United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Garcia (“Plaintiff”) has moved for an order
awarding attorneys' fees and costs under 15 U.S.C. §
1692k(a)(3) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
against the Law Offices of Howard Lee Schiff
(“Defendant” or “the Schiff firm”).
Mot. for Attorney's Fees, ECF No. 95 (Aug. 30, 2019). Mr.
Garcia requests $67, 707.50 in attorney's fees.
following reasons, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees and costs in
part and awards attorney's fees and costs to Mr. Garcia
in the amount of $50, 085.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
23, 2016, Mr. Garcia sued the Schiff firm, alleging that he
had received a debt collection letter from the firm on or
around February 12, 2016. Compl. ¶ 9, ECF No. 1 (May 23,
2016). The parties engaged in pre-trial litigation activity
for three years. See ECF Nos. 9-85.
August 15, 2019, after a one-day bench trial on May 20, 2019,
the Court ruled that the Schiff firm had sent a materially
misleading letter to Mr. Garcia in violation of the FDCPA,
the Schiff firm was not entitled to the bona fide error
defense to strict liability under the FDCPA, and awarded $500
in damages under the FDCPA. Mem. of Decision and Order, ECF
No. 93 (Aug. 15, 2019).
August 30, 2019, Mr. Garcia filed a motion for attorney's
fees and costs. Mot. Attorney's Fees, ECF No. 95 (Aug.
30, 2019). In support of his motion, Mr. Garcia submitted a
memorandum of law, declarations by his attorneys, Yaakov
Saks, Rachel Drake, and Raphael Deutsch, a declaration by
Jenny Padron, a paralegal, and an itemized list of time and
expense charges. ECF Nos. 95-1-95-5 (Aug. 30, 2019).
September 20, 2019, the Schiff firm submitted a memorandum in
opposition to Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees.
Mem. Opp. Mot. Attorney's Fees, ECF No. 96 (Sept. 20,
2019) (“Def.'s Opp.”). In support of its
opposition, the Schiff firm submitted Mr. Garcia's first
request for admissions, Mr. Garcia's responses to a
number of the Schiff firm's discovery requests, the
settlement conference order in this case, the deposition of
Mr. Garcia, a letter from counsel for the Schiff firm
(another member of Schiff firm) to Mr. Garcia's counsel,
and various filings from both this case and other cases in
which Mr. Garcia's counsel has been involved. ECF Nos.
96-1-96-13 (Sept. 20, 2019).
September 27, 2019, Mr. Garica replied to the Schiff
firm's opposition. Reply, ECF No. 97 (Sept. 27, 2019).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
debt collector found in violation of the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act is also liable for “the costs of the
action, together with a reasonable attorney's fee as
determined by the court.” 15 U.S.C.A. §
1692k(a)(3). To determine attorney's fees, “a
district court should consider the rate [a] reasonable,
paying client would pay, and use that rate to calculate the
presumptively reasonable fee.” Arbor Hill Concerned
Citizens Neighborhood Ass'n v. Cty. of Albany &
Albany Cty. Bd. of Elections, 522 F.3d 182, 193 (2d Cir.
determine a “reasonable” hourly rate, the court
should consider factors including, but not limited to, the
the complexity and difficulty of the case, the available
expertise and capacity of the client's other counsel (if
any), the resources required to prosecute the case
effectively (taking account of the resources being marshaled
on the other side but not endorsing scorched earth tactics),
the timing demands of the case, whether an attorney might
have an interest (independent of that of his client) in
achieving the ends of the litigation or might initiate the
representation himself, whether an attorney might have
initially acted pro bono (such that a client might be aware
that the attorney expected low or non-existent remuneration),
and other returns (such as reputation, etc.) that an attorney
might expect from the representation.
Id. at 184. The court should also consider the
prevailing market rates charged in the district where the
plaintiff brought the case. Id. at 190.
to arrive at a “presumptively reasonable fee, ”
the court should multiply “a reasonable hourly rate
[by] the reasonable number of hours required by the
case.” Millea v. Metro-North Ry. Co., 658 F.3d
154, 166 (2d. Cir. 2011); see also Silver v. Law Offices
Howard Lee Schiff, P.C., No. 3:09-cv-912 PCD,
2010 WL 5140851, at *2 (D. Conn. Dec. 16, 2010) (“After
determining the reasonable hourly rate for an attorney, the
Court must examine the hours expended by the attorney, review
them for reasonableness, and exclude any excessive or
unnecessary hours.”) (citing Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983)).
FDCPA provides for fee-shifting as a matter of course to
successful plaintiffs.” Jacobson v. Healthcare Fin.
Servs., Inc., 516 F.3d 85, 95 (2d Cir. 2008).
“Where a plaintiff prevails [under the FDCPA], whether
or not [s]he is entitled to an award of actual or statutory
damages, [s]he should be awarded costs and reasonable
attorney's fees in amounts to be fixed in the ...