United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER REGARDING ATTORNEY'S FEES
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Richard Novak filed this state-law wrongful termination
action in the Superior Court of Connecticut against Defendant
Saybrook Buick GMC. Defendant removed the case to federal
court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, but Plaintiff
then moved to remand the matter back to state court. The
Court granted his unopposed motion. Doc. 14. In this Ruling,
the Court also held that "where Defendant . . . removed
this case in clear violation of the forum defendant rule, 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b), there was no 'objectively
reasonable basis for seeking removal,' and a
discretionary award of attorney fees and costs is therefore
appropriate." Id. at 5 (citation omitted).
has now submitted a quantified claim, also unopposed, in
compliance 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). This Order
directs Defendant to award Plaintiff the amount requested.
Court 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). See also,
e.g., Stanczyk v. City of New York, 752 F.3d
273, 284 (2d Cir. 2014) ("In calculating attorney's
fees, the district court must first determine the
'lodestar-the product of a reasonable hourly rate and the
reasonable number of hours required by the case-[which]
creates a presumptively reasonable fee.'") (quoting
Millea v. Metro-N. R.R. Co., 658 F.3d 154, 166 (2d
Cir. 2011)). In general, the "lodestar looks to the
prevailing market rates in the relevant community."
Perdue v. Kenny A. ex rel. Winn, 559 U.S. 542, 553
(2010). When calculated in this manner, such fees are
presumptively reasonable, and generally only subject to
enhancements in "rare" and "exceptional"
circumstances. Id. at 551-54.
the applicable hourly rate, the court "retains
discretion to determine what constitutes a reasonable
fee" by attorneys. Parris v. Pappas, 844
F.Supp.2d 262, 265 (D. Conn. 2012) (quoting Millea,
658 F.3d at 166) (ellipsis omitted). "[A] reasonable fee
is a fee that is sufficient to induce a capable attorney to
undertake the representation" of a particular kind of
case. Parris, 844 F.Supp.2d at 266 (quoting
Perdue, 559 U.S. at 552). See also Parrish v.
Sollecito, 280 F.Supp.2d 145, 169-70 (S.D.N.Y. 2003)
("A reasonable starting point for determining the hourly
rate for purposes of a lodestar calculation is the
attorney's customary rate.") (collecting cases).
calculating the reasonable hourly rate, the court also
examines such factors as the level of experience of an
attorney and nature of the case in assessing reasonableness
of his or her fee. Id. at 266-67 (holding $275 per
hour "a reasonable rate for an attorney with more than
eleven years of legal experience" and "$200 per
hour" a "reasonable rate for an attorney with four
years of experience"). See also Sony Elecs., Inc. v.
Soundview Techs., Inc., 389 F.Supp.2d 443, 447
(D. Conn. 2005) ("The 'lodestar' figure should
be in line with those [rates] prevailing in the community for
similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable
skill, experience, and reputation.") (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis added).
Court further considers the number of hours for which fees
will be awarded to decide whether the time was "usefully
and reasonably expended" by counsel. Lunday v. City
of Albany, 42 F.3d 131, 134 (2d Cir. 1994). "Hours
that are 'excessive, redundant, or otherwise
unnecessary,' are to be excluded." Kirsch v.
Fleet St., Ltd., 148 F.3d 149, 173 (2d Cir. 1998)
(quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434
(1983)). See also LeBlanc-Sternberg v. Fletcher, 143
F.3d 748, 764 (2d Cir. 1998) ("The court should include
the number of hours claimed by plaintiffs' attorneys that
are supported by time records" and "that are not
excessive or duplicative.").
once the court has determined a "presumptively
reasonable fee, the final step in the fee determination is to
inquire whether an upward or downward adjustment is
required." Parris, 844 F.Supp.2d at 270. In
evaluating whether a fee award should be adjusted, the
Supreme Court has held that "'the most critical
factor' in determining the reasonableness of a fee award
'is the degree of success obtained.'" Farrar
v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 103, 114 (1992) (quoting
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 436).
the court employs the lodestar approach and determines a
"presumptively reasonable fee" by engaging in a
"[T]he 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."
Parris, 844 F.Supp.2d at 266 (quoting Adorno v.
Port Auth. of New York & New Jersey, 685 F.Supp.2d
507, 511 (S.D.N.Y. 2010)).
counsel submits his claim for an award of attorney's fees
in the amount of $750, based upon 2.5 billed hours at a rate
of $300 per hour. Doc. 16 ¶¶ 3-5. Plaintiff notes
that this is the same rate counsel was awarded by this Court
in December 2017. Id. ¶ 5 (citing Kennedy
v. Supreme Forest Prod., Inc., 295 F.Supp.3d 113, 125
(D. Conn. 2017). Judge Meyer of this Court settled on this
rate based on a survey of rates prevailing in the district of
Connecticut for attorneys with similar experiences and
accomplishments. Kennedy, 295 F.Supp.3d at 125.
Seeing no reason to depart from this decision, I also
conclude that an hourly rate of $300 is reasonable.
has submitted a contemporaneous record of billed tasks
related to preparing the motion for remand in this action.
Doc. 16-1 at 3. The amount of time spent on these tasks, 2.5
hours, appears reasonable. Based on a $300 hourly rate for
2.5 billed hours, the Court agrees that the total lodestar is
$750. In addition, seeing no opposition by Defendant, the
Court does not find any reason to adjust this calculation.