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Messier v. Southbury Training School

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 31, 2018

RICHARD MESSIER et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SOUTHBURY TRAINING SCHOOL et al., Defendants.

          RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION TO CORRECT RULING ON ATTORNEY'S FEES, COSTS, AND EXPENSES TO BE AWARDED TO PLAINTIFFS COUNSEL

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Residents of Southbury Training School, an institution for the mentally disabled in Connecticut, brought this class-action case against Southbury Training School, the Director of Southbury Training School, and the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services[1] (collectively “Defendants”), seeking injunctive relief for alleged constitutional and statutory violations relating to the conditions, services, and programs at Southbury Training School, the appropriateness of individual placements in a more integrated setting (“community placement”), and the right to be free of discrimination with respect to having such placements made.

         One of the attorneys for Plaintiffs, David C. Shaw, has moved for the Court to correct certain alleged errors in its March 27, 2015 Ruling on the amount of attorney's fees, costs, and expenses that Plaintiffs' counsel is to be awarded. ECF No. 1205.

         For the following reasons, the motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court assumes familiarity with the factual background of the case and provides the procedural background that is necessary to decide this motion.

         In 1994, Plaintiffs sued Defendants. ECF No. 1. After a bench-trial that lasted 123 days, in 1999, the Court ruled that Defendants had deprived class members of their procedural due process and statutory rights to professional judgment regarding the appropriateness of community placements, as well as their statutory right to be free of discrimination with respect to such placements. See Messier v. Southbury Training Sch., 562 F.Supp.2d 294 (D. Conn. 2008). Plaintiffs did not prevail on their remaining three claims. Id. at 303-04. Based on the Court's finding of liability on Plaintiffs' community placement claim, the parties reached a settlement on the issue of remedies. ECF No. 1054. Plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees and costs followed.[2]ECF No. 1067. The petition, as supplemented through October 2014, sought a total award of $7, 676, 839.09.

         The Court ruled on Plaintiffs' motion in two parts. The first ruling addressed Plaintiffs' “degree of success” on the merits. With respect to the claim on which they prevailed-i.e., the community placement claim-Plaintiff's achieved “excellent results, ” but, because those claims were both factually and legally distinct from Plaintiffs' unsuccessful claims-i.e., the medical care, protection, and rehabilitation claims-the Court determined that the lodestar calculation must be limited to the time Plaintiffs' counsel expended solely on the claim on which Plaintiffs prevailed. ECF No. 1146. The second ruling addressed what award of attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses was reasonable in light of Plaintiffs' limited success in this case. Having considered a number of factors, including time reasonably expended on successful claims, excessive, redundant or unnecessary time and expenses, excessiveness in rates sought, and loss in the time-value-of-money that an award of interest would cover, the Court awarded Plaintiffs an aggregate award of $2, 724, 763.28. ECF No. 1201.

         The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (“PILCO”) and Mr. Shaw separately moved for the Court to correct what they alleged were errors in the Court's ruling awarding Plaintiffs attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses. ECF Nos. 1203, 1205. PILCO subsequently settled its portion of the fees award. See ECF No. 1282.

         On the Court heard oral argument on July 3, 2018, at which the Court granted leave for the parties to file post-hearing submissions. ECF No. 1301. The parties submitted additional filings on July 20, 2018, ECF No. 1306, and on August 3, 2018, ECF. No. 1309, respectively.

         The Court now addresses Mr. Shaw's motion.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “The standard for granting [a motion for reconsideration] is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked-matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). “The major grounds justifying reconsideration are an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992) (internal citations omitted). A motion for reconsideration generally does not allow the moving party to revisit arguments that have already been presented before the court. See Shrader, 70 F.3d at 257 (“a motion for reconsideration should not be granted where the moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided.”).

         III. ...


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