United States District Court, D. Connecticut
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al, ex. rel. POONAM RAI, D.D.S. and ROBIN FITZGERALD, Plaintiffs,
KS2 TX, P.C., et al., Defendants.
RULING ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
Bond Arterton, U.S.D.J.
Poonam Rai, D.D.S., and Robin Fitzgerald
("Relators") move for reconsideration ([Doc. #
111]) of this Court's March 27, 2019 Ruling awarding
attorneys' fees in the amount of $368, 528.18, in
addition to $20, 301.59 in costs and expenses. (Ruling on
Mot. Attorneys' Fees [Doc. # 110]). Relators ask the
Court to amend the Ruling to award total fees in the amount
of $696, 108.78, with no change in the award of costs and
"ask the Court to reconsider its reduction of 40% of
Relators' adjusted lodestar 'to eliminate duplicative
work performed on the first-filed cases.'" (Br.
Supp. Mot. Reconsideration [Doc. # 111-2] at 2.) Relators
contend that "(a) the issue of 'duplicative'
work was not briefed by the parties, (b) reducing an FCA
attorneys' fee award on this basis (as outlined in the
Court's decision) is unsupported by any statutory or
judicial authority, and (c) such a reduction is contrary to
the principles underlying Supreme Court attorney's fee
Court's Local Rules provide that "[m]otions for
reconsideration shall not be routinely filed and shall
satisfy the strict standard applicable to such motions."
D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 7(c)(1). "Such motions will
generally be denied unless the movant can point to
controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked in
the initial decision or order." Id.
the Second Circuit, '[t]he lodestar method is ordinarily
the starting point in determining the amount of fees that
maybe awarded.'" Pugach v.M& TMortg.
Corp., 564 F.Supp.2d 153, 155 (E.D.N.Y. 2008) (quoting
Seitzman v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada, Inc.,
311 F.3d 477, 487 (2d Cir. 2002)). "Under this method,
attorneys' fees are calculated by taking 'the number
of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by
a reasonable hourly rate.'" Id. (quoting
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983))
(other citation omitted).
Motion for Reconsideration does not challenge the reduced
hourly rates ordered by the Court, nor the various exclusions
of hours and across the board reductions ordered by the
Court, with the exception of the 40% reduction. The Court
explained that reduction previously by noting that while
"Relators performed work identifying the complex
corporate structures and individual clinic locations that
together operated as Kool Smiles and related entities across
all of the Plaintiff States, investigative work that the
Court presumes assisted the States in prevailing in their
claims against Defendants [, ]" they nonetheless failed
to explain in support of their fee petition "in any
level of detail what exactly they did otherwise to
investigate and move the ball forward on these claims in a
manner substantially contributing to the prosecution of this
action, or what value they brought to the investigation of
the state claims separate from information that the
Government was already aware of via Abendano or through its
own investigation." (Ruling on Mot. for Attorneys'
Fees at 13.) As the Court further explained:
While the Relators substantially contributed to the
prosecution of the State FCA claims by (1) bringing them when
no one else had, (2) clarifying who all of the Defendants
were, providing some valuable investigatory work, (3)
determining which states could make claims, and (4)
performing legal research necessary to draft the various
State FCA counts, the total amount of attorney's fees
sought is disproportionate. Except for the Texas FDH claim,
the substance of the State FCA claims does not differ from
the Federal FCA claims that Abendano had already brought to
the Government's attention.
(Id. at 13-14.)
Court now concludes that this analysis failed to take into
account the fact that because Abendano's complaint was
sealed and thus unavailable to Relators, the work that the
Court previously characterized as "duplicative" was
in fact necessary work that Relators had to perform in order
to successfully protect the various States' interests
under their respective FCAs. Because the Court overlooked the
fact that Relators were not building upon Abendano's work
but working on a blank slate that required performing
overlapping work, the Motion for Reconsideration is granted.
And because this overlapping work was necessary to the
outcome reached in this case, the expenditure of hours on
overlapping work was reasonable. The Court finds that the
other reductions previously ordered by the
Court suffice to ensure the overall
reasonableness of the attorneys' fee award, and that no
further reductions are necessary.
the Court hereby amends the Ruling on Motion for
Attorneys' Fees to award Relators $696, 108.78 in
attorneys' fees in addition to $20, 301.59 in costs and
expenses, for a total award of $716, 410.37.
 These reductions include Relators'
voluntary reduction of $380, 853, a Court-ordered
across-the-board 15% reduction for inadequate time entries, a
Court-ordered reduction in the hourly rate of attorneys Gary
Azorsky, Sherrie Savett, and Susan Thomas, and a $117, 112.50
reduction in time billed by attorney Carole Broderick. The