United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division
ORDER GRANTING ATTORNEY'S FEES
FEDERICO A. MORENO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
brought an action against Defendant to recover unpaid wages
pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.
§§ 201-216. Following a two-day trial, the jury
returned a verdict for Plaintiff on July 20, 2017 and the
Court entered a final judgment in favor of Plaintiff. As a
prevailing party in a Fair Labor Standards Act case,
Plaintiff now seeks attorney's fees pursuant to 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b) and Southern District of Florida Local Rule 7.3
in the amount of $58, 132.00.
Defendant opposes Plaintiffs motion and asks the Court to
"subjectively decide on this matter."
standard for measuring reasonable attorney's fees in the
Eleventh Circuit is the lodestar method, which requires the
Court to multiply the reasonable hours expended by Plaintiffs
counsel by the reasonable hourly rates charged. Norman v.
Housing Auth. of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299 (11th
Cir. 1988) (citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S.
424, 436-37 (1983)). Plaintiff bears the burden of
documenting the reasonable hours expended and the reasonable
hourly rates. ACLU v. Barnes, 168 F.3d 423, 427
(11th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). Plaintiff must also
supply detailed evidence of the hourly rates and time
expended so that the Court may properly assess the time
claimed for each activity. Id. (citation omitted).
counsel seeks an exorbitant $58,
132.00 in attorney's fees from this pro
se Defendant as compensation for a $4,
824.00 victory. During a two-day trial, jurors
heard riveting testimony and were presented with gripping
evidence of the tumultuous conditions Plaintiff, a
housekeeper, encountered as she worked around-the-clock and
when given the opportunity, snoozed on Defendant's
incommodious couch, only to have her overtime wages withheld.
The question is whether Plaintiff counsel's fee request
is reasonable in this Fair Labor Standards Act case. For the
foregoing reasons, the Court finds that it is not.
Labor Standards Act actions, the Court relies on the lodestar
method to determine the reasonableness of the fees sought.
Padurjan v. Aventura Limousine & Transp. Serv.,
Inc., 441 Fed.Appx. 684, 686 (11th Cir. 2011). In
calculating the lodestar amount, the Court must first
determine the reasonable hourly rate. "A reasonable
hourly rate is the prevailing market rate in the relevant
legal community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably
comparable skills, experience and reputation."
Norman, 836 F.2d at 1299. Next, the Court must
determine the reasonable amount of hours expended on the
case. Id. at 1301. The Court should exclude
"excessive, redundant or otherwise unnecessary"
hours from the amount claimed. Id. (quoting
Hensley, 461 U.S. 424 (1983)). The Court has
discretion to reduce an award to account for situations where
the lodestar figure is unreasonable in light of the limited
success obtained. Martinez v. Hernando Cty. Sheriff's
Office, 579 Fed.Appx. 710, 715 (11th Cir. 2014); see
also Wales v. Jack M. Berry, Inc., 192 F.Supp.2d 1313
(holding that a limited recovery of $21, 000.00 in an unpaid
wages claim under the Fair Labor Standard Act warranted
reduction in the lodestar). When a fee application presents a
request for an unreasonably high number of hours, the
district court may "comb through the party's
submission to conclude which hours are reasonably
compensable, or it may simply apply a percentage cut to the
total number of hours submitted." Fiedler v. Anglin
's Beach Cafe. LLC, No. 15-60989-CIV, 2017 WL
1278632, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 3, 2017) (citing Loranger
v. Stierheim, 10 F.3d 776, 781 (11th Cir. 1994)).
courts may conduct across-the-board cuts when the
attorney's fees sought are unreasonably high. In
Martinez v. Hernando Cty. Sheriffs Office, the
Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not abuse
its discretion in reducing the lodestar figure by 75% and
awarding $10, 900.50 in attorney's fees instead of the
$79, 850.63 requested by the plaintiff in a Fair Labor
Standard Act case. 579 Fed.Appx. at 712. The district
court's 75% reduction from the lodestar based on the
plaintiffs "limited recovery" was "reasonably
proportionate to [the plaintiffs] success in the
lawsuit." Id. at 713. "[W]hen a plaintiff
has achieved only partial or limited success, the product of
hours reasonably expended on the litigation as a whole[, ]
times a reasonable hourly rate[, ] may be an excessive
amount. This will be true even where the plaintiffs claims
were interrelated, non-frivolous and raised in good
faith." Id. at 715 (quoting Hensley,
461 U.S. at 436). Courts may also conduct an hour-by-hour
analysis, but cannot do so in conjunction with an
across-the-board reduction. See Bivins v. Wrap It Up,
Inc., 548 F.3d 1348, 1351-52 (11th Cir. 2008) (holding
that conducting both an hour-by-hour analysis and applying an
across-the-board 50% reduction was an abuse of discretion).
counsel seeks a total recovery of $58, 132.00. The billing
records indicate that five attorneys worked on the case:
K. David Kelly
counsel presents the above-referenced hourly rates but fails
to provide each attorney's experience and background to
justify the rate requested. "Generally, acceptable proof
of the market rate may be comprised of testimony and direct
evidence from other legal practitioners in the relevant legal
community who are familiar with the type of legal service
provided and the prevailing market rate for such work."
Norman, 836 F.2d at 1299 (internal citation
omitted). In support of these requests, Plaintiffs counsel
submits three orders from the Southern District of Florida
that awarded Plaintiffs counsel fees similar or identical to
the hourly rate requested in this case. "Where
documentation is inadequate, the district court is not
relieved of its obligation to award a reasonable fee, but the
district court traditionally has had the power to make such
an award without the need of further pleadings or an
evidentiary hearing." Id. at 1303 (internal
Reis v. Thierry's Inc., No. 08-20992-Civ-Turnoff
(S.D. Fla. Mar. 25, 2010), Magistrate Judge Turnoff awarded
hourly rates of $330.00 per hour for Mr. Zidell and $300.00
per hour for Mr. Kelly. In Marengo v. Doorman S Private
Ride Serv., Inc. et al, No. 15-22758-Civ-Otazo-Reyes
(S.D. Fla. Aug. 17, 2017), Magistrate Judge Otazo-Reyes
awarded hourly rates of $390.00 per hour for Mr. Zidell,
$350.00 per hour for Mr. Kelly, $225.00-$290.00 per hour for
Mr. Jaff, and $260.00 per hour for Ms. Staroschak.
Accordingly, based on the Court's experience and the
decisions of other judges in this district, the Court finds
that the rates requested are reasonable in the Miami, Florida
market. See Araujo v. C.R.C. Car Rental Inc., No.
17-21889-CIV, 2017 WL 3382315, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 4, 2017)
(rinding that a $395 hourly rate was reasonable for an
attorney with over 17 years of experience); James v. Wash
Depot Holdings, Inc., 489 F.Supp.2d 1341, 1350 (S.D.
Fla. 2007) (finding that $270 was a reasonable hourly rate
for an associate who had been practicing for between 5-8
does not contest Plaintiffs hourly rate or the hours expended
on the case. In fact, Defendant does not request a reduction,
but instead asks that the Court "subjectively decide on
this matter." Nonetheless, after an itemized review of
the billing records submitted by Plaintiff, the Court finds
that a 75% reduction is warranted because the number of hours
billed is unreasonable and excessive in light of the fact
that Defendant was pro se, the case did not present
novel issues, and did not require the services of five
attorneys (Zidell, Kelly, Jaffe, Staroschak, and Garofalo)
working 177.80 hours and charging $58, 132 to obtain a
judgment of $4, 824. In addition, the Court finds that
Plaintiff counsel's practice of billing ...