United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: APPLICATION FOR FEES [DOC. #178]
SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is an application for attorneys' fees by
defendants SThree PLC., SThree Inc., Huxley Associates Ltd.,
Huxley Associates Inc., Huxley Associates B.V., and Ivanka
Radujko (the “SThree defendants”). [Doc. #178].
For the reasons set forth herein, the Court GRANTS,
in part, SThree's Application for Attorney's
Fees [Doc. #178], and awards $1, 565.00 in
attorneys' fees for work performed in connection with the
SThree defendants' motions to seal.
award of attorney's fees pursuant to Rule 37 is
calculated “according to the lodestar formula, in which
the number of hours spent by the attorneys is multiplied by
the hourly rate normally charged for similar work by
attorneys of like skill in the area.” Bowne of New York
City, Inc. v. AmBase Corp., 161 F.R.D. 258, 266 (S.D.N.Y.
1995) (quotation marks and citations omitted); see also
Congregation Rabbinical Coll. of Tartikov, Inc. v. Vill. of
Pomona, 188 F.Supp.3d 333, 337 (S.D.N.Y. 2016) (determining
that the lodestar is the presumptively reasonable fee in
determining the amount of attorneys' fees and costs
warranted in connection with a motion for sanctions).
most useful starting point for determining the amount of a
reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonably expended on
the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.”
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). The resulting
amount “is only presumptively reasonable; it is still
within the court's discretion to adjust the amount upward
or downward based on the case-specific factors.” Tyco
Healthcare Grp. LP v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., No.
3:10CV60(JBA), 2012 WL 4092515, at *1 (D. Conn. Sept. 17,
2012) (quotation marks and citation omitted). “Hence,
the process is really a four-step one, as the court must: (1)
determine the reasonable hourly rate; (2) determine the
number of hours reasonably expended; (3) multiply the two to
calculate the presumptively reasonable fee; and (4) make any
appropriate adjustments to arrive at the final fee
award.” Adorno v. Port Auth. of New York & New
Jersey, 685 F.Supp.2d 507, 511 (S.D.N.Y. 2010).
presumptively reasonable fee boils down to 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.” Simmons v. N.Y. City Transit Auth.,
575 F.3d 170, 174 (2d Cir. 2009) (quotation marks and
citation omitted). Factors that the Court may consider in
determining a reasonable fee 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.
Beastie Boys v. Monster Energy Co., 112 F.Supp. 3D 31, 48
(S.D.N.Y. 2015) (citations omitted).
district court retains discretion to determine what
constitutes a reasonable fee.” Millea v. Metro-N. R.R.
Co., 658 F.3d 154, 166 (2d Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and
citation omitted). “However, this discretion is not
unfettered, ” and “the district court must abide
by the procedural requirements for calculating those fees
articulated by [the Second Circuit] and the Supreme
Court.” Id. “Attorney's fees must be
reasonable in terms of the circumstances of the particular
case[.]” Alderman v. Pan Am World Airways, 169 F.3d 99,
102 (2d Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). In determining a
reasonable fee, the Court is mindful that
“attorney's fees are to be awarded with an eye to
moderation, seeking to avoid either the reality or the
appearance of awarding windfall fees.”
Tsombanidis v. City of W. Haven, 208 F.Supp.2d 263, 270 (D.
Conn. 2002) (quotation marks and citation omitted), aff'd
sub nom. Tsombanidis v. W. Haven Fire Dep't, 352 F.3d 565
(2d Cir. 2003); see also New York State Assoc. for Retarded
Children v. Carey, 711 F.2d 1136, 1139 (2d Cir. 1983).
September 15, 2016, Judge Alvin W. Thompson issued an Order
requiring plaintiff to “reimburse the SThree Defendants
for their fees incurred in connection with both of their
Motions to Seal (Doc. Nos. 150, 153).” Doc. #165. Judge
Thompson ordered the SThree defendants to “file an
application for attorneys' fees in connection with the
two motions to seal within the next 21 days.”
Id. On October 6, 2016, the SThree defendants filed
an application for attorneys' fees, seeking an award of
$3, 312 in fees for 9.6 hours of work performed by two
attorneys in connection with the aforementioned motions to
seal. See Doc. #178. On October 20, 2016, plaintiff filed a
Partial Opposition and Request to Modify SThree
Defendants' Motion Application for Attorneys' Fees.
See Doc. #194. Plaintiff argues, inter alia, that the claimed
fees are excessive, and that “only $801 of the
submitted fees relates to a violation of the [Protective]
Order.” Id. at 2. The SThree defendants filed
a reply, arguing that plaintiff failed to challenge the
billing rates or the amount of time spent in connection with
the motions to seal; therefore, they argue, their fee
application should be granted in its entirety. See Doc. #201
than a passing mention, plaintiff's opposition does not
explicitly challenge the reasonableness of the SThree
defendants' attorneys' hourly rates or work they
expended in connection with the subject motions. Nonetheless,
as set forth below, the Court has carefully reviewed the fee
application and has concluded that $3, 312 is not a
reasonable fee to award for the work incurred in connection
with the SThree defendants' motions to seal. See Jaeger
v. Cellco P'ship, No. 3:11CV1948(SRU), 2015 WL 1867661,
at *3 (D. Conn. Apr. 23, 2015) (reviewing and reducing a fee
request even where plaintiff does not challenge “the
reasonableness of the total fees requested or the
reasonableness of the attorneys' hourly rates”).
the Court addresses the SThree defendants' hourly rates.
Two attorneys performed work on the Motions to Seal: Aneca E.
Lasley, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs in Columbus, Ohio,
and Christopher F. Hass, a senior associate at the same firm.
See Doc. #178-1 at 1-2. The Court has already determined that
rates charged by Attorney Lasley and Attorney Haas in
connection with this matter are higher than those awarded for
comparable attorneys in this District, and reduced those
accordingly to $375 and $275, respectively. See Doc. #311.
This fee application provides no additional information that
alters the ...