Motion for Attorney Fees (Doc. 50).
Defendants resist this Amended Motion with a renewed
Objection (Doc. 54), reiterating the arguments made against
an award in their Objection (Doc. 51) to Plaintiff's
earlier Motion, and adding one additional objection, as to
Plaintiff's inclusion of the time expended on a December
20, 2011 meeting of a "planning and placement team"
in the renewed request for award of fees. See Doc.
54 at 2. This Order resolves Plaintiff's instant Motion,
and with it, this litigation.
November 30, 2016, this Court issued a Ruling (Doc. 49)
granting in part and denying in part Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. 36) and granting in part and
denying in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. 37). Familiarity with that decision is assumed.
of that ruling, the Court granted summary judgment to
Plaintiff on a single element of the complaint, namely that,
under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20
U.S.C. §§ 1400-1482 ("IDEA"), Plaintiff
parent Nancy Genn is entitled to reimbursement for the
Independent Educational Evaluation ("IEE")
performed by Miriam Cherkes-Julkowski, Ph.D. Doc. 49 at 31.
The IEE reimbursement claim was the only claim on which
Plaintiff prevailed. The Court found that, pursuant to the
IDEA, Plaintiff is a "prevailing party, " entitled
to attorney's fees, though those fees should be limited
to the hours spent on the successful claim. Id. at
44-45 (citing 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B)(i); Hensley
v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424 (1983)).
conclude the fee issue (and this litigation), the Court
issued the following instruction to Plaintiff counsel:
I will consider the question of attorney's fees in the
present case if and when Plaintiff submits a quantified claim
in the proper form. "Proper form" requires that
Plaintiff's attorney (1) comply fully with the Second
Circuit's detailed instructions in New York Ass'n
of Retarded Children v. Carey, 711 F.2d 1136, 1148 (2d
Cir 1983); and (2) limit the claim to the attorney hours
spent on the IEE issue, excluding all others.
Doc. 49, at 46.
December 7, 2016, Plaintiff counsel filed a timely Motion for
Attorney Fees (Doc. 50) along with an affidavit and a
"work log" reflecting time expended on this action.
See Doc. 50, Exhibit A. Defendants resisted this
motion on a number of grounds. See Doc. 51.
prior Order (Doc. 52), familiarity with which is assumed, the
Court directed Plaintiff' counsel to submit a new motion
for attorney fees in compliance with the Second Circuit's
well-established standards for such motions, as articulated
in Carey, 711 F.2d 1136. Specifically, the Court
cited Plaintiff's failure to rely on contemporaneous
records, specify the dates on which work was completed, and
characterize the nature of the work completed. Doc. 52 at
3-4. The Order also reiterated the Court's prior
admonition that Plaintiff's request for attorney fees be
limited to costs expended on pursuing Plaintiff claim for
reimbursement for an Independent Educational Evaluation
("IEE"), the only substantive issue on which
Plaintiff prevailed before this Court. As described in that
Order, Plaintiff's first Motion for Attorney Fees (Doc.
presented the Court with a possible framework for considering
the fraction of [Plaintiff attorney's] efforts devoted to
the IEE claim - some proportion of the effort expended on the
four purportedly "intertwined" issues - and then .
. . failed to put [its] own framework to use. It is of no use
to the Court to identify which issues are intertwined, or
which claims are related, if the work log does not follow the
principles of Carey, and provides no insight into
"the nature of the work performed."
Doc. 52 at 6-7.
STANDARD FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES
evaluating a request for attorney's fees must conduct a
"lodestar analysis, which calculates reasonable
attorney's fees by multiplying the reasonable hours
expended on the action by a reasonable hourly rate."
Kroshnyi v. U.S. Pack Courier Servs., Inc., 771 F.3d
93, 108 (2d Cir. 2014). Proffered hours are reasonable if
"at the time the work was performed, a reasonable
attorney would have engaged in similar time
expenditures." Grant v. Martinez, 973 F.2d 96,
99 (2d Cir. 1992). As to the hourly rate, a district court
has discretion but should begin generally with "the
prevailing market rates in the relevant community."
Perdue v. Kenny A., 559 U.S. 542, 551 (2010)
(internal quotation omitted). Determining the reasonable
hourly rate for a given case requires "a case-specific
inquiry into the prevailing market rates for counsel of
similar experience and skill to the fee applicant's
counsel." Farbotko v. Clinton Cty. of N.Y., 433
F.3d 204, 209 (2d Cir. 2005). "[T]he fee applicant has
the burden of showing by satisfactory evidence - in addition
to the attorney's own affidavits - that the requested
hourly rates are the prevailing market rates."
is . . . a strong presumption that the lodestar figure
represents a reasonable fee." Quaratino v. Tiffany
& Co., 166 F.3d 422, 425, (2d Cir. 1999) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Even so, "the lodestar may be
adjusted based on several factors." Id.
However, "[w]henever the district court augments or
reduces the lodestar figure, it must state its reasons for
doing so as specifically as possible." Cohen v. W.
Haven Bd. of Police Comm'rs, 638 F.2d 496, 505 (2d
Cir. 1980) (internal quotation marks omitted). For example,
"in dealing with items that are excessive, redundant, or
otherwise unnecessary, the district court has discretion
simply to deduct a reasonable percentage of the number of
hours claimed as a practical means of trimming fat from a fee
application." Hines v. City of Albany, 613
F.App'x 52, 54-55 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation