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Koelle v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 2, 2017

MARK S. KOELLE
v.
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A.

          RULING RE: MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS [DOC. #47]

          HON. SARAH A. L. MERRIAM, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Defendant JP Morgan Chase, N.A. ("defendant") has filed a motion seeking an award of attorneys' fees. [Doc. #47]. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court GRANTS defendant's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs for defendant's Motion to Compel [Doc. #47].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 28, 2017, the Court granted, absent objection, defendant's motion to compel plaintiff to respond to defendant's interrogatories and requests for production (Doc. #35). See Doc. #40. On September 1, 2017, the Court held a conference with counsel to discuss discovery and scheduling issues. See Doc. #43. At that conference, "[d]efendant indicated that it may wish to pursue the costs and fees associated with the filing of defendant's Motion to Compel. The Court advised defendant to file a specific request on the docket if it wish[ed] to pursue such a remedy." Id. at 1. On September 14, 2017, defendant filed a motion for attorneys' fees and costs associated with defendant's motion to compel, seeking an award of $6, 379.20 for 18.8 hours of work performed by two attorneys in connection with the motion. See Doc. #47. Plaintiff did not file a response to defendant's motion for attorneys' fees and costs.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         "If [a motion for an order compelling discovery] is granted ... the court must ... require the party ... whose conduct necessitated the motion, the party or attorney advising that conduct, or both to pay the movant's reasonable expenses incurred in making the motion, including attorney's fees." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(A). "But the court must not order this payment if: (i) the movant filed the motion before attempting in good faith to obtain the disclosure or discovery without court action; (ii) the opposing party's nondisclosure, response, or objection was substantially justified; or (iii) other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust." Id.

         An award of attorneys' 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).

         "The 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, 68 5 F.Supp.2d 507, 511 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) .

         "The 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).

         "The 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). 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).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Defendant's ...


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